There is conflicting caselaw. Once case says that the junk debt buyer only needs to state what you owe and provide only minimal verification. See Chaudry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394 , ___(4th Cir. 1999) (holding that verification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed; the debt collector is not required to keep detailed files of the alleged debt. See Azar v. Hayter, 874 F.Supp. 1314, 1317 (N.D.Fla.), aff'd, 66 F.3d 342 (11th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1048, 116 S.Ct. 712, 133 L.Ed.2d 666 (1996). Consistent with the legislative history, verification is only intended to "eliminate the ... problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid." S.Rep. No. 95-382, at 4 (1977), reprinted in 1977 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1695, 1699. There is no concomitant obligation to forward copies of bills or other detailed evidence of the debt. Other cases require more.
A junk debt buyer can still sue you. PA requires the creditor to attach a copy of the credit card statement as well as proof that the junk debt buyer now owns the debt. If they do not and the case is in regular court, you can file preliminary objections. If the case is in small claims, there are not any similar requirements but you can demand proof at the hearing. See Atlantic Credit & Finance v. Giuliana, 829 A,2d 340, ___ (Pa. Suiiper 2003) (holding that the failure to attach the writings which assertedly establish appellee’s right to a judgment against appellants in the amount of $17,496.27, based on an alleged debt it allegedly purchased for substantially
less than $9,644.66, is fatal to the claims set forth in appellee’s complaint)
However, don't hang your hat on this. Is it your debt? If it is and if the statute of limitations has not expired yet, I would write to the junk debt buyer and say that you do not dispute that a debt is owed to the original creditor but you require proof that the junk debt buyer lawfully has a right to collect the debt because you don't want to be in the position of paying this debt twice. Ask for the proof of ownership - should be a bill of sale or some document assigning or transferring the debt from the original creditor to the junk debt buyer. If the debt was sold more than once, you need all proofs of sale in the chain of title.
The statute of limitations in PA is generally 4 years from the date of your last payment. (assuming this is a PA debt). If the statute has expired or is close to expiring, it might be better to say nothing and see what happens. If you are sued after the statute has expired, then go see a lawyer immediately. I see that you are in the Pittsburgh area. Attorney Greg Artim here at Avvo is one lawyer who engages in credit card defense and he is in your area. I am sure there are others too.
1) Generally, a credit card statement that pertains to the alleged debt in question is sufficient for "debt validation."
2) Regarding its admissibility (will it hold up in court):
The Rules of Evidence permit various documents and testimony in or out of court depending on complex analysis and the prowess of the person seeking admission or advocating exclusion. Moreover, the Rules of Evidence are fluid and generally depend on a judge's reasoned discretion. After a judge considers hearsay, exceptions to hearsay, foundation testimony, and the trustworthiness of a document in question, he or she will decide whether to allow the document into evidence or exclude it.
Consulting with an attorney should allow you to nail some of this down. I recommend Stephen Otto in your area, and you can find his referral information by checking out www.NACA.net.
I generally agree with the prior responses. However in Pennsylvania there is a split of authorities among the 67 County Courts of Common Pleas,even judges in the same count court, as to what the Creditor needs to prove in order to collect the account. Some judges require complete statements of account and a signed credit card application, some allow a cause of action for "quantim meruit", and others allow a action for an "account stated". Since you are located in Pittsburgh, suggest you consult with a Pitttsburgh attorney who represents consumer debtors.
Mr. Geisenberger is a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Jacques H. Geisenberger, Jr., P.C.,does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege.