Jump to content

Need advice on a collection agency that turned shady


flak88mm
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi,

 

It's been a while since i've been on this forum. I was an expert back then when I bought my home and I thank all the people in here for the help. Now I am in need of more advice and help. I am rusty.

 

My situation is, I have been paying off this collection agency on an apartment debt that I owed. The debt was when I bought my house, I moved out of apartments and didn't pay the lease break fee which amounted to about $3130. Anyway, to make this short, a collection agency hit me up in 2009 and tried to ding my credit report. THey didn't follow rules, they didn't notify me that they added negative credit info on me w/o notifying me as required by law and I sent them an ultimatum letter to remove it or I can take them to court. Then they recalled the the negative info immediately.

 

Since then I have been making payment arrangemens with them since 2009 to pay off the debt. Each month, the collector would call me asking me if I want to make a payment, at first I used checks and on the check I would write something like "you are authorized only to collect the amount shown on check, any other amount is not authorized". The reason why I put that was because the check had my routing and back acct info. Since then, I started thinking they were cool and started doing E-checks (direct debiting my account) to bring it down below $300.

 

So now, a new person took over my account and I tried to make a payment arrangement (since they stopped calling me, which it turned out I now have a new account holder, who didn't know about my payment arrangement). So then I tell him that I was going to make a payment and what my balance was. He came out that I owed $1100. I was like WTF, I have been paying down the balance and how he came up with that amount. Then he went on saying that the old account holder got sick and didn't do things the right way and that what he should have done was report this collection amount ($1100 balance) to my credit reports. And then I said that he was wrong the amount was below $300. Then he went on to say "By law, we are supposed to charge you 10% interest on any balance that is not paid off to be accrued yearly". So the formula he came up with was the total amount of the debt times 10% each year that its not paid off, so that's how he came up with that amount.

 

I told him that me and my old account holder made an agreement and he said "yes, I see you guys made an agreement that as long as you pay on time in an arrangement, we would excuse you from paying the interest". In my mind, I was like this guy is a BS'er. He then said "OK we will honor our request since you have been paying". Then I said if he can send me the correct balance, on the phone he would say "yes I see here you owe less than $300" but then on paper it still shows $1100. Then I kept demanding it to send it to me in an email or in writing. He said "well we will give you the correct balance as long as you stay on the payment plan to pay the rest off of the $300 and then after that we will send you the balance". This guy is up to something. Then I told him to debit my account $50 so that the balance would be $250.

 

Its been 3 days and no debit yet. I called and they said "yeah it went thru yesterday", I said I didn't see anythhing  yet, usually it would kick in immediately. Then I asked for my balance (since it was another person that answered the phone). She said "it shows you owe us $1050 after you paid $50". I was like in my head WTF? I didn't want to go on outrage so I kept it cool. I told her that I owed less than $300 now and that she would talk to the guy that I talked to last about my account. Then she got back to me on the phone and said that the guy hasn't updated my account with that info yet. But now it seems that after I pay off $300 they will come up with an excuse to collect an additional $800.

 

My plan is to stop doing the debit and continue sending them one last check that "if they cash $250, that they agree that this account is full in payment and closed and to cease any future attempt to collect debt".

 

 

 

Any tips?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems a bit confusing. Did you get a piece of paper of the settlement on monthly payments? if so do you have records of all payments? if so can you prove the amount allegedly owed is 300? if all those are yes then you got them on a FDCPA violation and you should sue them.

 

Also did you record the call of them admitting to a 300 balance? if so with that and the letter you got a violation, since they are misrepresenting the debt is either 300 or 1100 but not both.

 

About your bank account, stop using checks with these people, a money order is about a buck and can save you a lot of headaches.

 

Not sure if you got a recorder, or not, if not explore how to be able to record and check if Cali is a 2 party consent or just 1, if I recall correctly is just one, so you can record with your consent, and it's legal. With all the info on hand call them with the recorder and see what they say about the 300/1100 difference, if they go back and forward that will be misrepresenting the debt and a good cause of action to sue them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

make them show where the law says they have to charge you 10% annually. You should have copies of your checks, figure it out and see if the amount they claim is correct. There is nothing in the law that REQUIRES them to add the 10%, the law may allow it, but I bet there is nothing in the law that states they HAVE to add the 10%.

 

Did you agree to any contract? even if it was verbal, there still had to be a meeting of the minds where they would have had to tell you about the 10%. The parties must mutually assent to the proposed objectives and terms of a contract in order for it to be enforceable.

 

The courts may not create a contract for the parties. When the parties have no express or implied agreement on the essential terms of a contract, there is no contract. Courts are only empowered to enforce contracts, not to write them for the parties. Unless they can show that a law exists that states they can charge the 10% they will have to prove that you agreed to it.

 

Do you have a copy of the contract from the rental property? That contract would govern what, if any, charges can be made to an out standing balance. If they can not provide that contract they may not have a leg to stand on.

 

I would stop paying them and if they file suit I would counter sue for unjust enrichment for the 10%. Now if there is a law in your state or a clause in the rental contract they would prevail. But I would not pay them the 10% until they prove to me they have the legal right to do so.

 

These darn CA's always try to add on illegal charges to an account, that's how they make money. But when they do so that is unjust enrichment if they do not have a legal right to do so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems a bit confusing. Did you get a piece of paper of the settlement on monthly payments? if so do you have records of all payments? if so can you prove the amount allegedly owed is 300? if all those are yes then you got them on a FDCPA violation and you should sue them.

 

Also did you record the call of them admitting to a 300 balance? if so with that and the letter you got a violation, since they are misrepresenting the debt is either 300 or 1100 but not both.

 

About your bank account, stop using checks with these people, a money order is about a buck and can save you a lot of headaches.

