Author Topic: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?  (Read 339 times)

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CrosbyStillsandBieber

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Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« on: April 06, 2015 02:00:25 AM »
Interesting skip trace question - do CAs have a responsibility to maintain an extra level of non-disclosure, when verifying the employment of someone not confirmed to be the debtor in question?

My office received a call to ‘verify employment’ for (my name, different SS#) from a CA.  They said they would not send the verification request in writing, but would receive the verification via phone or email.  They gave their email address, telephone number and corporate name.  Due to my position in the company, I was the individual to whom this information was given to ‘verify employment’. 

I do not have an account with this CA or any OC for whom they collect.

The name provide by the CA was mine, however since the SS# was different (they just gave the last four digits), it appears to be a case of skip tracing under the guise of employment verification.  My question is this:  is there a duty to care when skip tracing under the guise of employment verification? After all, the ‘social stigma’ of debt is the basis of FDCPA third-party disclosure restrictions. 

This occurred in Washington State, April 23, 2014.  The CA is not a JDB, but a large CA located in NY (whom I would label as ‘conservative’) that has a relationship with the Government in collecting on student loans.







Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015 04:34:28 PM »
Collection agencies have no right to verify a debtor's employment in my opinion unless they are enforcing a judgment. For third party disclosure, they would have to discuss the debt. 
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

Clydesmom66

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015 04:50:36 PM »
Collection agencies have no right to verify a debtor's employment in my opinion unless they are enforcing a judgment. For third party disclosure, they would have to discuss the debt.

For 99% of debt yes but in this case NO.  The key sentence in the entire post is this one:

The CA is not a JDB, but a large CA located in NY (whom I would label as ‘conservative’) that has a relationship with the Government in collecting on student loans.

When it comes to federally backed student loans the government does not have to sue to enforce payment.  They can go straight to wage garnishment and bank levy without going to court.  Therefore ANY skip tracing done by the CAs contracted to collect on federal student loans is going to give them the right to verify employment and enforce payment.
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2015 05:00:12 PM »
I agree, but OP did not specifically say what kind of debt this is or who the CA is. If the SS number is wrong, it may not even be his account. He needs to clarify this.
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Clydesmom66

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2015 05:13:49 PM »
I agree, but OP did not specifically say what kind of debt this is or who the CA is. If the SS number is wrong, it may not even be his account. He needs to clarify this.

The CAs that collect on federal loans generally only work those accounts.  There are far too many of them delinquent to take on other kinds of debt as well.  The OP isn't asserting that the debt is his.  It could be as simple as a common name such as Tom Smith and the deal breaker is that the social security #s don't match.

I think the question is when verifying employment does a CA have a duty OF care (we know they don't care) in the skip tracing process.  My answer is to a certain point, no.  They can call and verify that this is the employer of Tom Smith, social security #xxx-xx-xxxx.  While those on debtor boards and others like it ASSUME it is for a debt purpose, the person at the employer who takes the call cannot.  It could be a bank verifying employer to approve a loan.  The rental office for a lease etc. 

It isn't an automatic violation to try and locate someone and verify that they have found the correct person.  This CA apparently did not reveal anything about a debt in their contact with the employer.  The OP did their own detective work and put the puzzle together.  That isn't third party disclosure by the CA at all.
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2015 06:20:17 PM »
This is interesting, this is what can happen when they sue the wrong person after skip tracing them.

The case stretches back to December 2006 when Target National Bank assigned the past due credit card account of Yazzie to Farrell & Sandlin. When Yazzie was initially contacted, she insisted that she had never had a Target credit card and that there was another person in her area with the same name. Yazzie said that she frequently got calls from other creditors attempting to find the other person.

But the law firm filed a suit in April 2007 anyway and got a garnishment order. When they presented the order to Yazzie’s employer, the business insisted that they had the wrong person. The garnishment writ was then dropped.

The process played out again two years later when Farrell & Sandlin won another garnishment order for the same account. This time, Yazzie’s employer not only formally denied the request, but followed up with phone calls, leading to a hearing where both Yazzies were due to show up as well as the collection law firm, which did not appear. The second garnishment order stayed in force until Yazzie filed her own suit against the law firm in March 2010, claiming violations of the FDCPA and other consumer statutes.

During the legal process, it was discovered that Target Bank had indeed supplied Farrell & Sandlin with the correct name, address and Social Security number of the true debtor, not the Lucinda Yazzie named in their garnishment actions. But a former employee of the law firm shortly after receiving the account changed the SSN in the company’s system to that of the Yazzie named in the suit. The firm claimed that this went against company policy and entered a bona fide error defense, which was rejected.

The jury awarded Yazzie $161,000 in actual damages for emotional distress and $1.1 million in punitive damages. Although Target’s attempts to be dismissed from the lawsuit were unsuccessful, the judge noted that the company did not err in the assignment of the account. It is not known what Target’s liability is in the case.
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

Flyingifr

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2015 06:55:18 PM »
Interesting skip trace question - do CAs have a responsibility to maintain an extra level of non-disclosure, when verifying the employment of someone not confirmed to be the debtor in question?

My office received a call to ‘verify employment’ for (my name, different SS#) from a CA.  They said they would not send the verification request in writing, but would receive the verification via phone or email.  They gave their email address, telephone number and corporate name.  Due to my position in the company, I was the individual to whom this information was given to ‘verify employment’. 

