Thank you for your question. A would-be creditor trying to collect on an unauthorized account is a very frustrating circumstance.
The law provides you with several protections. The first is under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The company here is classified as a debt collector. These protections are as follows:Harassment
. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:
use threats of violence or harm;
publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies);
use obscene or profane language; or
repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
False statements. Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
misrepresent the amount you owe;
indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they aren’t; or
indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are.
Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:
you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
they’ll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so; or
legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.
Debt collectors may not:
give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it isn’t; or
use a false company name.
Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract
that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
deposit a post-dated check early;
take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally; or
contact you by postcard.
The next thing you can do is to send the company a letter by certified mail return receipt requested stating that you dispute the account and do not owe anything and request that they stop contacting you.
Make a copy of your letter. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact or to let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit. Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.If you send the debt collector a letter stating that you don’t owe any or all of the money, or asking for verification of the debt, that collector must stop contacting you. You have to send that letter within 30 days after you receive the validation notice. But a collector can begin contacting you again if it sends you written verification of the debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe.
If the company turns the account over to a third party collection agency, the same rules apply.
If either the company or the third party collector violate any of these rules, you can sue them for statutory penalties under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If they put a mark against you on your credit report
, you can then sue the company for "negligent damage to credit" and receive any damages which you incur that way and force them to take the negative report off your credit history.
Please let me know if you have any further questions on this matter.