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Old utility bill went straight to collections


FooBar1212
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So here's my tail of woe:

 

Last year, I moved. I closed my account with ConEd at the end of my lease, and provided them with my new address so that they could send the final bill. A few months went by, and the bill never showed up. Finally, I got tired of waiting, dug up the amount due on my account online, and paid it. Problem solved, as far as I was concerned.

 

Fast forward another ~6 months. I got a voicemail from a collections agency, but no indication of who had hired them. I naturally don't trust anyone in the world who calls me to collect money, so I logged into various old utility accounts until I found one that had a balance: ConEd. I called ConEd to confirm that they had gone to the company that called me, so I know the call I received was not fraud. My call to ConEd also revealed that the final payment I had made was declined. I don't know why--it was a small amount, less than $40, and my account had funds to cover it many times over. However, neither ConEd nor my bank notified me of the declined payment. The first indication of trouble came when I received a call from collections.

 

I have now written to the collections agency twice, explaining the problem. As of yet, they have not responded. So now my balance is in collections because ConEd couldn't be bothered to send me a bill, and the collections agency is not returning my messages. I would really be happy to pay it, but I haven't even received payment instructions!

 

I would appreciate some advice on how to handle this. I have excellent credit, and I would like to protect it.

 

Thanks in advance.

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If you pay them fast enough, often they won't report on your credit report.    Really, the only motivation to report is if you don't pay.  I'd call them and see if they will report if you pay them quickly.  If not, I would try disputing on your credit report.  

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Guest usctrojanalum

Check with your bank for any records of that check being declined by them.  If not, ask them to send you a written statement that the bank records show no such check was ever tendered for payment.

 

Yeah, they don't have to provide this.  If ConEd position that no payment was ever made, it is up to the OP to prove that it was made.

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Yeah, they don't have to provide this.  If ConEd position that no payment was ever made, it is up to the OP to prove that it was made.

They are saying it was declined.  I take that to mean they got the check but the bank sent it back.  If the bank can say "no, we never got the check presented", that turns the responsibility back over to ConEd, who should then check with their bank.  It would be even more interesting if FooBar1212 has the canceled check or the banks says "yeah, we paid that".

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Thanks for the tips, I will speak with both the collections agency and the bank. I'm starting with the bank, since what they tell me may affect what I tell the collections agency.

 

Looking through my online banking, I can see no record of the transaction, which is consistent with ConEd's claim that it was declined.

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Thanks for the tips, I will speak with both the collections agency and the bank. I'm starting with the bank, since what they tell me may affect what I tell the collections agency.

 

Looking through my online banking, I can see no record of the transaction, which is consistent with ConEd's claim that it was declined.

If it was declined by the bank there should be an accounting of the payment, they say it was declined so your records should show an NSF charge. If your account does not reflect this I would tell Coned until they can show you proof that proves other wise you get no payment from me.

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Only thing the CA needs to be told is the ConEd account was paid off and you are working on resolving the records.  Well, also tell them you are not going to pay the same thing again.

 

Now where is the check.  ConEd not return it?

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If there is no record of the transaction, ConEd does not have to provide any documentation at all. Their position is going to be it was never paid and if you believe it was paid it is up to you to prove it was paid via a canceled check or bank statements.

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If there is no record of the transaction, ConEd does not have to provide any documentation at all. Their position is going to be it was never paid and if you believe it was paid it is up to you to prove it was paid via a canceled check or bank statements.

He does have ConEd claiming the final payment was declined.  So there should be some record somewhere, like at a bank.  It's as if there was insufficient funds.  Now does he have proof that ConEd processed it?  Does his bank have a record of it coming in?  These are thinks the OP needs to look for.

 

So it could come down to the check was sent in but the bank rejected it for insufficient funds.  Send in a good replacement check.

 

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I went to the bank today. They have no record of the transaction, successful or declined. Moreover, the banks says that the transaction was small enough that they would have allowed it even if I didn't have sufficient funds. That is irrelevant, though, because my checking account had more than sufficient funds at the time. It's possible that I entered a wrong digit when I made the payment, but that seems doubtful. I make online payments regulalry and I always check the account/routing numbers very carefully. It seems like ConEd never processed the payment.

 

I was going with the argument that ConEd never billed me, before or after the payment attempt, but I'm simultaneously trying to sort out what exactly ConEd did. I'm going to give them a call to see what else they can tell me.

 

So far I've had no luck getting in touch with the collections agency. I've never heard of a collections agency being difficult to get ahold of...

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I had a chat with ConEd. The representative was very helpful--she said that I should pay the bill again, and that they would subsequently send me a statement show 0 balance that I could forward to the collections agency (this is contrary to what they told my before). I've already sent the payment. I also recorded the call, so I have a record of them telling me to do this.

 

Hopefully that will clear this up.

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I had a chat with ConEd. The representative was very helpful--she said that I should pay the bill again, and that they would subsequently send me a statement show 0 balance that I could forward to the collections agency (this is contrary to what they told my before). I've already sent the payment. I also recorded the call, so I have a record of them telling me to do this.

 

Hopefully that will clear this up.

It is certainly possible the previous rep "made up" stuff because information didn't come up on the screen.  If the latest rep sees no info that payment was received but declined, it might be the case they never got it, or lost it, or just didn't process it due to it having been placed in collections by then.

 

You're not "out of the woods" yet.  Just be diligent and follow up on everything.  Do not contact the CA until you have that zero statement.  Even then the CA may realize what you did and insist on you paying them collections fees.  Don't pay them as this should never have gone to them in the first place.

 

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