You are right in assuming it is a CA or JDB doing some skip tracing. Almost all employers require such requests tom be in writing, with the "employee" having given written consent. Had I been you I would have responded to their comment that they will not request the verification in writing and their suggestion that they record the verification with "then I will neither confirm or deny anything regarding your subject."

Quote
I do not have an account with this CA or any OC for whom they collect.

Skip tracing is a very inexact science. Accordingly is it easy for them to find the wrong target. That has never been much of an impediment though - after one "Crosby" is as good as another.

Quote
The name provide by the CA was mine, however since the SS# was different (they just gave the last four digits), it appears to be a case of skip tracing under the guise of employment verification.  My question is this:  is there a duty to care when skip tracing under the guise of employment verification? After all, the ‘social stigma’ of debt is the basis of FDCPA third-party disclosure restrictions. 

There is no requirement that they actually verify who their target is, although the "employment verification" ruse may have been an attempt. Not only are CA's and JDB's sloppy and reckless in their pursuit of their target, Government is just as sloppy and reckless. I remember some years ago when I was in NY a client of mine brought a NY Tax Levy against his mother in to me for NY Sales Tax. The only problem with it was his mother had been in a nursing home for the previous 15 years and could not possibly have run a business responsible for NY Sales Tax. Let's call her "Jane Doe". When I contacted NY Sales Tax Collections about it I was told they sent this levy against every "Jane Doe" they could find, figuring one of them would be the correct one.
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Clydesmom66

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2015 07:24:01 PM »
During the legal process, it was discovered that Target Bank had indeed supplied Farrell & Sandlin with the correct name, address and Social Security number of the true debtor, not the Lucinda Yazzie named in their garnishment actions. But a former employee of the law firm shortly after receiving the account changed the SSN in the company’s system to that of the Yazzie named in the suit. The firm claimed that this went against company policy and entered a bona fide error defense, which was rejected.

This is ENTIRELY different.  In this case the creditor CLEARLY gave the law firm the actual factual identity information for the consumer who defaulted.  An employee of the firm NEGLIGENTLY and arbitrarily changed the most important identifier (the SS#) to another consumer's.  This didn't involve skip tracing at all but one moronic person who made a very stupid decision that ultimately cost the law firm and the creditor. 

This in NO WAY addresses a CA's duty in skip tracing. 
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2015 07:49:16 PM »
How do we know it was skip traced? Even the OP doesn't know that yet. It could be the exact same scenario as in the case I posted. We are speculating until we get more facts. Anything is possible with a collection agency.
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

CrosbyStillsandBieber

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2015 03:08:08 AM »
I do not have a student loan or any debt which would be in collection.  I do have a rather uncommon name (at least in the US) and have an internet presence in relation to my business, so that is easily found.  There is another person with the same first and last name in my area who is on the CA radar (I used to receive a lot of CA calls meant for that person when I still had a land-line). 

I also used to work for a CA (please don't hate).  This was long ago (before the internet and every number was dialed by hand), so I was wondering that, given that many companies screen calls by using Google (or similar) to ID the company, if that created an additional level of responsibility on the part of the CA.

I would not imagine attempting to argue this to a judge as third-party disclosure as per the FDCPA, but I did think it posed an interesting question. 

fisthardcheese

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2015 10:37:50 AM »
I think the problem we have here is that they have the SS number of a different person, therefore the OP has no standing to sue even if it was an FDCPA violation.  The person who was violated was the person with the same name as OP but with the other SS number.

Unless this call was to a cell phone and OP can use the TCPA to go after them, I am not sure anything can be done here yet.
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2 FCRA Settlements (1 after suit filed, using consumer attorney, 1 after ITS sent by consumer attorney)

Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2015 01:12:04 PM »
There is some case law around that lets you sue under one of these laws, I believe the FDCPA, as it says "any person," even if you are not the debtor.
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fisthardcheese

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2015 02:31:09 PM »
There is some case law around that lets you sue under one of these laws, I believe the FDCPA, as it says "any person," even if you are not the debtor.

I would agree with this if we were talking harassment or abusive language or something like that, but in this case the violation is 3rd party disclosure.  Wouldn't it be tough for OP to claim 3rd party disclosure when they are the 3rd party?
3 Arb Settlements (in AAA, pre-arb hearing)
3 JDB Suits Dismissed With Prejudice in small claims (2 using counter claims, pro-se, 1 using consumer attorney)
2 TCPA Settlements (1 using ITS with Draft Complaint pro-se; 1 using consumer attorney)
2 FCRA Settlements (1 after suit filed, using consumer attorney, 1 after ITS sent by consumer attorney)

Brunothe JDBKiller

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2015 03:08:19 PM »
I'll see if I can find it. I don't see any 3rd party disclosure here, they did not discuss a debt. Although I can't see any other reason for a collection agency to want to verify somebody's employment.
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

arnanda

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Re: Skip Tracing - Duty To Care?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2015 03:34:57 AM »
If it's student loans, then they are probably trying to find the consumer's employer.  If they do, they can start garnishment.  As you said, since there is someone with the same name as yours, you keep coming up since you have an online presence. 
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