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Atty Lawrence Hecker's office contacted me


calidebt
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Hi -

I just discovered this useful site. A family member was contacted by Lawrence Hecker's office earlier today about a debt on a credit card from Fleet bank that they say I owe. The information they left with my family is contact name, firm name, phone number, and claim number. They also told my family that they had sent two letters to me regarding this "issue". I know from past experience and my own research that they're not allowed to reveal any details to anyone but me. The mention of the letters seemed to violate that.

When I called them, I spoke with a woman (who was moderately pleasant) who informed me of the information they had on file, and claimed that they had only sent me one letter, dated July 3rd, then she transferred me to Mr Hecker's assistant. He was initially somewhat cordial when I listened to him. He offered me a settlement of 70%. I've dealt with a couple of other agencies in the past, and as I said, I've done some research into my rights, so I listened to his pitch and then informed him that I would need to see this in writing to confirm that this information is accurate, since this is the first time I've heard from anyone about this. He said he'd fax me the letter right away if I could give him a fax # (this involved a mini-conversation that got heated when he threatened to proceed with the claim if I didn't get him a number within two hours). I gave him a number where he could send it to.

I'd informed him a few times in the call that going forward, he needed to only deal with me, and that no other party was to be called again. I know that's within my rights, and when I brought that up, he became more and more gruff and loosely threatening, stating basically (I can't remember the exact wording) that further contact would be within the law, and that if I eluded him, he would have no other choice than to contact family again. He never made a note on my record of my request, and refused to acknowledge it.

The whole conversation was very push, push, push, which is what I know they do. I have to pick up the fax and look over the letter, and compare it to my records (I think I may have even paid this off with someone else last year).

My questions, given the above information, are this:

Was the woman who called my family in the wrong for revealing information about previous contact with me, i.e, the letter(s) sent?

Am I wrong about the "contact" issue? Isn't it within my rights to have them only deal with me going forward, now that they have my correct contact information? How do I enforce this with them?

How much time do I have to look into this? Given what I've seen on these boards, this is one of the less reputable agencies to deal with (putting it lightly), and I'd like to compare my records to their's, call Fleet to see if this is a valid claim, and do some research. As they've said, time is not on my side.

No matter what the situation (valid or not valid) is it within my rights to only deal with them via fax or USPS?

I know it's my responsibility to take care of this if it IS valid (at one point, he got so heated he said, "do you think it's right that you've taken money from these people?"). But of course, they're doing the pressure thing to take care of this as soon as possible.

I really appreciate any time and help anyone can give me on here. It makes me sick to know who I'm dealing with.

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First, calm down and take your emotions out of this. The guy was a jerk, but that won't make the debt go.

Questions:

1. Did you every have a Fleet card? Did you default?

2. If this is yours, how old is the debt? Is it SOL?

3. If this is yours, can you offer a settlment.

Theses are the questions you need to deal with right now. The issue about contacting your family is subject to the FDCPA. Text concerning third party contact is below. If you were to make a claim on this, you would need to have proof that they violated. From what you've posted, it sounds like they skillfully hit the gray area, where they didn't use the actual word "debt" or "collection." They just said the call was for an "issue."

§ 804. Acquisition of location information [15 USC 1692b]

Any debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall --

(1) identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer;

(2) not state that such consumer owes any debt;

(3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information;

(4) not communicate by post card;

(5) not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication effected by the mails or telegram that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt; and

(6) after the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with regard to the subject debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney's name and address, not communicate with any person other than that attorney, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to the communication from the debt collector.

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Thank you for your reply, Swirlgirl. I was hoping to come across as matter-of-fact, but may have gotten a little panicky.

Assuming if what they say is true, the card was opened in 1998 and (according to them) payment stopped in 2004. I live in California, so I'm not sure what the SOL is here.

Once and if I determine this to be accurate, I can offer them a settlement, but like most people, I'm not able to hand over thousands of $$ within a few days.

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Stop dealing with these people on the telephone - a real attorney is not going to ignore the law or try to manipulate you the way this person did...in other words, this is just a CA with a title! :)

Send them a DV letter as soon as possible, CMRRR, and as part of that letter "remind" them that they are not to contact anyone but you with regards to this matter.

If this is your debt and it is owed then you should pay it/settle it but don't do so in ignorance...if you possibly paid this before then you most certainly need more information before you should be discussing any sort of "settlement".

By that way,California SOL appears to be four years so there is a good chance this is past the SOL and not collectable through court action in which case, settling for 5 or 10% of the amount owed, if you really do owe it, would be a gift on your part.

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Thanks Robert.

As an update, I just received the letter. It looks like they've decided to proceed as if they'd communicated with me prior to today, as the letter said nothing about giving me 30 days to contest or validate the claim. This seems more like a "second warning", which doesn't seem right since this is the first thing I've received from them.

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Thanks Robert.

As an update, I just received the letter. It looks like they've decided to proceed as if they'd communicated with me prior to today, as the letter said nothing about giving me 30 days to contest or validate the claim. This seems more like a "second warning", which doesn't seem right since this is the first thing I've received from them.

They said they sent you a letter July 3rd. If that's this July 3rd and that's their only letter then you are still within the 30 day validation window.

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What the others have said is pretty much on the nose.

Regarding some of your earlier questions: Swirlgirl posted the relevant portion of the FDCPA: They may contact others only to collect contact information. They may have (barely) kept from violating this, but going forward they have no business contacting anyone else, since they have now made contact with you and you have begun a dialog.

And you absolutely have the right to communicate with them only by mail. There may not be a legal basis to sue if they don't comply, but communicate with them by mail and just refuse to discuss anything with them on the phone.

And yes, California SOL is 4 years.

Thanks Robert.

As an update, I just received the letter. It looks like they've decided to proceed as if they'd communicated with me prior to today, as the letter said nothing about giving me 30 days to contest or validate the claim. This seems more like a "second warning", which doesn't seem right since this is the first thing I've received from them.

Now, I won't write the letter for you word for word, but IMHO here are the points you want to make. (Take the offensive a little - I've done exactly the following)

- You have received their letter (enclose a copy for their reference)

- As it is their first contact with you it violates the FDCPA as it fails to include the FDCPA required Verification Statement

- Regardless, you are exercising your rights per the FDCPA, and are disputing the debt, requesting verification of the debt, and requesting the name and address of the Original Creditor (these words parrot the wording in the FDCPA Verification Statement, which they didn't include)

- Verification of the debt is to include a copy of the agreement you allegedly signed, proof they have the right to collect the alleged debt, and a complete accounting of the amount they say you owe, accounting for all charges, payments, interest, fees, penalties, etc.

- you request all further contact to be by mail, so you have copies for your records

- under no circumstances are they to make phone calls to family, friends, neighbors, or to your place of employment

Good luck

DH

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