Help - Collections after me for someone else's stuff

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by JasonS, Jan 6, 2004.

  1. JasonS

    JasonS Stunt Coordinator

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    I received an invoice in the mail a couple of weeks ago from a collections agency saying I owed $84. I had no idea what it was for, so I gave them a call. Turns out some phone sex place says I made a call in 97, and it has now been turned over. They were able to give the originating phone number, and I have never heard it. I sent a dispute letter, and just got another letter today. This one says I should be able to pay it, and they are going to submit it to their attornies. What the hell can I do about this? The call was supposedly made when I was an hour and a half away at school.
     
  2. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    It's been 6 years and only now they're saying something??

    I don't know what the "official" stance is but I'd just ignore it. Don't sex places require payment up front, via credit card or charged directly to your phone bill?

    In any case, they've got to prove somehow it was you and if they don't do that I don't see how they can make you pay.
     
  3. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Sounds like BS to me. Is this a real collection firm? Not some fly-by-night scam artist? Six years is an awfully long time for something like this...especially for such a small amount.

    Talk to a lawyer, if necessary, but I highly doubt they are going to attempt court-action for 84 bucks.

    HOWEVER... they CAN damage your credit rating, so I wouldn't suggest just ignoring it. Request proof of the transaction... if possible. Talk to a legal-advisor of some sort.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful...
     
  4. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    Call an attorney. I think any bill over five years old is not collectable. It will stay on the credit report though. I wonder if you could sue them in small claims court. Seems they would have to provide a higher level of proof that you contracted for the bill.
     
  5. Christoph

    Christoph Extra

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    It looks like this should be beyond the statute of limitations, depending on the state that it supposedly happened in. You may want to check the actual state laws to verify this.

    When you disputed the debt in writing, did they actually provide any documentation that the debt was yours, and that they were are entitled to collect it?

    Has this appeared on any of your credit reports?
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    They will have to prove that was your phone number. If you have never had it, then they don't have a case. I wouldn't bother contacting an attorney unless you plan to sue them for harassment.

    I keep all of my utility bills along with my tax records for 7 years. I'd easily be able to show them that it wasn't me that made the call.

    Glenn
     
  7. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    Unless a really BIG guy named Guido shows up at your door, I'd tell them to bite me. For $84, nobody in their right mind will pursue this past the threatening letter stage.

    Get out some nice paper; prepare a letter from YOUR shysters , I mean lawyers, the firm of Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe, using your PC and printer, and have some fun. Threaten to sue unless you get free phone sex for the rest of your life, unless of course, that's what got you in this mess in the first place.
     
  8. Todd Phillips

    Todd Phillips Second Unit

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    I had a collections guy call me about a credit card debt with my name on it, and I asked a lawyer about it. He told me to tell them that I wasn't the guy they were looking for, to stop calling me, and that if they wanted to press the matter they could do it in court. So I did.

    They never called back.

    (They get their successes through intimidation...not through litigation--too expensive.)
     
  9. James Landau

    James Landau Stunt Coordinator

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    Jason,

    You have notified them that the debt is not valid. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act they can make no further attempts to collect the debt until they can prove that the debt is, in fact, legitimate. In making another collection attempt, it is pretty obvious that they intend to ignore the law. I would tell them that you don't wish to hear from them again about this debt since it isn't yours and that if they continue to ignore the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act you will be contacting your state licensing board about having their license revoked. (All 50 states require that collection agencies be licensed in their state before they can collect debts from their residents.) It also wouldn't hurt to mention that if this invalid debt should ever appear on your credit report you will be suing them for damages.

    I once had a collection agency in Houston harassing me to pay for a magazine that I never subscribed to. (Never received any issues in the mail either.) I told them I had a copy of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in front of me, that I never wanted to hear from them again, and what would happen if they continued harassing me or their phony debt ever affected my credit in any way. Worked like a charm. Never heard from them again and it never showed up on my credit report. Todd is right. Collection agencies work through intimidation and when they discover you are too informed to be intimidated they usually move on to easier prey.

    Here's the relevant section of the act. Pay particular attention to subsection (b). They never mailed you proof that the disputed debt is yours, yet they continue to make collection demands. This is a clear violation of the law:

    § 809. Validation of debts [15 USC 1692g]

    (a) Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing --

    (1) the amount of the debt;

    (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;

    (3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;

    (4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and

    (5) a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

    (b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

    (c) The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.
     
  10. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Wow...great post James!

    JasonS, let us know how this works out!
     
