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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I had a debt collection company call me leaving a voicemail

Customer Question

I had a debt collection company call me leaving a voicemail stating that I have claims filed against my ssn and to call back before further action is taken against my ssn which was heard by a 3rd party. then called and left messages on my family members vm and with them in person. I then called them after work and they never verified they had me on the line and then they never gave me the mini Miranda. Do I have a case against this horrible company?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
The phrase "claim against your social security number" is scary-sounding nonsense commonly spewed by scam artists pretending to be debt collectors - legally, that phrase has no meaning at all. A lawsuit is filed using a person's name, not their Social Security Number, and served on them personally. It's not possible to put a hold on someone's social security number. That's just not the way the US system works. There's a very good chance that the person you're talking to isn't a debt collector at all.
First, get a free copy of your credit report from www.annaulcreditreport.com or www.creditkarma.com to see if there are any unpaid debts that you're not aware of. It's entirely possible that there really isn't a debt.
It's a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to speak to a third party about your debt, other than just seeking location information. They're not allowed to say who they work for unless asked. They're not allowed to say that you owe a debt. They're not allowed to make contact more than once with any third party. They're not allowed to do or say ANYTHING that indicates they're trying to collect a debt against you. 15 U.S.C. 1692b.
The FDCPA doesn't specifically address how to confirm that the person on the line is the person who owes the debt, but they need to reasonably believe it's you. It's also a violation of the act not to tell you in the original communication "that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector." 15 USC 1692e.
Each violation of the FDCPA is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, plus your reasonable attorney's fees. If this IS a debt collection company located in the US, trying to collect a legitimate debt, you have the ability to file a lawsuit against them for damages. Scam artists typically cannot be sued, though (because it's nearly impossible to locate them and most have no assets located in the United States to pay a judgment). So the first step is to determine if this is a real company. See if they can send you any documentation to verify that this is a legitimate debt.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
They did disclose the company and told family members I need to call them back right away its important. When talking to them they told me of an account that I did have that I do know of owing I simply forgot about paying the bill due to other life problems at the time but I do know of that bill that they claim to represent. I listened to the voicemail yet again and they stated that a recent claim has been filed against name and social security number and I need to return the call before it escalates without needing to. but no mini Miranda was given or no wording about collecting a debt and that phrase just stated I owe the company and last time I paid and that I need to pay that today
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I also just saw I have another voicemail that I just noticed that stated that they are going to verify income and assests to my name and want me to call back before it goes further.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
How old is the debt?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
they say I last made a payment in November. I had it coming out automatically from my account.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. You may want to check yourself to see if the last payment was made in November, but you have a right to insist that they produce evidence that they legitimately purchased the debt from whoever you originally owed it to. The things they're saying still sound like false things scam artists say to make people THINK they're trying to collect a debt when they're not. To get any information about your income, they need to sue you.
Check to see if they're registered with the Secretary of State to do business in Ohio.
http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/pls/bsqry/f?p=100:1:0:::::
You may also want to report them to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for unfair practices - if they're going to be trying to collect debts in Ohio, the AG will want them to make some immediate changes.
http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/consumercomplaint
But yes, you can sue them - up to $1,000 per violation. That's every time they told third parties they're trying to collect a debt from you, when they called you and didn't read the necessary disclosures, failure to tell you about your right to request verification of the debt, and if they don't send you proof that they bought the debt from them. That's going to add up quickly.
Do not give them any personal information or verify any information they have until they can prove to your satisfaction that they're a legitimate company who actually purchased this debt. The last thing you want is to give them money, find out it was as scam, and get sued by the real debt collector.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I called and asked for an email stating they have the acct. They said would email it tomorrow. Also left me another voicemail today stating they wanted me to take a settlement. Can they do that?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What would be my next step if it is a legitamit company
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
If they're legitimate, you can choose to negotiate a settlement with them. Bear in mind that you can still report them for everything and you can still sue them - which may help you negotiate a settlement that's more to your favor.
Sometimes they'll take a lump sum up front, but if you don't have that, you also have the ability to try to set up a payment plan. Usually, as long as you make the payments, they won't file a lawsuit. So that could be something to ask about.

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