You may get dunned for a debt that you don’t owe, but might be forced to pay, anyway.
The New York Times reported on an interesting article about Nancy Taylor, a person with excellent credit who had recently been dunned for a debt that was not hers. Not only did she receive telephone calls and letters, all of which she responded to, but she was even sued for the debt. The case against her was ultimately dismissed although she had filed a counterclaim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In my opinion, it will be her counterclaim that ultimately gets her vindication.
Ms. Taylor’s case illustrates several important things. First, many debt collectors don’t really care who you are or whether you owe the debt or not. They are most concerned with whether your name is associated with the debt. A name such as Nancy Taylor is probably quite common. In her case, the debtor collector located the wrong Nancy Taylor but did not care about that.
The second thing that this case illustrates is that debt collectors and their attorneys rely on the fact that consumers, when sued, usually fail to file an answer to the complaint. This happens for several reasons. First, many times the debt is not large enough to warrant hiring an attorney. Second, the consumer waits for a notice to appear in court which does not come.
Many consumers will offer to pay the debt in an effort to make it go away. This is a mistake because the consumer then admits that this debt is his and it remains as a negative on his credit report for seven years. So what is a consumer do to do? Fight back!
The Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are two pro consumer statutes that exist to protect you. Under the FCRA, if a debt does not belong to you, you can dispute it and get it removed from your credit report. Under the FDCPA, if a collection abuses you, you can sue for that too. Under both of these laws, you are entitled to get your attorneys’ fees and costs paid by the defendant.
If you have been harassed or bullied by a debt collector, or if your credit report is inaccurate and the credit reporting agency will not fix it, email Attorney Gary Nitzkin or call toll free (888) 293-2882. For more information about our firm, visit our website, Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers. We have a lot of good information including short “how to” videos that you will find useful.