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NEED HELP! "Online Degree at home" collection


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I, like a fool, enrolled on one of those programs that use to be ran on tv all the time for "earning a degree at home" ...This was June 2003 when I enrolled, they offered a 30 day cancellation policy....I used it most of that time period, but mailed a letter (first class, not certified) to cancel (dont have copy of it anymore)...anyway, popped up a few months ago on my credit report ...I moved twice since then, never got a collection letter..

Northeast Credit Collections (NCC) is the CA....Penn Foster is the company claiming I owe them money (I guess they bought out Thomson Education Direct at some point) because that's who it was through to begin with.....

I sent a DV letter to the CA (NCC)...and filed a complaint using the BBB and AL State Attorney General (thats where I live...)...

Penn Foster sent me a letter today ( 7 days before the 30 days has past of course)...

It's too much to type, but it basically says they received a $5 enrollment fee June, 3, 2003 and a payment of $100.18 (no date listed for that) for tuition and a total of four lessons were completed out of 15, and 3 sets of material were sent out (how the hell I completed 4 lessons with 3 sets of material is beyond me)....I did actually do some of it...They say they have copies of correspondence and of signed agreements.....but they didn't send any of that, of course......

My argument is that I sent a letter within 30 days to cancel....they say they never got that letter and the account has been AND STILL IS OPEN!! (3 1/2 years and it's STILL OPEN???.....So the full amount is like $1100 some odd dollars on my credit reports (oh by the way, there was no reporting the payments, but they sure popped the negative info on there)..

They said I can call and close the account and I'd only be liable for part of the tuition instead of the full amount they say I owe. They stated that I am still liable to pay what ever it comes to directly to the CA though....that's weird...the OC tells me to pay the CA....is that normal??? I have the feeling even if I do call and close the account, and make a settlement they'll still probably report the remaining balance due later on... and then I'm screwed...(I settled on a Crap One card with a CA, and now they're reporting the difference still owed)....I'm not paying ANYTHING unless they take it off my credit completely, and forever, with that in writing.....

But before I do...

Any suggestions?

P.S. Ironically, I now work in the field (it was an auto body repair course, how they can teach that from books always seemed kinda strange.) I'm an automotive painter at a body shop and also own a custom paint and automotive accessory business....didn't get any help from this crappy course, so my advise is, if you have goals, persue them. You don't need to get locked into owing a ton of money on some crap like this...I never would have thought something like this could even be put on my credit files, I imagine other people have had problems like this as well, if you have, please contact me and let me know your experience. They shouldn't be allowed to do this.

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