Help with debt collectors or contract law

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jack Spencer, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. Jack Spencer

    Jack Spencer Agent

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    I bought something on eBay and paid with Bidpay. To make a long story short the seller is committing online fraud and ripping off dozens of people for thousands of dollars. I'm only out $135, others are out $500 or more. I told Bidpay weeks ago that this guy was committing online fraud and they didn't do a thing. Didn't even respond to my email and they're still letting him collect money from more victims. So I initiated a chargeback with my credit card and now they're threatening to send me to collections.

    Any advice? I've never delt with debt collectors before. Bidpay claims by using their service I'm bound to their contract. Is this the case? I never signed anything, is this legally binding? And the only info they have on me is name, email, address and credit card #. Without my social security number can they or their collectors screw up my perfect 750+ credit score? Can they sue me and drag me through court without a legal signature on a contract?

    I want to tell them to shove it and not pay because I refused to be bullied by them. I'm even willing to appear in court and fight them but I'm afraid I'll end up being ordered to pay them a grand or something after they tack on all their fees and such.
     
  2. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Bidpay performed the service they advertised, right? You give them money, they send out a money order on your behalf.
     
  3. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I can't help you on the legal aspects, but I would suggest you file a fraud report with ebay and take them up on their safeharbor program. I would also contact the police/FBI and file criminal charges if possible. If this was done by mail it is a federal crime.

    As for Bidpay, Shaun is correct.
     
  4. Jack Spencer

    Jack Spencer Agent

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    I've done all of the safeharbor stuff. But Bidpay should be going after the recepient of the money orders, not the sender. Especially in a situation like this, I have half a dozen people backing me up that this guy is a con artist. It would be just as easy to sick the collectors on him.
     
  5. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Jack, you are wrong. You are asking a third party to suffer a loss because of a risk you took. If you had bought a US Postal Service money order instead, would you demand the USPS return your money? You would get nowhere if you tried. It is your responsiblity to validate the reliability of the seller and it is your problem if things go wrong. That's how it is with money orders. Even if Bidpay determines that the seller is a con artist, it's still your loss regardless of what Bidpay does or doesn't do about him.

    In the future I suggest using an escrow service (Ebay has one).

    Also, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, check to see if your policy has a theft by fraud or swindle clause.
     
  6. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    Sorry Jack. That sucks. If unfortunately you dont get your money back, just look on to the postive. It teaches you to be more careful so it hopefully never happens again.

    Things can be much, much worse. Imagine if this was thousands like some have lost.

    This guy seems very stupid though. People are onto him and he is still hanging around ripping off more people?

    I would figure any smart criminal would be long gone by now.

    So, look on the bright side. Chances are something will eventually happen to this guy just because he is just too stupid.
     
  7. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    No, Bidpay shouldn't. I believe they go far out of their way (at least, I recall them doing so when I used them a few years back) to point out that because they're sending out a money order, considered legal tender, there is NO fraud protection; once that puppy's been cashed, it's gone gone gone.

    One of the selling points of a credit card is that you get fraud protection; however, Bidpay did exactly what they said they would, and fufilled their part of the bargain. They should not be held accountable for your actions or the other party's actions, because they have nothing to do with it.

    If you'd made a credit card payment directly to the merchant, yes, you'd have the option of reversing the charges, and the merchant will have signed forms when he open his account with Visa or whoever stating that he knew that could happen, and he'd be eating the costs. But your CC transaction wasn't with the fraudulent merchant, it was with Bidpay.

    Also, you might consider contacting your CC company and telling them you made a mistake, and you want the charge to go through. If Bidpay fights the reversal, and your CC company ultimately figures out that the reversal shouldn't have happened, it might damage your ability to use the card, or to ask for future reversals; crying wolf and all that.
     
  8. Jack Spencer

    Jack Spencer Agent

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    I don't think you people see my point. Morally and ethically they should be initiating collections against the recepient of the money. They know he is a thief. They've been informed of it by dozens of people now. It's just as easy to give his name and address to the collection agency and send demand letters to him as it is to us.

    This is the right thing to do: To protect the victims of fraud. Not to protect the thief.

    People like Bidpay make it easy to rip others off and get away with it. You wonder why there's so much online fraud going on, well this is one of the reasons. Send the collectors after the recepients and you would make a difference. But they won't do that because it's easy to collect from honest people like myself, not so easy to collect from a shady thief.
     
  9. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Jack - We do see your point, and it's wrong. You should be initiating collections against the seller; Bidpay has done no wrong. You took the risk; you suffer the consequences. Trying to fob those consequences onto others is unethical.

    Bidpay states right up front that they will do nothing if your transaction goes haywire; you had to understand and agree to this to be able to use Bidpay's services.

