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Validation or Dispute with FCO?

TTLongNeck
New Member

Validation or Dispute with FCO?

I moved out of an apartment in July 2020. It was during the pandemic and the leasing office was still somewhat unorganized. I never received a statement of any charges upon my move out.

 
Fast forward to November 2020 I get a collection call that I have 2 accounts with FCO (Fair Collections & Outsourcing) totaling $1022. One with Sure Deposit as the original creditor for $750 and another for $272 from the actual complex. The collector could not give me any details about these debts, just that I need to pay immediately. I’ll add that the collector was violently rude to the point of screaming at me when I asked for more information and to speak with someone else.
 
Assuming the debts were for damages to the apartment I immediately called the apartment complex to get more information. No answer or call back. I email and CC every agent and management several times over the next few months, no response. Ultimately both accounts reported to all 3 bureaus in May 2021.
 
I finally got someone at the apartment complex to respond in June after going way up the chain. They blamed the miss on COVID are unwilling to advocate for me with FCO. 
 
I really want to get these taken care of bc they’re tanking my score and I’ll be buying my first home soon. My questions:
 
  1.  What recourse, if any, do I have with the collection agency? They are unwilling to accept a PFD. 
  2. If I go the dispute route is the collection agency required to validate exactly what I owe or just the amount and original creditor?
  3. Is it worth disputing with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian directly? 
  4. If my only option is to pay the collection agency, what’s the impact of settling vs paying in full, considering I want to buy a home in 6-7 months? 
Message 1 of 11
10 REPLIES 10
FireMedic1
Super Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?


@TTLongNeck wrote:

I moved out of an apartment in July 2020. It was during the pandemic and the leasing office was still somewhat unorganized. I never received a statement of any charges upon my move out.

 
Fast forward to November 2020 I get a collection call that I have 2 accounts with FCO (Fair Collections & Outsourcing) totaling $1022. One with Sure Deposit as the original creditor for $750 and another for $272 from the actual complex. The collector could not give me any details about these debts, just that I need to pay immediately. I’ll add that the collector was violently rude to the point of screaming at me when I asked for more information and to speak with someone else.
 
Assuming the debts were for damages to the apartment I immediately called the apartment complex to get more information. No answer or call back. I email and CC every agent and management several times over the next few months, no response. Ultimately both accounts reported to all 3 bureaus in May 2021.
 
I finally got someone at the apartment complex to respond in June after going way up the chain. They blamed the miss on COVID are unwilling to advocate for me with FCO. 
 
I really want to get these taken care of bc they’re tanking my score and I’ll be buying my first home soon. My questions:
 
  1.  What recourse, if any, do I have with the collection agency? They are unwilling to accept a PFD. Just go ahead and pay it.
  2. If I go the dispute route is the collection agency required to validate exactly what I owe or just the amount and original creditor? Probably wont do much but come back verified.
  3. Is it worth disputing with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian directly? No
  4. If my only option is to pay the collection agency, what’s the impact of settling vs paying in full, considering I want to buy a home in 6-7 months? 

Lenders want all past debts paid. No outstanding past debts. Take a drive past the old complex and speak to the leasing agent and see if they will take payment and have them recall the debt from the CA.






Homeowner since Sept 2020. My posts are JMHO. My siggy is not to brag. Just sharing my experiences after BK from learning here from rebuild to recovery from the @ 540's.
Message 2 of 11
TTLongNeck
New Member

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

My concern is I STILL don't know what I'm paying for. Is it damage? Rental fees? As far as I know all of that was squared away when I moved out. I can't get any info except the debt is owed. I don't want to pay and wait 7 years for something I don't actually owe.

Message 3 of 11
simplegirl
Valued Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

I've gotten a collection from an apartment complex claiming i owed over 3 grand and sent me a paper breaking down what i supposely owed. I'm not sure why you didn't recieve anything to your fowarding address. They must have shiesty practices but if anything i would try to get validation on the debt with a breakdown of what you owe from the apartment complex themselves. And record them so there is no problems since they seemed to avoid other forms of communication.








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Message 4 of 11
jrwa81
New Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

Send both the collection agency and the apartment complex debt validation letters and send them via certfied mail with signature required.  Demand that they immediately cease any and all collection activity and credit reporting (if they are reporting) until the debt has been validated by you.  Tell them that within 30 days of their receipt of your letter, you expect a detailed breakdown as to exactly what they are claiming you owe for and that you will not pay them a single dime until they provide this.  Threaten to report them to the attorney general in your state if they fail to comply.  Good luck!

Message 5 of 11
FireMedic1
Super Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

Heres a big clue. Did you get your deposit back? Thats probably damages. But you want to know is it from normal wear and tear or just for them to list a bunch of junk to keep your $. Hopefully you took pictures or a video once you walked out.






Homeowner since Sept 2020. My posts are JMHO. My siggy is not to brag. Just sharing my experiences after BK from learning here from rebuild to recovery from the @ 540's.
Message 6 of 11
vntrsc
Frequent Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?


@jrwa81 wrote:

Send both the collection agency and the apartment complex debt validation letters and send them via certfied mail with signature required.  Demand that they immediately cease any and all collection activity and credit reporting (if they are reporting) until the debt has been validated by you.  Tell them that within 30 days of their receipt of your letter, you expect a detailed breakdown as to exactly what they are claiming you owe for and that you will not pay them a single dime until they provide this.  Threaten to report them to the attorney general in your state if they fail to comply.  Good luck!


