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shadow99

Debt Collector did not sign for DV

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I sent a DV letter certified mail to a collector on July 1 in response to their initial letter dated June 9.

They called me today so I checked to see if they had delivered the letter.

USPS's website said they attempted delivery on July 9 & 10 and left notices. On both days, no one was available to accept the mail.

I called them today to ask them if they were going to accept. All they would do was ask me what they could do to get this paid. When I kept insisting that they needed to accept my mail, they questioned me about the nature of the dispute. I just kept saying they needed to pick up the letter. I have also emailed them with the specifics of the mail - tracking number, mailed date, attempted deliveries, deadline for delivery before return.

If they don't pick it up by July 23, it will be returned to me on July 24th.

What do you do if they refuse to take certified mail? Is that a violation of the FDCA?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, shadow99 said:
 

I sent a DV letter certified mail to a collector on July 1 in response to their initial letter dated June 9.

They called me today so I checked to see if they had delivered the letter.

USPS's website said they attempted delivery on July 9 & 10 and left notices. On both days, no one was available to accept the mail.

I called them today to ask them if they were going to accept. All they would do was ask me what they could do to get this paid. When I kept insisting that they needed to accept my mail, they questioned me about the nature of the dispute. I just kept saying they needed to pick up the letter. I have also emailed them with the specifics of the mail - tracking number, mailed date, attempted deliveries, deadline for delivery before return.

If they don't pick it up by July 23, it will be returned to me on July 24th.

What do you do if they refuse to take certified mail? Is that a violation of the FDCA?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

 

 

It’s not a violation of the FDCPA.  The law doesn’t require that they accept mail.  Did you send it to the physical address or to a P.O. Box?

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49 minutes ago, BV80 said:

It’s not a violation of the FDCPA.  The law doesn’t require that they accept mail.  Did you send it to the physical address or to a P.O. Box?

Refusing to accept the mail is NOT an FDCPA violation.  

Continuing collection actions after the letter was sent to a proper address IS an FDCPA violation.  This was discussed on this forum many years ago.  I forget the legal principal involved.  Simply put, they can't willfully refuse the letter and act as if it were never sent.  

I hope the OP is documenting everything.  

In a nutshell, do not talk to the collection agency.  The first time, tell them you will only deal with them by mail and immediately hang up.  After that, hang up, use an air siren, whatever.  I would block their number.  

What else should the OP do?  If this continues, sue them.  I once had a CA continue to call me at work after I sent a letter telling them not to.  They paid for my next vacation. 

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1 minute ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

Refusing to accept the mail is NOT an FDCPA violation.  

Continuing collection actions after the letter was sent to a proper address IS an FDCPA violation.  This was discussed on this forum many years ago.  I forget the legal principal involved.  Simply put, they can't willfully refuse the letter and act as if it were never sent.  

I hope the OP is documenting everything.  

In a nutshell, do not talk to the collection agency.  The first time, tell them you will only deal with them by mail and immediately hang up.  After that, hang up, use an air siren, whatever.  I would block their number.  

What else should the OP do?  If this continues, sue them.  I once had a CA continue to call me at work after I sent a letter telling them not to.  They paid for my next vacation. 

Did you notice that I asked the OP about the address to which the letter was sent?

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I sent it to their physical address. I am documenting everything. If the letter comes back, I'll file it along with a copy of the email I sent as further documentation.

Then, I guess I'll start logging letters and phone calls.

They were calling my husband's cell phone. They were using a local number - when you call it back, it rolls to the same phone system that their 1-800 line goes to.

I gave them my phone numbers and asked them not to call any other numbers, not that I answer my phone for anyone not on my contact list.

I have started calling numbers back from a different number to see who they are if they don't leave a message.

I didn't admit to anything. Every question they asked, I responded with "you need to accept my certified letter". I could tell them not to call, but I think I'll just let them keep calling.

They did try to tell me the initial letter was a validation letter. I reminded them that it had the standard 30-day verification verbiage on it, so I responded as instructed.

 

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23 minutes ago, BV80 said:
 

Did you notice that I asked the OP about the address to which the letter was sent?

Yes, which is why I used the phrase "proper address". 

