Collection agencies representing the movie houses ARE governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
In response to my last blog post about a certain collection agency that is pursuing individuals who “pirate” movies, I received the below email from one such victim of that collection agency. You see, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to these debt collectors. The consumer has a right to demand validation of the debt and if he does not get it, he can sue the debt collector.
I wanted to thank you for the informative article that you posted entitled “Collection Agency for Movie Studios is going to get into trouble”. I thought that I might be able to provide you with another perspective on how these people work. I recently received a notice forwarded through my ISP that claimed that I had infringed upon one of their “copyrighted works” (which I didn’t, but that’s another issue entirely). I emailed them and told them that I had no knowledge of this work, and their response was basically that they had my IP address and therefore I was responsible. I told them that if they had indeed correctly identified that IP address, then I felt that I had most likely been the victim of some type of IP fraud or service theft. They said that the registered owner of thet IP (me) is responsible regardless of who caused the infringement or how it was done. I then asked them for a verification of debt in accordance with my rights under the FDCPA. They refused and replied that they were not a debt collector and therefore were not bound under the FDCPA. They clam that have identified my IP address and want me to pay them $125 in order to settle the matter and avoid having my name dragged through the courts on the other side of the country where I couldn’t feasibly appear to defend myself. They are also quick to point out on their website that settling with them is much cheaper than defending yourself. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that if they are claiming that I have a debt to a third party and that I should pay that debt to them, then they are a debt collector and should be bound under the FDCPA. If they are not alleging that there is a debt, then this seems like a good old fashioned shakedown scam. Again, Thank you for the informative article. It seemed to me that you had an interest in the subject and I thought that you might like to hear it from the perspective of someone who has had the unpleasant experience of being accused by them. Have a great day.
Drew gave me permission to reprint this email and to share it with you. Here are the things you should know about Drew’s experience:
1. Just because the collection agency or its client had Drew’s IP address does NOT necessarily make Drew liable for violation of the movie house’s intellectual property rights. The collector was absolutely wrong. This alone is a major violation of the FDCPA.
2. Drew has a right to demand validation of the debt. As it happens, there is no debt. There is a claim for liability, but there is no number associated with that liability. The debtor collector’s refusal to provide validation of the debt is another major violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
3. Finally, Drew has the right to sue the debt collector for actual damages or statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus costs, interest and attorneys’ fees. It would cost Drew nothing to pursue his claim.
If you have been bothered by a debt collector, contact Attorney Gary Nitzkin by email or at (888) 293-2882 for a free consultation.
If you have been victimized by a debt collector or have items on your credit report that are incorrect, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation at (888) 293-2882. For more information about your credit rights as a consumer, visit our blog at www.micreditlawyer.com/blog. Visit our website at www.micreditlawyer.com.