Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by boo, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. boo

    boo New Member

    Several months ago, I was sued by a law office that represents a major credit card company. I suspect a past boyfriend opened that account without my consent or knowledge. I was not in a position to go after this person and fight the lawsuit due to financial difficulty and not being educated about my rights. So, I settled with them out of court. I never validated the debt. I have since paid as agreed.

    In July 2011, after several months of my paying them for the previous lawsuit, I was contacted by this firm again for another account with this company. I don't have any recollection of this account and again have good reason to believe the same person opened it using my personal information. Having gone through this experience before, I got a little more educated and asked them to validate the debt within 30 days of receipt of my letter. I specifically asked for proof that they were authorized to collect on this debt as well as specific details related to how the debt was calculated and proof that it belonged to me. I received a letter days later saying they were in receipt of my letter and would provide me with the information I requested.

    I did not hear anything from them until mid-February--several months after my validation letter was received by them. I was under the impression that not responding within 30 days was in violation of the FDCPA. So, I mailed a letter to them stating that belief as well as noting that they had not satisfied validation because they only provided me with a partial printout of charges, which did not show the complete account history. The bill they provided was for 2005-2006. I am not certain this is within the statute of limitations, and the contract they provided was not signed by me. The account printout does not match the amount they say I owe. They have also not demonstrated that they are authorized to collect this debt.

    They sent me a letter in response stating that they had satisfied validation requirements and that there was no time limit on when they could respond to my validation letter. I've done more research on this, and it appears they probably have not violated FDCPA. But surely, 7 months is not a reasonable amount of time for validating a debt. I have no way of knowing how they've calculated the debt or if they're even legally authorized to collect. Without any contract to review, I cannot confirm or deny that this is my debt.

    What sort of action can I take in this situation? Would I need to just wait for them to sue me to get these answers?

    I have heard that estoppel by silence is one way of dealing with this--if you send them letters when they don't respond. I didn't, but could I use this somehow?

  2. jam237

    jam237 Well-Known Member

    There is no time-period to respond to validation, only that they need to stop collection activity until they do so. Be careful using a theory without knowing everything about how that theory is supposed to work. There are a lot of people who think that estoppel is the greatest thing since sliced-bread.

    Legal authorization to collect is usually presupposed by the OC providing them with the documentation, the only exception would be if you would have documentation that a second CA was attempting to collect on the account simultaneous to the first, then that would be able to be questioned.

    The second letter is referred to as a Chaudry letter, unfortunately their industry believes that a ruling dealing with one specific case where the consumer was challenging fees that were not assessed currently (which if the fees didn't occur, and they would have validated them, they would be misrepresenting the amount of the debt); and the amount of legal fees - and what services were included in those legal fees (which are protected under attorney client privilege); applies to every single case, even when they are alleging that the fees have actually occurred, and are not protected under attorney client privilege. (If they didn't mention Chaudry specifically, don't mention it first. :))

    *MY* argument would be that Chaudry doesn't apply in your case, because they are not alleging that the fees being alleged are ones which had not yet occurred, and are not protected by privilege - unless you demanded to have unredacted copies of their legal bills which exposed the specific statutes of the law the law firm was researching.

    So here would be what I would personally mention in my next letter to them. Make the language your own, except for the language you copy directly from the FDCPA.

    Without a complete, total and comprehensive accounting of the alleged account, I am unable to validate the character, amount, or legal status of the alleged debt; without the terms of the alleged account, I am unable to validate that the alleged amount is free of any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law; and without a signed application I am unable to validate the fact that the debt collector, or original creditor hasn't misidentified me as the responsible party of the account.

    Now, I've created a paragraph which sets up specific reasons why certain pieces of information are required which is consistent with the language of the act.

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