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I sent a second request for validation to two CA's after they didn't respond to the first request. I Received the green cards back and sent copies of first, second letter along with copies of green cards to EQ disputing as not mine again. I NEVER got anything back from the CA and thirty or so days later I get a letter back from EQ stating verified will remain. WTF? I need to get rid of these so I can get a mortgage. I can settle, but I REALLY don't know if these are mine or not. Should I call the CA and talk to them over the phone. FYI, these debts are listed as 4 - 6 yrs. old and appear to be medical related. Thanks in advance for the help.

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Legally, they cannot verify if in DV mode. That is a violation!! see below

The specific section of the FDCPA:

FDCPA Section 809. Validation of debts [15 USC 1692g]

(B) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

Plus, they must show proof positive that you owe them this debt. It's not enough to send you a computer-generated printout of the debt. There is an opinion letter from the FTC to back this up:

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters/wollman.htm

Nor can they ask you to pay for digging up records of your debt:

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters/krisor2.htm

So, if a creditor can't verify a debt:

They are not allowed to collect the debt,

They are not allowed to contact you about the debt, and

They are also not allowed to report it under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Doing so is a violation of the FCRA, and the FDCPA states that you can sue for $1,000 in damages for any violation of the Act.

The opinion letter from the FTC which clearly spells out that a collection agency CANNOT report a debt to the credit bureaus which has not been validated:

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters/cass.htm

It also states that you can sue in federal or state court. So if you have them on five violations, then you have damages of $5,000. Small claims court, anyone?

The Debt Validation Strategy

It might be helpful to look at our illustration of the process before you get started.

Send a letter requesting validation to the collection agency (our buddy Bob in the preceding example).

If you don't know the address of the collection agency, here is a tip to help you find it.

Dispute the collection with the credit bureaus.

Wait 30 days to hear back from the collection agency. Most likely they will not respond or they will respond saying that they received your letter. Only a letter which includes:

Proof that the collection company owns the debt/or has been assigned the debt,

Complete payment history, starting with the original creditor, and

Copy of the original signed loan agreement or credit card application

is satisfactory.

If they haven't sent you satisfactory proof, send a copy of your receipt for your registered mail, a copy of the first letter you sent and a statement that they have not complied with the FDCPA and are now in violation of the Act. Tell them they need to immediately remove the collection listing from your credit report or you are going to file a lawsuit because they are in violation of the FDCPA, section 809 (B).

Wait 15-20 days to hear back after this second letter to the collection agency. They will either remove it or not respond.

If they do provide a contract with a signature from the original creditor showing that you owe the debt, there is one more thing you can try: see if they are legally licensed to collect the debt in your state. Here is a good site to begin your search.

Not all states require licensing, however. Here's a little cheat sheet (Word Doc) to see what the collection licensing laws in your state are. It's got other handy dandy state law information as well.

If you believe that they are not licensed, and licensing is required in your state, write them another letter and tell them they are in violation of your state's collection laws and are subject to prosecution and fines. Cite your state's fines and procedures in the letter. This is a last ditch effort, but has worked in some cases.

Typically, your work will stop here, as most collection agencies will bow down to your demands and send you a letter agreeing to remove the listing. Now all you have to do is send a copy of the letter to the CRAs.

If the collection agency did not agree to remove the listing, then you need to continue to the next steps.

File a lawsuit in small claims court against the collection agency on the basis of violating the FDCPA.

Have the papers served to the collection agency. (You can find a paper server on the internet for about $25). Here is a good link. And here is another: http://www.1-800-serve-em.com/servicemap.html

In the meantime, in a parallel effort with your lawsuit against the collection agency:

If the collection comes back as "verified" from the credit bureaus, you now have proof of further collection activity from the collection agency. (The assumption is that the credit bureau contacted the collection agency to verify the debt.) Since the collection agency did not validate the debt, further collection activity is a violation of the FDCPA.

Contact the credit bureaus, and tell them that the creditors did not verify the debts under the FDCPA, and send copies of your proof. Request the method of verification, which is your right under the FCRA. It is crucial to contact the credit bureaus before filing a lawsuit. Make sure you state that the collection agency did not respond to your request for debt validation.

You can try sending them this letter to see if they will budge. They may tell you that the request needs to come from the creditor. This is baloney. They are basically being an accessory to the collection agency's illegal act of reporting you in the first place, and are teetering on the edge of "willful non-compliance" under the FCRA. Tell them so.

File a small claims suit in court on the credit bureaus, on the basis of defamation of character. This is the easiest thing to prove since the fact that a collection exists on your credit report hurts your character.

Have the papers served. (You can find a paper server on the internet for about $25). Here is a great link where you can search for the local office of the credit bureau near you. http://www.llrx.com/columns/roundup14.htm

Notify the bureaus that you are suing them. You can use this letter. The credit bureaus will call the creditors and find out that there is a question about whether the debt is legitimate. They should delete it immediately. If you want more legal ammo, you might also try looking up similar cases to cite. We have a list of online resources here.

If you don't want to spend the $25 to serve the agencies (although it is well worth it in my opinion), make sure you note the case number and court in which you filed the suit when you notify the credit bureaus you are suing them.

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