    To put it bluntly, you are trying to absolve yourself of any responsibility. You believe there should be all these mechanisms in place to protect you. Well that ain't how the world works. We all must learn the hard way sometimes. I do sympathize with your plight. I don't like it any more than you. I highly recommend that you pay up; a black mark against your credit rating could cost you much more than $135 in the long run.
     
  10. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Alan is right, we do see your point, but that doesn't make Bidpay liable for your decision to deal with a dishonest seller. They performed the service you hired them for. Why should they be out the money? For some people, Bidpay provides a useful way to collect and send money, but there are no more guarantess with using them than stuffing a wad of cash in an envelope and putting it in the mail. If the seller had illegally pulled funds from Bidpay, then they could look to collection, but they didn't, you authorised the dispersment of funds. Bidpay carried out your request.

    If this person is commiting fraud, then they should be reported to the authorities. Ebay has its buyer protection program - use it.

    In the future, avoid anyone selling who won't take PayPal, at least that way you have some recourse.

    It's not that we don't feel sorry you got ripped off, we do, but Bidpay s not who you should be going after to make things right. They only did what you told them to.
     
  11. Jack Spencer

    Jack Spencer Agent

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    I've done both. The authorities don't care. The group of 6 others I'm working closely with, we've all filed reports with various agencies and have contacted his local police department and have done the safeharbor thing. It doesn't matter. He's going to get away with it because a few thousand dollars spread over a group of people isn't worth anybody's time.

    And that's just sad.
     
  12. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    How are they supposed to know you didn't get your merchandise...that you are not the scammer? Just take your word for it?
     
  13. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Yes, you did make a mistake. You did not investigate deeply enough to find out that the seller was a scammer. What, you say, his feedback was excellent - doesn't matter. Ebay feedback is not a guarantee of anything. If you wanted a guarantee, you should have used an escrow service. Since you didn't, the transaction became a risk - your risk.

    Don't be too certain that your credit rating won't be affected. A lot of companies you may deal with don't have your SSN, but that's not the only way your credit rating account can be accessed.

    This is the last I have to say on this. Obviously you are determined fellow. I hope things turn out in your favor. But I wouldn't bet even a nickel on that outcome.
     
  14. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Bidpay is quite specifically not responsible in ANY way. They quite specifically state that you have NO PROTECTION whatsoever by using them.

    If you want such protection, you'll use a direct credit-card purchase, or an escrow service.

    ALL that they claim to do is to take cash, turn it into a money order. The ONLY differences between mailing cash and mailing a money order are: a) a money order can be cancelled BEFORE the recipient does something with it, and b) the money order is made out to a specific person.

    Did Bidpay turn some money into a money order made out to your specifications? Yes. Did they then send out that money order? Yes. Did they claim that in the case of a fraudulent transaction, they'd go to bat for you? No.

    So, Bidpay has done NOTHING wrong. You told them to send somebody a money order, and they did. End of story.

    To be blunt, you're in the wrong here. Bidpay is not responsible for policing anything in any way. Would it be a good business move for them to take this duty upon themselves? Maybe. But you reversing the CC transaction is, in this case, wrong, and your CC company is going to figure that out eventually.

    You've learned a very valuable lesson: use escrow if you don't want to toss the money away, and if the seller is asking for things like cash or certified check/money order only, maybe it's for a reason. Credit cards, for example, have legally mandated protections. You should be going after the seller, NOT the innocent third party that performed your transaction exactly the way they said they would.
     
  15. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Wrong. A collection agency is more than happy to submit the negative information using your name and address. The major credit bureaus have no problem matching that up on your file.

    While you may have a point on Bidpay doing the moral/ethical thing and STOP paying this person, it still doesn't mean that they shouldn't have paid him on your behalf, as they presumably didn't know the guy was defrauding people when you sent him money. Therefore, regardless of whether the people later down the line have a claim against Bidpay based on their unreasonableness in paying someone who they know if fraudulent, it doesn't mean anything to you.

    Bottom line - Bidpay is well within their rights to send this to a collection agency - who will send this negative info in - which will make it to your credit file. You can of course provide the explanation in your credit file, but it will still negatively impact your score.
     
  16. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    Jack,
    I'm a former cop, and currently a Certified Fraud Examiner. Unfortunately, what everyone has been saying is correct. Bidpay did not provide any type of protection for the purchase. They merely acted as a delivery agent.

    Let's suppose that I wrote you a check for $500.00, told you to deposit it in your account. Then I tell you to take $500.00 cash and go buy me televison to be delivered. You do just that, and provide proof that you did. However, the tv store never delivers the tv. Would you think it's reasonable for me to expect you to take $500.00 our of your personal account and repay me? You did what I asked. If I stopped payment on the original check, then you are out the $500.00. Would that be fair?

    You are a crime victim, and that sucks. There is only person you should blame, and that is the criminal. No one else had any duty to protect your interests in this transaction. Sorry, man!
     

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