Debt collector will not stop calling me for a bill that is not mine.
Debtors have protections against aggressive debt collectors. In fact, if a debt collector is calling you, you can take certain steps to force them to stop. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I am getting calls from a debt collector for a debt that is not mine. I have told them numerous times to stop calling me. What are my legal options?”
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which was passed in 1977, established certain protections for debtors. Specifically, the act required collection agencies to provide information about the debts and to verify the debt information was accurate. Additionally, the act outlined steps debtors could take to dispute debt and to stop third-party debt collection harassment.
Creditors who fail to abide by the FDCPA may be sued by consumers and may be forced to pay compensation to the consumer, including collection for damages and attorney’s fees.
Is the creditor limited by the FDCPA?
The first step you will need to take is to determine who is attempting to collect your debt. Not all creditors are covered under the FDCPA. For example, if the creditor calling you is collecting personal debt or is not a third-party debt collector they may not be covered.
If, however, the creditor you allegedly owe money to sold your debt to a third-party debt collector, it is time to take the next step.
The second step is to try to resolve debt collection issues by speaking directly with the collection agency. They should be able to provide you detailed information about the debt they believe you owe.
Next, if they have no evidence and you are convinced the debt is not yours, you can write a cease and desist letter notifying them in writing that you do not want them to contact you further with regard to this debt.
Legally, after the collection agency receives this written notification they are required to stop calling you. This does not mean, however, that they will discontinue all collection actions. In fact, if they believe the debt is owed and it is substantial, they are likely to file a suit against you and attempt to get a court to issue a judgment.
Creditor files a suit against you
If a creditor has filed suit against you this means that they have accepted that you are unlikely to voluntarily pay them, and they will have to rely on legal means through the courts to collect the debts.
Now, this does not absolve them of the responsibility of proving to the court that you owe them the money. In fact, they will have to offer sufficient evidence to prove their case.
This will also allow you an opportunity to argue your case before the court. So whatever evidence you have that you did not incur the debt needs to be gathered and organized and offered as proof to bolster your own assertions that the debt does not belong to you.
If the creditor proves their case in court, the court may issue the judgment and allow your wages to be garnished, certain assets to be repossessed, or place a lien on certain property. The good news is some states have passed laws which protect certain assets from repossession and may even protect your wages from certain creditors.
What if the creditor decides not to file a judgment?
Another option which might occur is the creditor may simply decide to charge-off the account. While this may sound like a good thing, there is a chance that this action could be reported to the credit agencies and could negatively impact your credit rating. This could be especially frustrating if the debt is not your debt.
Discussing the issues with the debt collection agencies is always the first step. If that fails, consider writing a cease and desist letter.
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Category: Criminal Law