After pulling my credit bureau I found a listing from Navigator Telecommunication in Arkansas. Not remember having service with this company I sent a validation request. The account is apparently from January - March 2005 for home telephone service. From the validation they sent me copies of the bills from this account. Just the bills, nothing else. I sent a second letter demanding all proofs of payment or proofs I applied for this account. In return she sent me screenies from their computers with my information, including social, and a letter saying that if I lived at this address (I did) then the accounts are valid and I need to pay the bills. This, to me, still doesn't prove it's my account and I still don't recall this service even though I did live at the address they have listed. Their letter also claims there was never any payment. I do not know what to do. I can't afford an attorney but should I contact legal aid. Do I have a case or what should I do? I have attached what she sent, except the bills, with my personal info and account numbers removed.
Another question I have it: in collections/debt is it like criminal court where you are innocent until proven guilty? In criminal court, I know you don't have to prove yourself innocent. If they can't prove you guilty, it's their problem and you go free. Is it like that with collections and debt as well? With my problem, since they can't prove the debt do I really have to go about proving it isn't mine or since they can't prove it's mine is it a wash on their part?
Is this an OC account? If so, you cant request DV from an OC.
Under what basis did you request validation?
Validation is not done under the same rules as a criminal proceeding. There is no "preumption of innocent," or requirement that they must first present legal proof duing the aministrative dispute or validation processes. You allege an error, and they provide resonable administrative consideration therof.
What you are referring to as the need to legally "prove" a debt is why you have the right to bring civil action against them. Once you bring civil action, then you can rely on the legal discovery process to compel relevant information.
From what you have presented so far, their prior responses would not, in my opinion, in and of themselves be any vioation of either dispute resolution or validatation. If you go to court, the validity of the debt itself will be the issue, and you can then require "proof."
There are a couple of things going on here. First off, if you sent a DV to an OC, they have no legal responsibility to respond at all. Even if they were a CA, and assuming your DV went out within 30 days of their notice, they went above and beyond what the FDCPA requires a CA to send. The only thing a CA has to provide is the OC info and the balance owed. Sounds like they are steadfast in saying you owed this if they are sending screen shots and bills.
If I was 100% certain I never had an account with this company, and knew beyond any doubt that it wasn't mine, then I'd come to the conclusion that it's a case of ID theft. I'd call the police and file a police report and use that report in getting it removed and dealing with them.
After I filed a police report and used it to dispute, then I'd also send a copy of the police report to the OC and maybe they'll walk away from it all. If not, then I'd take them to small claims and duke it out to get this resolved once and for all. You don't need an attorney for that. If you need help with any procedural issue, you can always hire a paralegal or an attorney for an hour or so.
In court, if you go after them, you have the burden of proof to show that the debt isn't yours. That can be easy. If you had phone service during that time with a different company, then you can show bills and so forth showing that you didn't have service with them. Another source of info are your bank statements from that time. Their letter says that you had the one and only check get returned. If you show the court your statements, and there's no bounced check to them, then that'll aid you. Finally, there are first name initials and a last name as well as an e-mail in the screen shot. I'd do some research to see if those persons live or lived near you at the time. Many ID theft issues happen via friends or family.
If they ever went after you, and maybe SOL expired by now, they'd have to prove that you owned the debt. It would be very easy to prove who wrote the check that was returned and they'd have to demonstrate that it was your account. On your end, it would be easy to prove that it wasn't your check. If not yours, you have a good case. BTW, my legal advice is marginal at best. What do I know. Certainly consult with a legal pro.
ETA...Robert is a faster typer than me.
Thank you to both of you. Since this is way over anything I've dealt with since trying to rebuild my credit, I have taken up a free consultation from an attorney just to see what they say up front to do. It is rather confusing since I lived at the address the service was provided but didn't have phone service there with any company. The reason I got information from the OC and not the CA is when I pulled my True Credit 3-in-1, it didn't list a CA. I still think it's kinda crazy they couldn't provide me with a real proof of payment. The "returned check" they sent is just a screen print of their payment screen. Once I get my consult from the attorney I'll let you guys know what happened.