Bad Debt – Collecting

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This isn’t something The Pink Flamingo would usually write about, but I’ve been through the wringer with credit card collection agencies.  It’s like this, I fought the collection agencies with the law, and the law won!  It cost about $200 more to fight the battle against a $1800 credit card bill I did not owe, but it was worth it.

The debt collector could not produce any evidence of my charges, which I denied.  It was a card I went to use while traveling.  I owed nothing on it, having paid off the balance (or so I thought) it so I could use it while traveling.  I arrived at a motel, somewhere in Texas, and the card was canceled.  It seems my payment, which was made on the road, arrived late.  I had a late fee of about $25 bucks.  I’d been traveling for nearly five weeks, helping the parents’ pack up the house they’d sold.  I hadn’t picked up my mail.  It didn’t matter.

I refused to pay the late fee.

They added late fees, service charges and interest – to the tune of nearly a thousand bucks, then kept adding it to the tune of 30% a month. Fast forward by five years.  I forgot about it.  I get a summons by the local sheriff.  I called my attorney, who went through the roof.

Long story short, they could not produce any charges, only service charges.  Alan, my attorney managed to get a trial, here in Lincoln County.  They credit company refused, demanding a trial in another state.  The judge dismissed, furious with them.

I am currently fighting AT&T for something like $60.  I don’t owe $60.  I had AT&T when I lived in South Carolina, but changed it, at least 15 years ago, to accommodate MCI so I could go online.  I battled them for 10 years over a bill I did not owe – even when I had the paper work.  Now, they want 60 bucks for an account I never had.  Evidently it is left over from when Cellular One merged with AT&T.  I discovered I’d been paying Cellular One for nearly a year – eighty bucks a month, for an account I had canceled. I had the paperwork.  For some weird reason they now want $60.  I keep telling their collection agency that I have all the paperwork, and to leave me alone.

Fat chance that.

So, I found this article to be fascinating.

“…The same problems that plagued the foreclosure process — and prompted a multibillion-dollar settlement with big banks — are now emerging in the debt collection practices of credit card companies.

As they work through a glut of bad loans, companies like American Express, Citigroup and Discover Financial are going to court to recoup their money. But many of the lawsuits rely on erroneous documents, incomplete records and generic testimony from witnesses, according to judges who oversee the cases.

Lenders, the judges said, are churning out lawsuits without regard for accuracy, and improperly collecting debts from consumers. The concerns echo a recent abuse in the foreclosure system, a practice known as robo-signing in which banks produced similar documents for different homeowners and did not review them….”

Deal Book NYTimes

There are some in this world who might say that people who are in this position are dead beats.  I’ve been there and done that.  I’m not a dead beat, but I refuse to pay interest and late fees on charges I never made.

Something I’ve also learned.  If you have a problem paying a bill, call the credit card company and talk to someone who can help you.  Make the call before you are behind on your payments.

BUT – if you have paid the blasted bill, and are being harassed the way AT&T continues to harass me, DO NOT EVEN RESPOND.  You do, and they open the entire account, all over again.  What ever you do, don’t respond.  If it has gone to a collection agency, let your fingers to the walking.  Research the agency, have all the information you can find, printed, and in a file, ready for your attorney.

By going to an attorney, you’re not going to save much money, but once in awhile, you get a really good guy for an attorney, like Alan Morel.  Alan loves taking out these jerks, and will go the extra mile.  I suspect, if more people would do this, the harassment would eventually stop.  It may be costing me some money, but it cost the collection agency far more than it cost me.  They are in it for profit.  Kill their profit and you kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

 

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4 thoughts on “Bad Debt – Collecting

  1. What those folks do with collections actions like that is nothing short of legalized theft. It’s insane. The consumer is usually the loser.

  2. The worst of it – what hospitals do the consumer via their billing is even worse. I had to battle $5.00 being sent to collections via the local hospital because my mother’s GP had a glitch in their medicare supplement reporting. That was removed. The hospital owed her around $500 – this was in mid June. So far, two weeks ago, they sent a check for $270. I can’t do the collection agency thing on them. It’s so one sided. The consumer has no rights.

    SJR

  3. As long as collection agencies get the bill paid it doesn’t matter whether they have the right person or not. This is what happened to me – I got a telephone call not long ago from a collection agency telling me that I owed a bank $250.00. The man insisted that I give him my credit card number in order to pay this amount. I had never had an account at that bank so I refused. He got very ugly and told me that he was going to ruin my credit rating. When he hung up, I called the bank and they confirmed the fact that I did not owe them any money. I thought that would be the end of it, but I kept getting calls, some of them threatening to send the sheriff out to my house. I called the bank again and told them to put a stop to these harassing calls. They told me that once something was turned over to a collection agency there was nothing they could do. I told them that if I got another call I was going to turn the matter over to my lawyer. I have not had any more calls since then, but I wonder if that will be the end of it.

  4. I think they are afraid of lawyers. From what I gather, if people would do just that, the whole problem could be stopped within a short period of time. They get away with things because people are so embarrassed they won’t call. Looks like you are caught up in a phishing expedition. My mother and I now live in fear that someone like this is going to call my father and he will start giving people numbers on accounts.

    SJR

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