What can I provide to a creditor that is sufficient proof that a debt is not mine?

UPDATED: May 17, 2012

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What can I provide to a creditor that is sufficient proof that a debt is not mine?

The debt ($249) is for a utility in another state which I have never lived in. I was living at home with my mother but was employed full-time and even have medical records for a broken leg that I suffered during the time that this utility was opened. I had perfect credit until this collections was placed on my account. Now it basically has the same affect as if I’d gone into bankruptcy which is causing me financial damages. If they do not remove this derogatory information, I will seek to sue them to remove it. I feel this is defamation but false light has been suggested by another lawyer.

Asked on May 17, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Potential evidence includes records of where you were living (utility bills, leases, deeds, property taxes, etc.), credit reports (which can show residence), testimony of other people--all the things you seem to have thought of. If they essentially accuse you of owning (not renting) a home elsewhere and paying for its utilities as owner, you could check the property records for that state (they are public documents) to see who did own it; and if they accuse you of renting and being responsible for utilities, once you find out who owned it, perhaps you can get a statement from them that they never rented to you.

You can sue for a declaratory judgment (or court determination that this is not your debt), for an injunction (court order) that they take all steps to remove this/correct it on your credit; and possibly for monetary compensation for costs you have incurred directly due to the misreport. However, you likely cannot successfully sue and recover for defamation or false light since it is highly unlikely that you could show the required knowledge or at least recklessness in regard to the claim's or statement's falsity in making this accusation--simply being mistaken about who owes money is not in itself defamation, for example.

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