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What do I have to do if a debt collector can not prove that it's authorized to collect a debt & doesn't sign a settlement offer?

New York, NY |

I’m dealing with a law firm collecting a medical bill of its client (a hospital). It offers a discounted amount for full settlement of an alleged debt. I’m ready to accept the offer, but I’m still concerned about 2 issues before accepting the offer. First, although my several requests for documentation showing that it is authorized by the hospital to collect the debt, the debt collector still doesn't provide it. Second, the offering letter for debt settlement is without signature.
I plan to send a written request again for the authorization document and signature, but what do I have to do if the debt collector can not or refuses to provide the document and signature?
Is there any law that exempts the debt collector from proving that it is authorized to collect the debt?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Sound like you are covering yourself by making the paper trail. I would not change the way you are going about the settlement.

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Posted

Debt collector must provide documentation that they are authorized to collect the debt. If you are sued, then you can request the documentation. You may consider hiring an attorney to reoresenting you.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.

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Jennifer Addonizio Rozen

Jennifer Addonizio Rozen

Posted

This is 100% correct and I would add that most 3rd party debt collectors do not have the proper documentation to show that they own the debt--at least they can rarely show that they do in court. I would caution you against entering into any payment plan until you determine 1) that the debt collector owns the debt and 2) that the debt is not old (if it's too old, the debt collector cannot recover it from you.) Good luck!

Jayson Lutzky

Jayson Lutzky

Posted

we agree

Posted

You Said It Is A Law Firm Collecting. Did They Send A Letter Of Representation? If They Did That Should Suffice. A Law Firm Is Different Than A Collection Agency. If The Law Firm Is A Valid, Licensed Law Firm In Your State You're Covered.

Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not create an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Cannella or her firm. This answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter, is not legal opinion, nor confidential in nature. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully.

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Asker

Posted

Yes, it's a law firm (based on its letter head), but I never received a letter of representation. The only debt validation it provided is a piece of paper of computer print out of the bill without the hospital letter head.

Jennifer Addonizio Rozen

Jennifer Addonizio Rozen

Posted

Many lawyers in NYC are considered debt collectors under the FDCPA. Just because letter comes from a law firm does not mean that the law firm's client can show that it owns the debt. (It has to show not only that you have, or once had a valid debt, but that it bought your account.) Be very wary even of collection letters from law firms.

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