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ATT is my bad penny, question of CA/JDB FDCPA violation


Zelph
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In the beginning I found this site to help me with an issue of a disputed bill between myself and ATT Mobility. I've learned many things and you have helped me immensely with my subsequent issues.

 

Quick recap:

 

1. 04/2012 – closed my account with ATT it became a nightmare with them trying to charge for bogus items and questioned contractual agreements. End result was I told them I refuse to pay. Total billed was $335.

2. I was contacted by a CA (ESO) about bill (07/2012). Ignored that letter.

3. I was contacted by a 2nd CA (SouthWest) both by letter and phone call (09/2012).

4. I told SW on call that I refuse to pay. And quite calling. No DV or C&D was sent.

5. I ignored subsequent demands, calls and finally canceled my phone service.

 

Enter Creditinfocenter

 

6. Following advise from here, I applied for ATT arbitration (03/2013).

7. I was sent a notice from ATT that stated that they received my claim and were turning it over to their legal dept (03/2013). Nothing more.

8. During that time I received another demand from SW for the entire bill (03/2013). Total now $468.

9. I sent them a DV via CMRRR along with a C&D (03/2013).

10. I have received nothing more from ATT and no validation from SW for the DV request.

11. Yesterday I received another demand from SW for a settlement offer of 50% but still no validation.

12. Since I'm refusing to pay, I pulled my 3-CR and couldn't find anything about ATT, I wanted to find out if it has been charged off and what position SW holds (assignee or JDB).

13. I feel this 2nd demand is a violation of FDCPA since they sent nothing, NADA, that could be a claimed as validation and they continue to try to collect.

 

I'm assuming SW is a CA/JDB since they said they are offering a 50% discount if I sent them a check within the next 10 days as them as payee. Yeah right!

 

I didn't start this journey with an eye on filling FTC claims but enough is enough and wonder if it wouldn't be in my best interest to file the claim. Health reasons were the motivation for challenging 6 other accounts (I have been following advice from here and CMRRR everything). Monitoring CR and local court dockets, protecting exempt income.

 

None of the other 6 show charge offs but the 180 days isn't up until 05/10/2013 and expect them to show later. None of my other current accounts show 'closed' even though they (3) have closed them or raised my interest rates through assumed 'universal default' clauses. I now only have 2 auto loans and 2 small retail accounts other than utility companies open.

 

My 3-FICO has dropped 125-150 points even without judgments or charge offs. I guess the only direction for me is down.

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Well, you're not supposed to include a C&D with a DV because you're asking them to validate but also to cease and desist contact.  I suppose they could validate and then state that they're ceasing collection attempts, but I don't know how many would do that.

 

However, in your case, they didn't validate or cease and desist.  It appears you could have an FDCPA violation.

 

In regard to your credit score, don't worry about it.  If you have current positive entries on your CR, as long as you keep them that way, your credit rating will eventually improve.  But, as willingtocope's signature line states, "manage your debt, not your credit score."   The first time I ever read that line, I liked it because it makes sense.

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You should have sent DV to SW within 30 days of their initial contact, for it to have the effect of stopping collection until they validate.

 

A cease communication letter combined with a DV makes no sense since that is giving them conflicting directions.  However, since you're past the time to do a meaningful DV, they could just cease communication.  But send the cease communication (or refuse to pay) letter all by itself (CMRRR again) to be sure you have a clear and unambiguous order (to prevent a possible defense by them if you sue for a subsequent FDCPA violation).

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As I have stated several times in the past.  I inform the collector that 'I have no phone' I try to convey that I have neither land nor wireless phones and it would be difficult and untimely to try and contact me electronically over this alleged debt so the only sure way is to communicate through the USPS.  

 

It's seems that it is almost inconceivable that a person has no phone in this day and age but I spent 37 years answering inane questions and solving mostly self-induced technical issues with users through my capacity as 24/7 support for a large data center.  I developed an almost uncontrollable urge to smash, destroy or heave the damn thing out the window when ever I heard it ringing.  That was one of my reasons to retire early coupled along with my health issues.  I continued to carry a cell phone for 2 years then decided I didn't need it, and canceled my service soon after the calls stated coming in over my debt issues.

 

I don't demand a cease & desist request but do inform whomever in each DV that since I have no phone it would be difficult to try and contact me other than through the USPS at the enclosed physical address.  I figure that since I'm dealing with the unwashed and end of career dredges of society I felt the need to enclose that caveat in my communications. 

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After carefully looking over the collections notices from Southwest and determining that they are in clear violation of the FDCPA rule about trying to continue collection without validating I decided to follow up and file my first complaint to the FTC and the AG in Oregon.  

 

DONE!!!

 

Both notices included the verbage required i.e. mini-maranda with the 30 day warning and all the account numbers and debt the same.

I haven't received any validation or attempts at validation from either AT&T or Southwest.

AT&T's last letter stated they were forwarding my complaint to their legal eagles.

Southwest seems to have dropped the ball and continued to try and collect.

 

I am sending a CMRRR to Southwest a Refusal to pay before the 30 days are up also.

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Keep proof of that refusal letter, if they try to collect after they receive you can sue.

 

They will claim they did not receive the letter.

 

Educate yourself on willful blindness.

lt describes an attempt to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting oneself in a position to be unaware of facts which create liability.

 

Also reasearch some case law from your state on cease and desist and refusal to pay orders.

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I won a small victory, but to eat an elephant you need to take one bite at a time.

 

I was notified this afternoon (June 21, 2013) that,

 

'AT&T has investigated the disputed account and related charges.  Irrespective of their validity, please note, that AT&T has closed out the disputed balance of $3XX.XX associated with account 80XXXXXXX under the name of 'ME'.  

 

This letter shall serve as confirmation that AT&T account 80XXXXXXX under the name of 'ME' reflects a zero balance and is now closed.  In addition, AT&T has instructed Southwest Credit, to immediately cease and desist collections and to recall/retract any negative report to any third party credit bureau to which it may have reported.'  more...

 

Thanks to all on this board that helped keep me focused.

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  • 1 month later...

Good Job! You shouldn't hear from them anymore, Keep that letter for at least 3-4 years, they might haunt you down the road, I can tell you AT&T is on my black list. A recent class settlement for cramming plus the watch on them of many AG offices, combined with your FTC complaint, probably got their attention, and they closed rather than attract more media attention on an already shady grey company name.

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