Don’t assume you owe the debt!
Did you know that debt collectors frequently try to collect debts from people who never borrowed the money in the first place? Yes, that’s right, frequently when debt collectors buy a portfolio of debts all they get is a spreadsheet with names and very basic information.
Unfortunately many debt collectors are happy to collect money from people who don’t owe the debt and sometimes don't worry about collecting against the correct individual.
One debt buyer shut down by the FTC collected 80% of its money from people who never owed the original debt in the first place!
One collector even tried to pull this stunt on me! A couple of years ago I checked my credit report and discovered that it had plunged several hundred points. My first thought of course was “Ah! Someone stole my identity!”
With a couple of minutes of research, some deductive reasoning, and a couple of phone calls, I tracked down this Timothy imposter who I believed to have stolen my identity.
Poor guy. As it turns out he actually is Timothy Snyder. No, he’s not pretending to be me. It’s just that his parents have impeccable taste and decided to give him the same name.
Now back to my credit report. Yes, the other Timothy’s debts were reported on my credit report but not because he stole my identity. Instead, as it turned out, a debt collector bought the other Timothy’s debts and reported them on a bunch of Timothy Snyder credit reports figuring it would try to collect the debt against all of the Timothys (plural for Timothy) it could find.
Yes. This is pretty ridiculous but it happens in the debt collection industry. At any rate, I called the debt collector and kindly asked them to correct the false information.
Apparently sophisticated reasoning was not this collector’s specialty. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this particular collector mistook volume for persuasiveness. Each person I talked to yelled louder and made more threats, apparently believing that this would convince me that I really am not myself but am another Timothy that owes them a debt.
Now I know that not everyone is fond of lawyers. But there are times when it comes in handy being a lawyer. Needless to say, I took care of the problem and that debt collector will not be bothering me again.
But the point of all this is that you should not assume that you owe a debt collector a debt. I know a lot of people have gone through hard times and have defaulted on debts. There are many reasons for this. Most of the time it is because of unemployment, a medical emergency, a divorce, or other hardship. But, while you may have outstanding debts, this doesn’t mean that you owe the debt collector the debt they are calling about.
It may be that you don’t owe the debt. It may also be that the debt has been illegally inflated. Another debt collector shut down by the FTC illegally added charges to the debts it was collecting. The company operated for ten years and collected 10.2 million dollars before being shut down. The owner fled the country.
So, think carefully before you decide to put up with a debt collector. And realize that any admissions or payments you make could interfere with your legal rights. I think there are generally better causes you can give your money to than the support of debt collectors.
Call me for a free initial consultation if you want some help! (904) 419-9858