Disputing debt collection
November 4, 2015 2:06 PM   Subscribe

How do I (a n00b) fight a collections agency holding debt I am not liable for?

In August I wrote this ask about a car previously sold and then abandoned with my name on the title. The towing and storage fees have been picked up by a collections agency to the tune of $1100 and I received first contact with them via a phone call. They have not sent me any physical mail. I’m not being sued and the debt hasn’t appeared on my credit report (yet).

I want to dispute this since I am not liable under Section 257.240 legislation. I have the bill of sale with all of the information specified. This is less proof than I wish I had since I don’t have a photocopy of the signed title or a certified check, but it’s technically what is minimally required.

Do I send them a certified letter based on scody’s template with my explanation and proof? (and do you actually rope in Attorney General and the original company?)

Do I lawyer up or does that come later if necessary? There are a couple University or non-profit legal aid centers I can tap I think for assistance or in help finding a lawyer if that's the route I should go.
posted by rawralphadawg to Law & Government (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

I had a scuzzy landlord that tacked on a fraudulent charge after I moved out and sent it to collections without ever contacting me. For debt disputes it's really important to formally dispute the debt within 30 days of notice. The CFPB has a form letter for this on their website.

After going through the proper channels the collections agency just continued calling me, without sending any proof that the debt existed or was valid (invoices or photos). We contacted CFPB through an online form and they had someone get back to us right away to help us figure out what to do next.
posted by forkisbetter at 3:57 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Send a letter to the debt collector asking for validation of the debt and directing them to communicate with you only by mail. Send this as a certified letter with return receipt. When they send you documents that claim you owe the debt, dispute said debt with your documentation, again certified.

If they call you after receiving your first letter, you can sue them in small claims for the statutory damages for the FDCPA violation. If they fail to provide documentation of the validity of the debt, that is another violation on which you can collect. The idea behind the multiple rounds is to give you a chance to make money from the sleazeballs before you shut them down. ;)

If you don't want to collect your free money, direct them to never contact you when you send proof that you did not own the car and are therefore not liable and include that documentation in your first reply to their dunning letter. If they contact you other than by serving you with a suit, that is a violation. Once you inform them that they can't contact you, federal law prohibits them from contacting you.

(If they never sent a dunning letter, that is another violation, BTW)
posted by wierdo at 7:40 AM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I had the exact same issue. I submitted a complaint on their website and the dealt with the entire thing for me. It was negatively affecting my credit too so CFPB had them fix that too.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:16 AM on November 6, 2015

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