You most certainly do, and it well within your rights to demand it. This is a very important piece of information that you have the right to ask for, and the collection agency has a complete and absolute obligation to provide to you. And all you need to do is request it.
To begin with, there is very specific federal law out there that governs what a debt collector may and may not do when trying to collect on a debt. This law is known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and it regulates a broad range of activities. For instance, a collection agency is not allowed to contact you on your cell phone. Such activity is strictly prohibited, and is a violation of law (most people don’t realize that). Another example involves threatening or rude behavior. So if the collector says something like, “Hey, if you don’t pay. I’m going to garnish your wages!”, they have broken the law (because unless the original creditor has previously given express permission for the collection agency to do this, and the collector is prepared to make good on this threat immediately, it is a violation).
One very important right that you own as a citizen of the United States is to request that the debt in question be verified by the collection agency. By requesting verification, you are being given a chance to see if in fact this particular debt that you are being called about is yours. Because if it is not, then you will have a chance to dispute it. But frequently, when the collector asked to provide verification, they do not. The collector will say something like, “Verification?! I’ll give you verification. You owe the debt! That’s your verification. No pay up!!” This is a clear violation of law (for a number of reasons).
Once verification is requested, the collection agency must provide to you within five (5) days the following information: 1) the amount of the debt in question; 2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed; 3) a written statement guaranteeing that you can dispute the debt within thirty (30) days of receipt; 4) a written statement that the debt collector will obtain proof of the debt if you dispute it within thirty days; and 5) a written statement that the debt collector will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor within thirty days. If these items are not provided to you within a timely manner as set out by the statute, this is also a violation of federal law.
The penalties for violating the law come in the form of damages that need to be paid to you. This is usually in the amount of $1,000. The bonus is that, if a violation is proven, the collection agency is required to pay all your attorney fees. This means that there is no upfront cost to you. In addition, you always have the option of filing a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get rid of the rest of your debt.
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy lawyers at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been making sure that our clients rights are protected for years. Our goal is to get you on the road to financial freedom, and get you the fresh start / clean slate you deserve. All phone conversations and office consultations are free of charge.