What do I do if a collection company refuses to provide me with a copy of any documents to explain what they are collecting?

UPDATED: Jan 29, 2011

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What do I do if a collection company refuses to provide me with a copy of any documents to explain what they are collecting?

I got a call from a collection agency that left a misleading message on my voicemail. When I called back the agent I spoke with immediately launched into a bullying attempt to get me to pay him $1000 for a 2 year old bill. I asked for more info as I did not know what he was speaking about as he never once used the name of the original debtor. I asked for copies and he began getting worked up and telling me I was refusing to pay so he would be sending to the enforcement team. I asked what that meant and he said they would pursue “involuntary means” of collection. Am I entitled to copies?

Asked on January 29, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If this is a third party debt collector--i.e. it's not the collections department of the actual creditor--then they are bound by the terms of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), which prevents certain types of harassment or threats and requires them, on written demand, to validate the debt. If it's an in-house collector for a creditor, the FDCPA does not apply. In either event, if you aren't willing to pay (e.g. you don't understand or believe the debt), to seek payment, they will have to sue you. If they sue you, you can, in the lawsuit, use the mechanisms of the court to require them to prove the debt--and if they can't or will not at that time, you may be able to countersue for certain expenses or damages.

Here is a link to the FDCPA, so you can see your rights vs 3rd-party debt collectors: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

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