Dealing With Debt Collectors

Dealing with debt collectors properly is an important part of the identity theft recovery process. It would not be uncommon to be contacted by debt collectors if you are a victim of unknown identity theft cases or if detected identity theft cases are ignored and not dealt with properly. Often identity theft victims are left with bills that they must either pay or successfully dispute as part of their identity theft investigation and resolution efforts. If you notice unrecognized transactions in your accounts or receive bills for unrecognized services, don’t ignore the warning signs because they may be small parts of a bigger case of identity theft. However, once your case is at an advanced stage and you are contacted by collectors, contact the debt collectors, the company and credit reporting agencies immediately and report to them that the fraudulent debt is the result of identity theft. Follow up in writing with all entities within the 30 day period to dispute the charges. It is not merely sufficient to speak by phone and expect that everyone is on the same page days and months after the discussions. And, if someone forgets the details of the conversations, there is no documentation and evidence for past verbal conversations. In your letter to the debt collectors, include the following:

  • Ask the debt collector to stop contacting you or whoever the the identity fraud victim is about the debt, and
  • Request documentation from the debt collector regarding the account or transaction in collection.

Obligations of Debt Collection Agencies Upon Written Notification

  1. They must send the victim written verification of the debt, or, stop attempting to collect on the debt;
  2. They must not continue to contact the victim, and
  3. They must notify the initial creditor that the debt may be fraudulent.

If debt collectors don't abide by the rules, send a follow-up letter to remind the debt collector of its obligation (upon notification by the credit reporting agencies) to cease selling, transferring, or placing the debt for collection in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Dealing with Credit Reporting Agencies

If the credit reporting agencies do not notify the debt collector that the debt is the result of identity theft, send a follow-up letter to remind the agencies of their duties to report such cases under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If the debt collector has not stopped attempting to collect on the debt or contact the victim:

Send a follow-up letter to remind the debt collector that under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it must cease a) collection attempts until the collector has mailed the identity theft victim written verification of the debt, and, b) stop contacting the victim.

As you can see, consumers have certain rights and debt collectors have some obligations when dealing with debt collections which might be the result of identity theft.

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