Debt collection is wrong

Debt collection is wrong
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#1

My partner received a notice from Midland Capital saying he owes ~$600 on a credit card from 10+ years ago. He is absolutely sure he never opened/used this card, but is unsure how to prove it.

He asked for and received a debt verification letter from the collection agency. In the letter they mention an address he never lived at. He spoke with an agent on the phone before this and the last 4 digits of his SSN do not match the account. Collections still says this debt is his.

I believe the next step is for him to send a letter to the collector disputing the debt. How can he verify / provide proof that it is not his debt while protecting his identity?


#2

Ugh, debt collections are unpleasant and often very confusing, especially when the debt is a decade old or more.

Did the agency send a validation letter or an actual verification letter? The terminology is not the clearest, but a validation letter comes first and then you can follow up by requesting a verification letter. You can ask for very detailed information such as a copy of the original contract, a copy of the last billing statement sent by the creditor and whether the debt is past the statute of limitations. (Here’s more on the validation and verification process.)

Assuming you have the verification letter in hand, you’re right, the next step is to dispute the debt. It’s important to do that immediately, because after a 30-day window you lose valuable rights. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has an explanation of your rights todispute a debt.

The dispute process may reveal information that will help your partner prove he’s not the correct person.

If not, you run the risk that the collector will sue for payment. If that happens, be sure to show up in court. In court, collectors must prove the debt is owed, and by the person being sued — the burden is on them. But too often people ignore the court summons. If you don’t show up, the collector will almost certainly get a default judgment compelling payment, often through wage garnishment.

Debt collection is tough to navigate, and you may want to seek legal advice. (This is where I remind you, I’m not a lawyer or debt-collection expert!) If you need help paying, contact your local legal aid office or veteran’s services if applicable.


#3

So sorry your partner has to deal with this, @ireneaconlon. @khinson gave you some good info. The good news is that even if this were his debt, it’s so old that the statute of limitations has almost certainly expired (unless you live somewhere with super-long SOLs, like Kentucky). The SOL limits how long creditors have to sue over a debt. That doesn’t mean they don’t, because they frequently do, but showing up in court and pointing out that the SOL has expired would be enough to get the case dismissed.

It’s also too old to report it to the credit bureaus. He should check his credit reports, just in case, and file a dispute on the off chance it’s being reported.

My inclination is that he should write a letter telling Midland the debt isn’t his and that it should stop contacting him. That will likely be the end of it.