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Mistaken or Stolen Identity in Debt Collector Mixup

Last week, Reader Anthony sent me a most puzzling email and one that kind of hit home for me. He has a fairly common name, much like Jim Wang is pretty common, and he’s been getting debt collection calls for another Anthony who lives in the same geographic area, shares the same exact name (including middle initial), and has fallen behind on some debts. here’s a portion of his email:

This other person, also in N. CA, with middle initial S., apparently is 3 months late on his credit cards from Macy’s, Capital One, and this one NCB Management (Google says this firm is a collections agency).

I’ve been getting repeated collections calls from these companies instead of this other guy. How did my name end up associated with this person? My best guess is a mysterious call I received on May 5th, from an unknown number, when a woman asked to verify my name and the up-to-dateness of my information. All that she asked was “Hi, am I speaking to Anthony Smith?” and “is this your current phone number?”…? Well of course it is, I answered. Then I tried to ask if she can tell me who she’s calling on behalf of, and she just said “sir, I am not allowed to reveal that information”…

But starting from the next day, I started getting collections calls, perhaps once a week. Every time I explain (with less patience each time) to the rep on the phone that I am the wrong person, and they apologize and promise to remove my number from their list. Except they don’t, I’ve gotten contacted on three occasions by Macy’s, twice by NCB, and three times by Capital One.

Fair warning to your readers – if they ever get one of these calls, make sure to be very specific on what they verify…


(Click to continue reading…)


 Debt 
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Debt Collectors Don’t Check Debts, You Should

I blogged a while ago about the “halo effect” and how being fiscally responsible can be a sort of “Get out of jail free” card for those rare occasion when you slip up. But what happens when it’s not you who has made the mistake?

I recently got entangled in a bit of an accounting snafu that quite frankly pretty much ruined my weekend. Here’s what happened:

On Saturday as I was heading out to the gym, I stopped by the mailbox to pick up my mail and found an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential.” In my experience, that’s usually a signal that the contents within are just some ad scheme–be it a credit card offer or time share scam or the dreaded “you’ve won a prize and must call xxx-xxx-xxxx immediately to claim it…” Upon opening the letter, however, I was confronted with a statement from a bill collector for an allegedly unpaid bill for a medical laboratory.

Yikes! Talk about a buzz kill…
(Click to continue reading…)


 Debt 
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The Road Out of Debt Review

The Road Out of DebtFor a lot of people, the term bankruptcy evokes the same emotions as the word cancer. To hear someone has gone through bankruptcy is like hearing they are getting chemotherapy for a malignant tumor or treatment for a life threatening disease. To others, bankruptcy sounds a lot like surrender and defeat. To wave the white flag to your creditors and admit you are a failure and cannot keep the promises you’ve made.

The reality is that bankruptcy is a business decision and should be seen as such. When people talk about Donald Trump going through bankruptcy, they don’t look at him as if he were a pariah. He’s a business man and bankruptcy is merely another tool in his toolkit. The Road Out of Debt, written by Joan Feeny and Theodore Connolly, is a book about getting out of debt with that perspective on bankruptcy. It’s not a book about bankruptcy, it’s a book about debt with a look at how not thinking about bankruptcy is a mistake.

(Click to continue reading…)


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Debt Collector Crusader Craig Cunningham in Dallas Observer

When I wanted to run a series on fighting debt collectors, I knew I wanted an expert. I was fortunate to have little in the way of debt (just a mortgage and student loans) so I had no personal experience with combating with debt collectors, but I knew someone on Fatwallet, Codename47, was a debt collector ninja. I had seen all his posts, how he helped people deal with unscrupulous debt collectors, and I knew he was our guy.

I, and hopefully you, weren’t disappointed. I called him the real deal before he wrote a single post, that’s how confident I was, and after the series was complete, I think we can all agree.

Recently, Craig was in an article by Kimberly Thorpe for the Dallas Observer. In it, we get a better understanding of why Craig has so much insight (bad bets and a lot of research!) and how people like him are fighting back against the system.

As you read his story, there are two things I hope you to notice – he never plays the victim and he never blames anyone for his debt. He took some bets that turned out badly and now is simply playing the game by the rules, catching debt collectors with their pants down.

I, for one, am glad to see a “little” guy giving the big bad debt collectors a run for their money. Serves them and their predatory practices right.


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How to Sue Debt Collectors

Lawyer BooksNow that you are aware of what happens when debt collectors violate the FDCPA and you have some recorded phone calls, credit reporting violations, and false or misleading statements by a collector, what do you do then?

You sue them.

Nothing gets a company’s attention like slapping them with a lawsuit. As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone gets sued.

From here, you have two choices and both will take you to the courthouse:

  • You can retain a lawyer to represent you, or,
  • Do it yourself.

I’ll explain both.

(Click to continue reading…)


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Understanding 1st Party and 3rd Party Collectors

I have been following the How to Fight Debt Collectors series and noticed that the articles are all geared towards third party collections. For 3 years, I worked as a first party collector in the collections department for a mortgage company.

During that time, I learned a lot about debt, people, and collection law. I did some things that may have been considered shady but I never broke the law. The reason is in the distinction between 1st party and 3rd party collections.

(Click to continue reading…)


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What are Junk Debt Buyers?

So many bills!Junk Debt Buyers, also called JDB’s, engage in the business of buying distressed assets at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect on that debt. Sometimes they try to go after the full amount, sometimes they’ll accept a settlement amount of 50% or less. It’s not a bad business to be in, except they suffer from one very crucial weakness a smart debt collection fighter knows. When challenged, they can rarely obtain any sufficient documentation of the debt. In other words, they can’t validate the debt after someone has sent a debt dispute letter!

(Click to continue reading…)


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When Debt Collectors Violate the FDCPA

DebtAs we learned in this classic abusive debt collection story, and Craig’s awesome response, debt collectors are often unfamiliar with the law. Not only are they unfamiliar with it, they routine violate it… which means you get to collect from them.

Want an example? Let’s say you call a collector to check on the status of your dispute. They decide to solicit payment from you… that collector has just violated the FDCPA and they now owe you at least $1,000.

Oh… it gets better.

(Click to continue reading…)


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