The right to demand validation is triggered only after receiving an initial debt collection communication from a debt collector.  It must then be sent within 30 days of receiving the communication.  The collection agency can take as long as it wants to send validation but cannot continue collection efforts until it sends that validation.   

 

The OP stated he received calls in 2020.  It is well past 30 days since he received phone calls.  In addition, courts that have ruled on the issue have ruled that credit reporting is not considered an initial communication that triggers a consumer's right to demand validation.  While the OP can still send a validation request, the debt collector is under no obligation to validate or cease reporting.  

Message 7 of 11
bass_playr
Frequent Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

Some info in here needs to be clarified.

 

RECORDING....yes, you can record phone calls....in most states, it is legal to record calls without telling the other party.  But not in all.  If you are in an "all party" state, the laws there require that you inform all parties on a call that it is being recorded.  If you do not do this, and you don't get their consent prior to the recording of the call, you can be arrested and charged with a crime in some states.  It's not good advice to simply say "record the calls".  You must check first with your state's laws to make sure you don't violate them.

 

VALIDATION...validation serves only one purpose.  It also has nothing to do with the original creditor, so sending the apartment complex a certified letter asking for validation is pointless.  They are not required by any law anywhere to do this.  FDCPA requires validation only under the right circumstances, and ONLY on the third party debt collector.  vntrsc is correct that validation is only required if you request it within 30 days of initial contact.  Anything after 30 days and they can tell you to go pound sand.  

 

I would send a certified letter to the property management firm--or the apartment complex itself if that's who handles this--and request a breakdown of the charges they claim you owe.  Explain to them that regardless of covid, they are required to substantiate whatever claims they make.  While this kind of issue may not be covered by any debt collection law, it most likely will be covered by an unfair trade practices law.  They cannot just claim you owe them money and then have a third party abuse you over the phone because you asked what the money was owed for.  

 

Also, depending on your state's telephone recording laws, I WOULD absolutely recommend calling that debt collector back and if permitted record that call.  Let them abuse you on tape, and then go straight to a consumer attorney and pursue the FDCPA claim.  They are NOT permitted to harass, abuse, or annoy you in the process of collecting a debt.  One more thing--if you try these methods and they still refuse to provide you with any details about why you supposedly owe them this money, a call to a consumer attorney might help there as well.  Many consumer attorneys will write a letter on your behalf, on their letterhead, and send it to that apartment complex.  A lot of small time debt collectors or businesses will back down when they see you have retained an attorney in the matter.  At the very least, even if they don't back down, they might actually provide a breakdown to the attorney that they seem unwilling to provide to you.

Message 8 of 11
OmarGB9
Community Leader
Super Contributor

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?


@bass_playr wrote:

Some info in here needs to be clarified.

 

RECORDING....yes, you can record phone calls....in most states, it is legal to record calls without telling the other party.  But not in all.  If you are in an "all party" state, the laws there require that you inform all parties on a call that it is being recorded.  If you do not do this, and you don't get their consent prior to the recording of the call, you can be arrested and charged with a crime in some states.  It's not good advice to simply say "record the calls".  You must check first with your state's laws to make sure you don't violate them.

 

VALIDATION...validation serves only one purpose.  It also has nothing to do with the original creditor, so sending the apartment complex a certified letter asking for validation is pointless.  They are not required by any law anywhere to do this.  FDCPA requires validation only under the right circumstances, and ONLY on the third party debt collector.  vntrsc is correct that validation is only required if you request it within 30 days of initial contact.  Anything after 30 days and they can tell you to go pound sand.  

 

I would send a certified letter to the property management firm--or the apartment complex itself if that's who handles this--and request a breakdown of the charges they claim you owe.  Explain to them that regardless of covid, they are required to substantiate whatever claims they make.  While this kind of issue may not be covered by any debt collection law, it most likely will be covered by an unfair trade practices law.  They cannot just claim you owe them money and then have a third party abuse you over the phone because you asked what the money was owed for.  

 

Also, depending on your state's telephone recording laws, I WOULD absolutely recommend calling that debt collector back and if permitted record that call.  Let them abuse you on tape, and then go straight to a consumer attorney and pursue the FDCPA claim.  They are NOT permitted to harass, abuse, or annoy you in the process of collecting a debt.  One more thing--if you try these methods and they still refuse to provide you with any details about why you supposedly owe them this money, a call to a consumer attorney might help there as well.  Many consumer attorneys will write a letter on your behalf, on their letterhead, and send it to that apartment complex.  A lot of small time debt collectors or businesses will back down when they see you have retained an attorney in the matter.  At the very least, even if they don't back down, they might actually provide a breakdown to the attorney that they seem unwilling to provide to you.


Excellent advice.


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Message 9 of 11
TTLongNeck
New Member

Re: Validation or Dispute with FCO?

It was a non-refundable deposit. That's what sure deposit is. I do have photos and recordings of the unit and there is no damage. That is why I'd like to know what I'm being billed for and I can't get that information anywhere 

Message 10 of 11
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