While it is not a requirement of FCRA for a debt collector to send notice prior to placing a negative mark on your credit reports, the FDCPA does require debt collectors send a written notice containing specific information about the debt, and an explanation of your rights. Not receiving notice is a violation of the FDCPA.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for all the useful information! I feel like I’m in a situation in which you’re speaking of. I’m with Credit Karma working on building my credit, it’s been doing so well the last few months, until I recently got a notification that my report change. Looks like a collection agency just reported a debt. I have no clue what this company is and where they come from, so I looked them up “Phoenix Financial Services” I called them and they ask for my name, etc. Then they proceed to tell me that in February they had received notice of a debt from a hospital in 2011–the lady said its the doctors portion of a debt. I’m honestly unsure if the debt belongs to me or not, but I let her know that I did not believe the debt to be mine, that I plan on finding out if its valid or not, and I will not make any motions toward paying it until I’m able to validate it. She asked me if this was the first time I’m hearing of this and I said clearly yes. I told her I cannot claim this debt, she asked me if I wanted to dispute it with her and I said no, I won’t dispute something that I don’t know belongs to me. It’s not mine.
On Credit Karma the date that’s reporting is Feb 17, 2017, but they are trying to tell me it’s a debt from September 2011. Does this count as them trying to re-age my debt? Did I say the right things when I spoke to them? I’m also kind of worried that speaking to them restarted something. Thank you so much! what a great article!
ANSWER: Your kind words are appreciated. And, congratulations on your rebuilding journey. Speaking to the debt collector did not restart the collection period. If the debt is yours and it is from September 2011, then it would be removed from your credit reports around September 2018. I would not spend too much more time speaking to the debt collector. As I see you there are two different ways to approach this issue.
Your kind words are appreciated. And, congratulations on your rebuilding journey – it's time-consuming but worth the effort. Speaking to the debt collector did not restart the collection period. If the debt is yours and it is from September 2011, then it would be removed from your credit reports around September 2018. I would not spend too much more time speaking to the debt collector. As I see you there are two different ways to approach this issue.
(1) Start a paper trail by sending the debt collector a letter stating the debt is unknown to you. Basically an “unknown debt” letter does not dispute the debt because you are right, how can you dispute a debt that does not belong to you. A simple letter stating that you have no knowledge of the debt and that you request verification of the debt under the FDCPA 809(b) including the amount owed, an itemization of the principal balance and interest and the name of the original creditor along with the date the debt was incurred. Wait a few weeks to see if you get verification. If not, make a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – state on your complaint that the resolution be deletion of the debt from your credit reports.
(2) Take your request for deletion directly to the credit bureaus. The best way to get debt that is not yours removed from your credit reports is to use FCRA Section 605b which says in part that “a consumer reporting agency shall block the reporting of any information in the file of a consumer that the consumer identifies as information that resulted from an alleged identity theft, not later than 4 business days after the date of receipt by such agency of: (1) appropriate proof of the identity of the consumer; (2) a copy of an identity theft report; (3) the identification of such information by the consumer; and (4) a statement by the consumer that the information is not information relating to any transaction by the consumer…” You can find the form needed to submit to the credit bureaus here.
The best of luck to you!