Are you are an authorized user or a joint cardholder?

What is an authorized user (“AU”)?

An authorized user (“AU”) is someone the owner of a credit card account authorized to make charges to the owners' credit card account. The AU’s are usually a spouse, child or other dependents. The account owner is responsible for all account activity generated by any and all authorized users.

If the AU is not responsible for payment of the debt why does it show up on the AU’s credit report?

The short answer is because they can.  The negative information will likely affect the AU’s credit.  What can the AU do? Dispute liability; file a 100-word statement with each bureau that reports the amount of the debt on the AU’s credit report.

What is a joint owner (“JO”)?

A joint owner (“JO”) signed the cardholder agreement as a responsible party and is responsible for the payment of the debt.  The creditor can sue the JO in court. If the JO loses in court, a judgment could be ordered that could be used to garnish the JO’s wages and levy the JO’s bank accounts. 

How can the AU dispute liability?  

Send a written request to the company for a copy of the cardholder agreement the AU signed as a responsible party, request the current amount of the debt and a description of the AU’s legal rights regarding the dispute of the debt. Get the correct mailing address for the AU’s debt validation request. Many credit card companies have numerous addresses. There is no guarantee that your request will be received by the proper department if you send it to the wrong address. Usually, the address creditor’s use on the AU’s credit report is an appropriate address for a debt validation request. Another place to look for valid contact information is on the most recent credit statement. The Better Business Bureau or its website may have contact information on your creditor.

The creditor has 5 days to acknowledge receipt of your written request and thirty days to provide a response.  The response you receive must contain the amount you owe, the creditor you owe it to and a statement that the debt will be considered valid unless you dispute it within 30 days.

Once you request verification of the debt, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents the credit card company from continuing collection actions until you receive the verification. If you receive a call from them before you receive the verification, remind them of your rights under the FDCPA and politely request they not contact you at least until they can verify your liability.  

Here is a sample request:

VIA U.S. CERTIFIED MAIL #

Date

The Creditors Name 

And Address

Re: Your name

Your Acct # 

Creditor’s Name

To Whom It May Concern,

 This letter is in response to a notice I received from you on (Date you received the notice). Be advised, this is not a refusal to pay, but a notice sent pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b) that your claim is disputed and validation is requested.

This is NOT a request for "verification" or proof of my mailing address, but a request for VALIDATION made pursuant to the above-named Title and Section. Our office respectfully requests that your office provide competent evidence of my legal obligation to pay you.

Please provide our office with the following:

  • Provide copies of any papers that show an agreement to pay your claim;
  • What the money you claim owed is for;
  • Explain and show how you calculated your claim amount;
  • Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable;
  • Identify the original creditor – unless the letter is to the original creditor;
  • Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account;
  • Show you are licensed to collect in California; and
  • Provide your license numbers and Registered Agent.

If your offices have reported invalidated information to the Credit Bureau(s) (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) these reports might constitute fraud under both Federal and State Laws. If any negative mark is found on any of my credit reports by your company or the company that you represent, I will not hesitate in bringing legal action against you for the following:

  • Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  • Defamation of Character

If your offices are able to provide the proper documentation as requested, I require at least 30 days investigating this information and during such time all collection activity must cease and desist. Also during this validation period, other actions are taken which, including providing any inaccurate or invalid information to a credit reporting repository without proof, could be considered detrimental. 

If your offices fail to respond to this validation request within 30 days from the date of your receipt, all references to this account must be deleted and completely removed from my credit file and a copy of such a deletion request sent to me.

This is also a request, in writing, that no telephone contact is made by your offices to my home or place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer-generated calls or correspondence sent to any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications MUST be done in writing and sent to me.

Thank you for your efforts in this very trying matter.  

Sincerely,

Your name