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4 minutes ago, BackFromTheDebt said:

Yes, which is why I used the phrase "proper address". 

The OP stated that “On both days, no one was available to accept the mail.”.  The issue is why no one was available.   

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I compared the address on the certified letter receipt to the one on the collection letter - it matches.

I guess I'll see what it says when I get it back. If there was an error on my part or the post office's part, I'll mail it again.

The curious part - when I said they didn't accept it, they said something like, well there's no reason we wouldn't, but they didn't ask me what address I sent it to or anything. They just kept saying that the original letter was a validation letter and that I needed to tell them the specific reason I was disputing. I declined and said they should accept my letter - they said that until they did, it would be considered an active collection account.

I have now emailed them the tracking number, along with all of the relevant dates. If they want to get it, they will.

If it comes back with an error, I'll document everything, mail it again, but twice - once certified and once with only a delivery receipt.

That could possibly show that they are purposely not collecting anything that's certified. It's almost worth it to satisfy my curiosity. I'll update the thread next week when I find out.

 

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17 minutes ago, shadow99 said:

I compared the address on the certified letter receipt to the one on the collection letter - it matches.

I guess I'll see what it says when I get it back. If there was an error on my part or the post office's part, I'll mail it again.

The curious part - when I said they didn't accept it, they said something like, well there's no reason we wouldn't, but they didn't ask me what address I sent it to or anything. They just kept saying that the original letter was a validation letter and that I needed to tell them the specific reason I was disputing. I declined and said they should accept my letter - they said that until they did, it would be considered an active collection account.

I have now emailed them the tracking number, along with all of the relevant dates. If they want to get it, they will.

If it comes back with an error, I'll document everything, mail it again, but twice - once certified and once with only a delivery receipt.

That could possibly show that they are purposely not collecting anything that's certified. It's almost worth it to satisfy my curiosity. I'll update the thread next week when I find out.

 

I understand.  When I sent DV’s , if there was no address listed for that purpose, I sent them to the physical address where payment would be received.   We also have to consider that offices may not be open full-time due to COVID   

Please don’t have the attitude “if they want to receive it, they will.”  The FDCPA allows for bona  fide error which does not hold the debt collector responsible.  If all else fails, consult with a consumer attorney. 
 

 

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I asked them if there was a reason they would refuse to accept it. They said no.

I've emailed them with the tracking number along with the relevant dates from USPS.com.

I plan to mail again with proof that I had mailed within the 30-day deadline, sending both certified and just tracked delivery.

This is the only address I have for them - I've used it and the email address off the letter. I'm not sure what else to do.

If they were closed due to Covid, which I did think about, you'd think they would have said so.

At this point, I'm assuming it's a post office error, which does happen. I was mostly wondering if this kind of thing happens frequently and at what point does it become a violation. I'm mostly interested in the violations in case it goes to court.

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9 minutes ago, shadow99 said:

If they were closed due to Covid, which I did think about, you'd think they would have said so.

"Closed" during covid is a subjective term.  It is entirely possible their front line CSRs who do nothing but be on the phone and take payments are working from home.  They likely have NO idea what is going on with the mail.  If the letter requires someone to physically go to the post office to sign for it then that can get complicated if that responsible person is completely unaware the letter is there or furloughed.  Unfortunately there are too many variable due to the Covidiocy that will give a bona fide error defense.  Keep in mind the burden of proof they violated rests on your shouders.

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1 minute ago, Clydesmom said:

"Closed" during covid is a subjective term.  It is entirely possible their front line CSRs who do nothing but be on the phone and take payments are working from home.  They likely have NO idea what is going on with the mail.  If the letter requires someone to physically go to the post office to sign for it then that can get complicated if that responsible person is completely unaware the letter is there or furloughed.  Unfortunately there are too many variable due to the Covidiocy that will give a bona fide error defense.  Keep in mind the burden of proof they violated rests on your shouders.

Thanks for the advice, from you and everyone else. I'm not trying to be unreasonable; I was just very surprised that they didn't sign for the letter. It's the first time that's happened.

