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When a consumer tells a collector that he or she is not responsible for a debt, the collector usually has a process that seeks to get to the bottom of whether the consumer is telling the truth. But how far is too far? A complaint has been filed against a collector, accusing it of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Regulation F because the emails it sent did not contain an opt-out notice and because the documentation it asked for was too “onerous” and an attempt to “dissuade” the consumer from defending herself.
A copy of the complaint in the case of Paulk v. Columbia Debt Recovery can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received email messages from the defendant seeking to recover $7,718.52 on behalf of the original creditor. The plaintiff disputed the debt, claiming never to have resided in the property nor never leasing it for herself or anyone else. The defendant allegedly asked for the following information to investigate the claim:
- a utility statement for the address at which she claims to have resided during the period of the fraudulent lease;
- a copy of a lease, property tax statement, or mortgage for the address at which she claimed to have resided during the time of the fraudulent lease;
- a copy of the front and back of the Plaintiff’s driver’s license;
- two samples of her signature, including the license referenced above, and one on a notarized complaint;
- a filed police report; and
- a copy of a complaint that presumably the Plaintiff must file via the Federal Trade Commission, which was to be notarized.
All the defendant needed to do, according to the plaintiff, was access her credit file and review her address records as “accumulated by any of the major credit reporting bureaus,” according to the complaint. By asking for so much information, the defendant was attempting to “dissuade the Plaintiff, and others like her, from defending themselves from unlawful and improper claims.”
The complaint accuses the defendant of sending emails that did not have any opt-out instructions, but none of the emails were included as exhibits attached to the complaint. The defendant is accused of violating Section 1692e, 1692e(10), and 1692f by requesting “the production of extremely personal and onerous documentation.” The defendant is also accused of violating Section 1006.6(e) of Regulation F.