Under the FDBPA, if the debtor makes a written request to the debt buyer "for information regarding the debt or proof of the debt" then the debt buyer must provide the debtor, within 15 calendar days and without charge, all of the information or documents required by sections 1788.52(a) and (b) of the Act. See, California Civil Code § 1788.52(c). If the debt buyer cannot provide the documents or information within 15 calendar days, then it must cease further collection efforts until it does provide the documents and information.
New Notice Provisions To Consumers
If the debt buyer decides to write to the debtor, then the first letter to the debtor must include "a separate prominent notice" in no smaller than 12-point type that states: "You may request records showing the following: (1) that [insert name of debt buyer] has the right to seek collection of the debt; (2) the debt balance, including an explanation of any interest charges and additional fees; (3) the date of default or the date of the last payment; (4) the name of the charge-off creditor and the account number associated with the debt; (5) the name and last known address of the debtor as it appeared in the charge-off creditor's or debt buyer's records prior to the sale of the debt, as appropriate; and (6) the names of all persons or entities that have purchased the debt. You may also request from us a copy of the contract or other document evidencing your agreement to the debt. A request for these records may be addressed to: [insert debt buyer's active mailing address and email address, if applicable]." See, California Civil Code § 1788.52(d)(1).
In addition, if the debt buyer is writing to the consumer about a "time-barred debt" where the obsolescence period of the Fair Credit Reporting Act has not yet expired, the debt buyer must also include the following notice (in no less than 12-point font): " The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it. If you do not pay the debt, [insert name of debt buyer] may [continue to] report it to the credit reporting agencies as unpaid for as long as the law permits this reporting." Id. at §1788.52(d)(2).
The term "time-barred debt" is not defined by the Act, but it is safe to assume that the term refers to a debt where the applicable statute of limitations for suit has expired. Discuss your situation with an experienced collection attorney.
If the debt buyer is writing to a consumer about a time-barred debt and the obsolescence period of the Fair Credit Reporting Act has also run, the debt buyer must also include the following notice: "The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it, and we will not report it to any credit reporting agency." See, California Civil Code § 1788.52(d)(3). This is an important change to the law as previously, the burden was on the debtor to assert the statute of limitations as a defense.
For more information on how the FDBPA affects your collection issue, contact experienced collections attorney Ronald P. Slates today.