For several years I have enjoyed excellent credit scores; and, a regular review of my credit reports has assured me that I have fortunately dodged the bullet of the unscrupulous identity thieves. Then, out of no where, I get a greetings letter from Arrow Financial Services letting me know that they are generously offering me latitude to resolve my Past Due Balance formerly held by MELLON/PNC BANK.
However gracious and kind their offer to me may have been written, the offer lacks one important element, a validated debt I am responsible for. I have never done business with, or had an account with Mellon and/or PNC Bank.
Albeit their letter offers the minimum required to remind me of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. What is important, however, and what I am really hoping to share with others is a suggestion of steps to ensure Arrow Financial Services, LLC, or any other debt leads purchaser, that you are fully aware of your rights under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. To that end, here are some of the points my responsive letter included:
1) Immediately draft a letter disputing the debt and be sure to include a demand that the collection agency clearly state the full amount of the debt, the date the debt was incurred, the date of last activity on the account that has the debt, the name of the original creditor, a copy of any judgment if there is one regarding the debt and finally proof that the agency is lawfully authorized to collect in your state of residence.
2) Remind the collection agency that they have an obligation to report the dispute to the original debtor as well as the credit reporting agencies.
3) Let the collection agency know that you are sending your dispute letter by certified mail and standard mail because you want to ensure you are protecting yourself and your rights from predatory debt collection and errant credit reporting activities
4) Let the collection agency know that you will be keeping documented records of any contact attempts whether written or by telephone and will use those records to protect and defend yourself as well as to use the documentation, if necessary, to file complaints with your state's AG office, the FTC and your regional and the national BBB.
5) Finally, remind the collection agency that Statutes of Limitations would prevent litigation in many instances of indebtedness where the date of last activity exceeds, (in most states) a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 10 years. (While not necessarily alleging this against Arrow, there are some unscrupulous agencies who will buy debt leads that are beyond the SOL and just try to get what they can through threatening tactics.)
In the instance of my circumstances, frankly, I believe Arrow's skip tracing efforts were not successful and so the letter I received was no more than a hit-and-miss of all persons sharing the same first name, middle initial and last name as I. To that end, I think it very important that the letter I drafted acknowledged that along with reminding Arrow of my rights and the lengths I am going to protect my rights.
Collection letter out of no where? Its not right and it seems like the company should be more responsible about flinging allegations of indebtedness.