There are more than 1 billion credit cards in our country today, with Americans carrying roughly $8400 of debt on average. This could take 30 years for the average individual to pay off. Dealing with debt and credit issues can be an emotional, and often uncomfortable process. But, it doesn’t need to be.
As an industry, third party debt collection is committed to treating each consumer with dignity and respect, along with offering solutions that benefit both the consumer and the creditor.
As a consumer, you have rights that protect you under state debt collection laws, as well as under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). By understanding the facts, you will be empowered to help yourself cope with your collection concerns and solve your debt problems.
Collect the Truth wants to be a resource to you. We’re answering some of the most common consumer questions, and hopefully shedding a little more light on what you might not know about third party collection and consumer rights.
To learn more, you may also visit www.consumerfinance.gov for more information from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which offers education, resources, and assistance regarding financial products and services.
What about Frivolous or Irrelevant Disputes?
You should know that the FCRA makes an exception if it is evident that your dispute is not worth reinvestigating. Data furnishers are not required to investigate frivolous or irrelevant disputes that they receive directly from you. A reasonable determination that a dispute is frivolous or irrelevant may be supported by:
- Your failure to provide sufficient information to investigate the disputed item.
- The data furnisher determines that you have previously submitted the same dispute either directly to the data furnisher or indirectly through a CRA; and the data furnisher has already fulfilled its duties with respect to your dispute.
What Do I Do When I File a Dispute with a Debt Collector or Creditor (Data Furnisher)?
The process is essentially the same as filing a dispute with a CRA. Identify and explain the specific item of information in dispute. Include all supporting documentation.
Once a debt is disputed with the data furnisher, the following occurs:
- The data furnisher conducts a reasonable investigation into your dispute.
- All information is reviewed.
- The data furnisher completes the investigation and responds to you within 30 days; 45 days if additional information was requested and provided.
If the investigation determines the disputed item of information is inaccurate, the data furnisher must correct the inaccuracy with each CRA to which the data furnisher has provided the inaccurate information.
What Do I Do When I File a Dispute with a CRA?
Your dispute must state that an item in your consumer report is inaccurate or incomplete. You cannot file a dispute if you simply failed to pay the debt because you were ill or unemployed.
Once the CRA has received your dispute in writing or via a phone call, within five business days the CRA must notify the data furnisher of the dispute and the debt must be marked as disputed on your consumer report. Once a debt is disputed with the CRA, the data furnisher must take the following steps:
- Conduct an investigation regarding the disputed item.
- Review all relevant supplementary documentation provided to the CRA by you.
- Report the outcome of the investigation to the CRA.
If the investigation reveals information that is inaccurate or incomplete, the data furnisher is required to inform all CRAs that compile and maintain consumer information on a nationwide basis of the result of the investigation.
If an item is determined to be inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable, the furnisher shall modify or delete the item in the consumer report or permanently block the reporting of that item.
What Do I Need to File My Dispute?
- The reason for your dispute
- Your consumer report file or confirmation number
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Company name of the disputed item
- Account number
- Reason for the dispute
- Any corrections to your personal information