Right now, I'm figuring out the whole collections process thing from collections to disputes to arbitration. To say this site has been a wealth of information is a major understatement.

We had some setbacks, mostly health related, in the past few years that put us in a bad place financially. We're slowly digging out, but it's nice to have some leverage if I need to stall for more time at some point. If everyone's patient, we'll get things paid off in the next couple of years -  we just can't pay everyone at once.

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16 hours ago, BV80 said:

We also have to consider that offices may not be open full-time due to COVID

 

15 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

"Closed" during covid is a subjective term.

If they are open enough to be making and receiving phone calls, they can certainly open a mail box. I understand the people answering the phones aren't the ones checking mail, but if covid is an excuse to stop the inconvenient parts of the CAs business that prevent FDCPA violations, they also have to stop the other parts that lead to FDCPA violations. 

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2 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

If they are open enough to be making and receiving phone calls, they can certainly open a mail box.

You are assuming anyone is even at the office working.  I am doing 90% of my work from home unless in surgery.  We do not go in to our main office and all the mail was diverted to corporate to handle for billing on our cases.  I wouldn't know if a patient sent correspondence now at all.  Just because a CA is having people do collection calls from home doesn't mean they are getting mail. The OP would have to prove the business willfully ignored the DV.  

2 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

I understand the people answering the phones aren't the ones checking mail, but if covid is an excuse to stop the inconvenient parts of the CAs business that prevent FDCPA violations, they also have to stop the other parts that lead to FDCPA violations. 

It isn't an excuse but if they can legitimately show that the office was straight on closed with no employees in it then the OP will be hard pressed to get an FDCPA violation out of the Federal Courts in this jurisdiction because they are VERY creditor friendly.  The problem with this virus and closures of businesses and the courts is there is no precedent. There is NO way to predict what the courts are going to do when the stupidity goes away finally.  Until we start seeing rulings on motions and claims it is anyone's game.

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2 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

You are assuming anyone is even at the office working. 

No I'm not.

2 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

Just because a CA is having people do collection calls from home doesn't mean they are getting mail.

Obviously, but my point is they can't be 'open' enough to conduct operations that potentially lead to FDCPA violations but then say they aren't liable because they are 'closed'.  If they can't prevent FDCPA violations, they have to cease operations or face the liability.

6 minutes ago, Clydesmom said:

It isn't an excuse but if they can legitimately show that the office was straight on closed with no employees in it then the OP will be hard pressed to get an FDCPA violation out of the Federal Courts

Nonsense.  The employees aren't going rogue here.  They are operating under the direction of the employer, whether from a cubicle in an office or laying in bed in their underwear.  If the employer is telling them to make phone calls that potentially violate the FDCPA, the employer bears the burden of ensuring reasonable procedures are being maintained to avoid violations.  What's unreasonable about opening a mailbox 2 or 3 times a week?

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2 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

What's unreasonable about opening a mailbox 2 or 3 times a week?

Certified mail is not left in the mailbox.  There must be someone present in the office to sign for it.  

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2 hours ago, BV80 said:

Certified mail is not left in the mailbox.  There must be someone present in the office to sign for it.

If the letter requires a signature another issue is that in some companies only a specific person or people are authorized to sign for mail and packages.  If that person is unavailable that creates further problems.

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16 hours ago, BV80 said:

Certified mail is not left in the mailbox.  There must be someone present in the office to sign for it.  

Right. My bad. I thought OP had said he/she sent one via non-certified, but reading again i see that's the next move.  OP did say the person on the phone told him/her there's no reason they wouldn't have accepted the letter, though. If the offices aren't operating, the phone people should be aware of that. 

Which brings it back to my main point.  If they don't have the capability to prevent FDCPA violations, they shouldn't be conducting any sort of business that could lead to such violations.

14 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

If the letter requires a signature another issue is that in some companies only a specific person or people are authorized to sign for mail and packages.

If they don't have the capability to prevent FDCPA violations, they shouldn't be conducting any sort of business that could lead to such violations.

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They replied to my email. They stated that their office had remained open the entire time and had not closed for Covid. They could not explain why the tracking says no one was available to sign. However, they said they would not request the redelivery because it asked for "specific information", but I was welcome to ask for it. So, I did - I asked for it to be redelivered today, but the tracking stills says the redelivery is scheduled.

