As the former owner of one of the largest collection agencies in the U.S., I have done it all. I am pleased to say that I now work for the consumer, like you, in protecting your rights against those pesky collection agencies.
There are a few things you need to look out for when contacted by a collection agency.
1. Make sure you get their information. Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money. But remember — these numbers are inflated!
2. Send the collection agency a”Validation of Debt” letter. Once you do this, all phone calls must stop until the debt is validated. This means a signature, contract, or some type of agreement must be presented to you. Anything less than that is NOT considered validated.
3. Go online and research the company’s ability to operate in your state. You can find this information at http://www.collectionagency411.com/collectionagencylicense.htm. If the collection agency is not licensed in your state, report them to the Attorney General and notify the collection agency that you are doing so. This will stop the letters and harassing phone calls.
4. DO NOT make any payments or agree to make any payment until the debt is validated. You will lose most of your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act (FDCPA) if you do.
I can’t tell you how many thousands of people paid me for debt that I had no contract or signature for. And if they didn’t pay, I would place a judgment against them because you the consumer would NEVER show up to court to dispute the validity of the debt.
I am pleased to say my company was never sued because we operated within the state and federal guidelines, but I’m here to tell you there are many unscrupulous collection agencies out there that are operating illegally. All it takes is to know the steps above to beat them at their own game.
Please feel free to buy the book on my web site, www.creditjusticeservices.com, called Consumer Protection Enforcement (C.O.P.E.). This book was written by my partner and consumer attorney, assisted by me, to help the consumer fight against the collection agencies and credit-card companies without having to use an attorney. You have the right to sue a collector in small claims court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. Our book has a 98% win ratio in court and was written to protect consumers like you against fraudulent collection agencies.
Douglas Muir, CEO
Credit Justice Services, LLC