  11. JasonS

    JasonS Stunt Coordinator

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    Guys, thanks for all your help. After mailing the dispute letter they sent me what was supposedly proof from the original company. It consisted of a peice of paper that had typed on it the date of the call(8/17/97), the time(12:00), and the length(13min.) of the call. I figured it had been made when asked for, and looked nothing like an invoice.

    At this point should I just mail them another letter stating that this was not my charge and they must stop harrassing me? Should I mention the statute of limitations for collections? In case you need to know, the original company was in Las Vegas, the collectors are in Ohio, and I am in Kansas.

    Thanks again.
     
  12. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    And they are after you for 80 bucks? Boy...work must be slow for them. Twits.
     
  13. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    If the bill is past the statute of limitations for your particular state, they have no legal authority to collect it. Whatever you do, don't pay on it! It would be cleaned off your credit report, but the record of it being there would not go away. If you pay on it, it updates the debt so that it doesn't fall under the Statute of Limitations any more.

    I suggest the creditnet.com forums for more info. Look up information on Validation (they have to provide significant proof that the debt is really yours). In most cases, you end up working through the Validation request, followed by a couple of cease-and-desist type letters, and then something the creditnet folks nicknamed the estoppel letter. A pain in the ass, but you want to make sure it is DELETED and not just RESOLVED (would affect your credit score). Be sure to get your hands on a credit report so that you can dispute the debt with each of the three credit agencies, and make sure when it has been DELETED from you credit report.

    I'm still working on getting something that suddenly appeared on my Credit reports in August supposedly from 1998. Equifax deleted it, still working on Transunion, then I will move on to Experian.

    Collection Agencies "buy" debt from places to collect, but they actually don't really have much in the way of legal authority to "buy" debt.
    As far as I understand, any debt that you supposedly owe really technically can only be collected or paid to the company that you originally contracted the debt with - collection agencies collect money only if you let them do so. The original company has a right to pursue legal action against you, but the collection agency doesn't really have that legal authority (although they don't want you to know that).
     
  14. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Look online until you find a cheesy site with a 'dialer' that attempts to get your pc to call one of those african toll numbers that cost $$$$ per minute.

    Call the collection agency and leave a message for them to call you at that number.
     
  15. MattBu

    MattBu Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey buddy, save that piece of paper. At least they are intimating that you lasted 13 minutes!!
     
  16. Dave_Brown

    Dave_Brown Supporting Actor

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    Collection by intimidation is always fun to deal with. I had a similiar situation many years ago while in the army.

    I got a letter in the mail saying I was involved in a hit and run accident and that I was being sued. It had my correct name but other than that everything was way off. The accident occured in a state that I had never even been to!
    However, being 18 and dumb I had no idea what was going to happen to me. I talked to my platoon sergeant and he said I should call the number and get the whole story.
    So I did. I told them my name and that I had gotten a letter about an accident in a state I had never even been in. Luckily, the lady that answered was pretty cool and her response at the time was pretty funny but looking back it seems pretty shady. Basicially, she told me someone with my same name in the army had been in this accident but they didn't know where he was. So, they sent that letter to everyone they could find with that name and via method of elimination hoped to figure out who it was. Her response: "And since you called us back for more information, obviously you are NOT the guy we are looking for so we'll go ahead and take you off the list" and I never heard from them again.
     
  17. Lee L

    Lee L Supporting Actor

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    I have had a collector call me twice recently to try to get me to talk to my neighbor (some renters across the street) to get them to call them back. Harrassing the debtor is one thing, now these guys are harrassing me. I called the AG's office and they said the prcatice is perfectly legal.
     
  18. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    I once had a collection agency call and harrass me repeatedly about a guy that supposedly used to live at the same address. They even accused me of protecting the guy (who I had never heard of) and threatened to charge me with being an accessory or some BS like that.

    Oh, and the guy owed them $21!
     
  19. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Oh that's a rich one Steve. An accessory to what...not answering the phone? [​IMG]
     
  20. JasonS

    JasonS Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is a copy of what the most recent letter stated. It was dated 12/29.

    Your credit report has been reviewed by our legal department. It appears you have the assets sufficient to pay the balance due. A decision will be made within ten (10) business days as to possible legal action on your account.

    Arrangements must be made immediately to avoid possible litigation. If legal action is instituted, your account could incur court costs, pre-judgement interest and attorney's fees. I am sure that you recognize the benefits of not having a final judgement on your official records for a minimum of seven (7) years.

    The collection company is called CRB out of Sylvania, OH. Any way to see if they are a legit collections company?

    I'll be writing a return letter today.
     

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