After a long day at work, the phone rings and your child answers it and says. “There is someone on the phone saying that you owe them money!” Annoyed, you grab the phone and on the other end is a debt collector demanding payment for a debt you do not owe, to a creditor you have never heard of. You inform him that you do not owe any money, but he insists that you do. He reads your name back to you, and you confirm that he has the right name, but the wrong person.
The misguided debt collector then informs you that he will be kicking his collection efforts up a notch, and that he will be continuing to pursue you. Annoyed, you tell him not to call you again and then hang-up on him. That’s just the beginning of a series of phone calls and letters that leaves you anxious, annoyed and confused.
With over 300 million people living in the United States there is a good chance that you share the same name as other people, some of which, are probably in trouble with debt.
There is also a chance that you have been the victim of identity theft. Identity theft is one of the top consumer complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with approximately 250,854 cases.
Either way, there are a few steps you can take to defend yourself.
Send A Cease And Desist Letter Via Certified Letter. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector can contact you by phone or letter until you tell them to stop in writing. Once the letter is received, the calls must stop.
Demand Verification. The FDCPA also gives you the right to demand verification of the debt in question, including a copy of the application that was signed when the account was opened.
Dispute The Debt. If it is not your debt, send a certified written dispute to the collection agency. Once received, the calls must stop.
In Case Of Identity Theft, Take Action Immediately. Make a police report to document your claim. Also, put a fraud alert on your credit reports and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. These steps will help document your claim, give you extra ammunition if you need it, and help prevent further theft.
If you have taken the above steps and the debt collectors are still harassing you in violation of the FDCPA, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call California Consumer Protection Attorney, Todd M. Friedman at (877) 449-8898 for a free consultation.