If you are living this scenario, contact the collections attorney and resolve the matter, either by paying what you owe or providing proof that the debt is not yours.
When a debt collection attorney calls or sends you a demand letter, it means that an unpaid debt has passed through several levels and now requires legal action. Before resorting to a lawsuit, the owed party can send letters, emails, or attempt calls in an effort to recoup their losses. If you were not previously contacted about the debt in question, let the collections attorney know, as this can be an indicator of fraud or mistaken identity.
If the debt is not yours, the first thing you need to do is ask for a proof of the debt that you can examine. Contact the collection attorney’s office, preferably in writing, to find out exactly what is owed and to whom. Compare the proof to your financial records, rule out a forgotten debt, and make copies of your documentation.
Am I Responsible For the Debt?
An initial letter from an attorney does not automatically indicate you are going to be sued. However, it does need to be taken seriously and responded to promptly. Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your rights and your assets are protected. If you find you owe a forgotten debt, these steps will help you determine the amount and the payment process:
1. Ask for Validation
You have the right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to request verification of the debt. Write a letter to the attorney asking for proof of this particular debt. At a minimum, the attorney’s office is required to provide you with the name and contact information of the creditor and the amount of the debt owed.
Once you have this information, you will be able to dispute or verify the debt. Be aware that each state has a different statute of limitations on debt. Make sure to educate yourself on Arkansas’ statute of limitations. Even a valid debt may expire past the point of collection. Knowledge is power – and money – in this case.
2. Provide Proof
If you can prove that you have already paid the amount in question, or that the debt is not yours, present the appropriate records to the collection attorney. This will resolve the matter entirely in most cases upon verification. Bank statements, receipts, and notarized letters from your bank are all good examples of substantial proof.
3. Respond to the Court Summons
A summons to court is different from a collections letter. It is issued by your local courthouse, and legally requires your presence or a written response to the complaint filed. If the debt is yours, most attorneys are willing to set up a payment plan.
Do not panic if you are erroneously charged with a debt. A debt collection attorney will work with you to come up with a solution that resolves your debt. Their end goal is to find the correct consumer and retrieve the debt owed their client.
If you have received a collection notice for debts that are not yours, contact McHughes Law Firm at 501-376-9131 to learn about your options. Our law firm has been serving Arkansans since 1935 and we would gladly discuss your situation.