It may be a USPS error - the delivery attempts had one city name, but I had a chance to enter the address again on the redelivery request - now the city name matches the address on my receipt. However, I work with zip codes all the time - one zip code can be tied to multiple city names, and often is.

And, if it comes back, I'll mail it again - both certified and regular tracking with copies of the tracking & receipts for this one to show I was within the 30-day period.

Thanks for the comments. I learn a lot reading through all the back and forth.

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Still no movement on the tracking - only saying redelivery on the 22nd.

It's starting to look like the USPS messed up and I'll have to mail again with an explanation and proof that I originally mailed within the first 30 days.

Maybe I'll at least get a refund on the fees.

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The tracking hasn't changed but I have a big brown envelope full of papers from the collector.

I haven't went through it all yet, but it does have some copies of charges in it.

They either received it and I can't see, or they sent it based on my phone call. It doesn't matter - the net effect is that they sent more than a 1 page verification.

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17 hours ago, shadow99 said:

It doesn't matter - the net effect is that they sent more than a 1 page verification.

Right. They've validated the debt. Time to switch to plan b.

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OK, at this point they have validated the debt so the whole mailing thing is moot. However, you can still request a refund from the postal service. I was able to get one for the full postage when I sent out an appeal to my health insurance company CMRRR and never got the green card back (it was delivered and I won the appeal).

In any case, I would not have called them or emailed them at all once the letter was sent. I would have continued to let the USPS do its thing until either the letter was delivered or it was sent back to me. If I did get the letter back, I would put it unopened and not remove the green card into my my file until a violation occurred and then presented it to the judge as proof that they refused the letter. The legal principle BTW is Willful Ignorance.

As for COVID 19 as an excuse, that would be dependent on the judge. Some might rule that it is due to the nature of everything shutting down, some might rule that by June/July, the JDB/DC should have had processes in place for this, and other might rule that the FDCPA must be followed regardless if the collectors are working.

Again, this is moot at this point because they sent you a response to your DV so they covered their bases. Next time, be patient and don't try to rush the process if you are looking to elicit a violation.

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On 7/30/2020 at 12:33 PM, WhoCares1000 said:

OK, at this point they have validated the debt so the whole mailing thing is moot. However, you can still request a refund from the postal service. I was able to get one for the full postage when I sent out an appeal to my health insurance company CMRRR and never got the green card back (it was delivered and I won the appeal).

In any case, I would not have called them or emailed them at all once the letter was sent. I would have continued to let the USPS do its thing until either the letter was delivered or it was sent back to me. If I did get the letter back, I would put it unopened and not remove the green card into my my file until a violation occurred and then presented it to the judge as proof that they refused the letter. The legal principle BTW is Willful Ignorance.

As for COVID 19 as an excuse, that would be dependent on the judge. Some might rule that it is due to the nature of everything shutting down, some might rule that by June/July, the JDB/DC should have had processes in place for this, and other might rule that the FDCPA must be followed regardless if the collectors are working.

Again, this is moot at this point because they sent you a response to your DV so they covered their bases. Next time, be patient and don't try to rush the process if you are looking to elicit a violation.

I'll ask about the refund the next time I go to the post office. That's a good idea. Thank you - every dollar counts, right?

I called because they were calling my husband's cell over and over - that was never a number tied to the account, so I guess they got it off some directory because it's on the family plan in my name. I will keep a record of those calls. It was technically "MY" mobile number that they did not have permission to call.

In the letter, which I thought they would have received, it included my phone number.

Otherwise, I would have let it sit.  I'll still let it sit. About the time they're ready to take me to court, I should be in a better place financially to try to settle or I might pursue arbitration if the contract allows.

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That is where your husband should have answered and demanded they stop calling (and send a separate letter). In fact, he might still have a TCPA violation if you have those records since he never gave anyone permission to call him on his cell phone.

I would suggest getting the stuff ready for arbitration now and understanding how the process works. Until you have these people backed into a corner and realizing that this is going to cost quite a bit, they will probably not settle for too much.

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