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DV Response, cancelled subscription - Vonage & RMS

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The backstory:
I had an account with Vonage for several years.  It was paid automatically by debit card.  With some difficulty, I closed the account.  Also, for unrelated reasons, I obtained a new debit card so they were no longer able to charge me automatically.  Vonage attempted to charge me for the month after I cancelled the service, and they sent my account to a collection agency.  
 
In summary, Vonage placed the account with RMS.  They claim I owe $37.59.  I believe I don't.  I sent them a DV letter.
 
The original:

 re: VONAGE


Amt: $37.59
Claim No: xxxx
Ref. No: xxxx
 

This is a request for payment of this account which has been placed by VONAGE for collection.  Please remit your payment to the address above in order to avoid additional collection activities.

 

If you have not yet been contacted by an RMS representative, you will be receiving a call to bring this matter to a resolution.  Should you receive this letter after a discussion with our representative, we thank you for your cooperation.

 

Sincerely,

 

M***h S***e

Collector

 

Please consider this as notice if payment is made by consumer check, [...]

My DV:

 

Re: Ref #: xxxxxxxxxx
 
To Whom It May Concern:
 
I have received your letter dated xxxx in which you claim that I owe an alleged debt of $37.59.
 
This letter is to inform you that I dispute this debt in its entirety. I request that you provide validation of this debt pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). This is NOT a request for “verification” or proof of my mailing address, but a request for VALIDATION made pursuant to 15 USC § 1692g Sec. 809 of the FDCPA.
 
Also, please provide the original creditor's name, address, and date of last activity.
 
I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
 
Yours Truly,
xxxxxx xxxxxx
They responded with a letter and what appears to be some kind of computer generated vonage internal statement showing invoices and payments (debits & credits).  

 

 [My name]

 

Claim # xxxx
Vonage # xxxx
 
Please see below per the customer's request:
 
Date: Description: Amount:
xxx Invoice # xxx $xx.xx
xxx Payment. Thank You ($xx.xx)
... repeated ...
[xxx Invoice # xxx $37.59]
xxx Invoice # xxx $0.00
Balance $37.59
 
The invoice outlined in yellow was un-paid.
 
[followed by an itemized invoice]

And the following cover letter.

 

 re: VONAGE


Amt: $37.59
Claim No: xxxx
Ref. No: xxxx
 
Recently you requested information to support the creditor's request for payment of this account.  Enclosed is the necessary information to identify the account.  
 
It is the creditor's desire that this matter be resolved but they do not with to wait any longer for payment and have requested the matter be concluded.
 
Please send us your check payable to the creditor.
 
M***h S***e
Collector
 
Please consider this as notice that if payment is made by consumer check we will convert this check to an electronic debit to your account via ACH and if the check is returned NSF, we will represent the check via ACH debit.
 
NOTICE: SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION WE ARE ACTING AS A DEBT COLLECTOR.  THIS LETTER IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT THIS DEBT AND ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE.

 

My questions are:
  • The DV response appears to say that "M***h S***e" is the creditor.  Do I have a violation?
  • The DV response contains the name of the OC, but does not specifically state that Vonage is the OC.  Did they fail to validate?  Do I have a violation?
  • The DV response did not contain the address of the OC, or any address other than that of the CA on the letterhead.  Do I have a violation?
  • What should my next step be?  I want to tell them why I think they are wrong, but I'm also leary of admitting that the account is mine.  It sounds silly to say "The account isn't mine; I don't know who you are, and by the way, I cancelled the service the month before."  Maybe separate letters to the CA and OC?

 

I'm considering something like:

 

To Whom It May Concern:
 
I have received your letter dated xxxxxx in which you attempt to validate your claim that I owe an alleged debt of $37.59. The bar for debt validation is pretty low, and yet you still failed to clear it. [Leaving out that last sentence if it's not true.]
I'm writing to inform you that after reviewing your provided data, I continue to dispute this account for the following reasons:
  • The creditor indicated, M***h S***e, is an entity with which I have never had a relationship.
  • I do not recognize the stated current balance of $37.59 

Thank you for this wonderful resource you collectively have created, and thank you in advance for any helpful replies I may receive.

 

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My questions are:
  • 1. The DV response appears to say that "M***h S***e" is the creditor.  Do I have a violation?

    No. 

  • 2. The DV response contains the name of the OC, but does not specifically state that Vonage is the OC.  Did they fail to validate?  Do I have a violation?

    No. 

  • The DV response did not contain the address of the OC, or any address other than that of the CA on the letterhead.  Do I have a violation?

    No. 

  • What should my next step be?  I want to tell them why I think they are wrong, but I'm also leary of admitting that the account is mine.  It sounds silly to say "The account isn't mine; I don't know who you are, and by the way, I cancelled the service the month before."  Maybe separate letters to the CA and OC?

    Your next steps are to see if you can pay the OC instead of the collection agency.  I would call the OC and see if you can pay them.  If you can, then the CA shouldn't be reporting on your credit report.  

If you can't pay them, then I would start a dispute with your state attorney general.  It doesn't sound like you owe the amount.  What can you do to actually prove you aren't liable for the last month the collection agency says you owe?

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Wow, thank you for the amazingly fast response.  

 

I guess I'll work on a letter to the OC tonight.  I'll try to dig up what proof I can.  The itemized statement from Vonage shows when I last made or received a phone call, which is several weeks before the next month's charge.  Hopefully I can find something more substantial.  I did not expect this, so I'm not sure how complete my records are.  

 

I'm curious why you suggest paying the OC?  I would prefer not to pay something that I don't believe I owe, even if it ends up costing me more than the amount they claim.  However, I came here for advice, so I'm inclined to do as you say.  

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I agree you should not pay something you believe you do not owe.  What would help your position is any kind of proof that you canceled this account.  This is why I believe people should always record every phone call they make or receive regarding any business or legal matter.  Since Florida is a two-party consent state for telephone recording, you need to be sure the other party consents.  Another possible way to deal with the cancellation issue is to prove that it can be canceled (e.g. is not a term contract), and is a pre-paid service (pay for usage before being allowed to use it), and the fact that you changed the debit card without providing them the new account number (but did provide it to at least one other company you do business with), means you intended to cut off the automatic charges and canceled the service.  The internet is full of cases of people having much difficulty getting accounts at a wide range of businesses to be properly canceled, and have to change bank numbers to cut off the automatic charges.

 

Since the letter you got made it clear the debt is placed with the CA (as opposed to being bought by a JDB, though that may happen later), if I had a case like this, I'd writing back with a letter along these lines:

 

 

Your most recent letter regarding account XXXXXXXXXXXX indicated that the creditor wishes to resolve this matter quickly.  This letter is to inform you that the only way to resolve this matter is for the creditor to correct their records to reflect the cancellation of service that was made on XX/XX/XX, correct the balance due to zero, and retract/withdraw the collection account from agency placement.

 

I will not pay on this debt because I do not owe it.  I demand that you cease any further communication to me about this matter.

 

Or maybe I would write them a 42 page snarky one with the refusal to pay and cease communication deeply embedded.

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