 

Not sure if you got a recorder, or not, if not explore how to be able to record and check if Cali is a 2 party consent or just 1, if I recall correctly is just one, so you can record with your consent, and it's legal. With all the info on hand call them with the recorder and see what they say about the 300/1100 difference, if they go back and forward that will be misrepresenting the debt and a good cause of action to sue them.

It does not matter that Cali is a two party state, these collection people always tell you that this call can be recorded. So tell them you are turning on your tape recorder also. They just gave you their consent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are right if they tell you this call may be monitored or recorded for quality bla bla bla, they just gave you their consent to record. If when you call the machine tells you that, is the same thing, so you can record if they got that wording. I used that some times. Anyways I always DV with a statement saying all call to me will consent the recording of said conversation for my records and such records can be used in court, so if they call I need not to say nothing they gave their consent just by calling, also after I send them a DV letter with that I never again receive a call from any debt collector, a stupid one call me 2 times I told them I was recording he agreed they got sued ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what these people are up ti. They still haven't debited my account. They also told me a few days ago that if i am 30 days latr in making a payment on arrangement they are by law allowed to report to equifax experian and transunion. Are they purposely letting time run so they can do this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what these people are up ti. They still haven't debited my account. They also told me a few days ago that if i am 30 days latr in making a payment on arrangement they are by law allowed to report to equifax experian and transunion. Are they purposely letting time run so they can do this?

Maybe send them a money order?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am looking at my files right now that I have sent them back in 2009. I am seeing if there was some kind of agreement I made with them. As far as I know, I don't recall them telling me that they will excuse me from paying the interest if I paid the debt in time. This is somethign the new guy that took over my account came up with recently. I'm going to try sending a money order etc...after I have all my eggs lined up. So far, up to this day, they still haven't debited my account, they are up to something. Maybe trying to run 180 days late and say I didn't attempt to pay and now they have an excuse to report the principal + interest to my credit reports

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok I found some paperwork on the CA's first letter on the account that they are trying to collect on right now. All they said was to make arrangements right away to pay down the debt or face legal action, credit agency reporting, etc. There's nothing in that letter that says that "if you don't keep up with the payment arrangement, we can charge you interest". Absolutely nothing in this manner. What shall I do now?

 

Also, they stopped sending me my balance after I was progressively making my payments. Anyone have some advice? First thing on my mind right now is to talk to a credit lawyer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ask them for a copy of the lease they are collecting on. The law may allow it but if the lease desn't allow it they are violating FDCPA. BOTH the lease and the law must allow the 10% charge.

I have a copy of the lease from the debt validation letter I sent to the CA back in 2009. Shall I look for this info in there? And what part of the FDCPA does it say that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my plan of action:

 

1) Send them a certified letter requesting them to send me an itemized bill (since they stopped sending me the balance a while back) and compare with the original letter (since original letter didn't mention any interest tacked on when I started making payment arrangements)

2) Send a money order of the balance ($300) at the same time with a note stating "if you cash this, the debt is paid in full, and any further collection efforts is ceased and account is closed".

3) If I get an itemized bill different from the amount of the original letter, file a complaint against them with the California State Attorney General if they decide to return the money order and not accept it pursuant to the note in 2). If they accept money order, I won't contact the Attorney General and consider the case closed.

 

 

Let me know if this is a good plan of action or if I need to modify something or add/delete steps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@flak88mm

 

 

1) Send them a certified letter requesting them to send me an itemized bill (since they stopped sending me the balance a while back) and compare with the original letter (since original letter didn't mention any interest tacked on when I started making payment arrangements)

 

 

Good idea. 


 

 

2) Send a money order of the balance ($300) at the same time with a note stating "if you cash this, the debt is paid in full, and any further collection efforts is ceased and account is closed".

 

 

Why send them anything until you know the status of your account?

 

3) If I get an itemized bill different from the amount of the original letter, file a complaint against them with the California State Attorney General if they decide to return the money order and not accept it pursuant to the note in 2). If they accept money order, I won't contact the Attorney General and consider the case closed.

Based on what would you send it to the state AG's office?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2) Send a money order of the balance ($300) at the same time with a note stating "if you cash this, the debt is paid in full, and any further collection efforts is ceased and account is closed".

"What note?  We got no note" -- collector

 

Besides, even if you can prove they got it, it is not binding on them because they did not agree to it.  Cashing a money order or any other form of legal tender does not create an agreement or contract.  The money order is an independent instrument.  You need to get their agreement, conditioned on you paying them (and you need to be able prove that, too), with signature, before sending them any money.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@flak88mm

 

Good idea. 

 

Why send them anything until you know the status of your account?

 

Based on what would you send it to the state AG's office?

I have a copy of the original statement with the actual debt amount and balance from 2009, at that time. If they give me another debt amount that doesn't match the original statement and my balance right now accurately ( i can order bank statements from chase), since nowhere in the original statement does it say they are tacking on interest, then it might be grounds for me to contact the state AG. I don't want to give them too many ideas for a rebuttal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"What note?  We got no note" -- collector

 

Besides, even if you can prove they got it, it is not binding on them because they did not agree to it.  Cashing a money order or any other form of legal tender does not create an agreement or contract.  The money order is an independent instrument.  You need to get their agreement, conditioned on you paying them (and you need to be able prove that, too), with signature, before sending them any money.

 

I'm going to write this note on the check, that if they don't agree to the note on the check, they will end up just returning it to me. I did this to a creditor in the past,which they cashed that means they accepted the note. Another creditor I did this to didn't agree with my terms on the note and returned me the check.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a letter I'm about to send to them per #1 of post 14. Let me know if this is good to go or if I need to make adjustments.

 

Dear XXX

 

Per our conversation on 6/25/2013 on the telelphone, so far I have paid $XXXX on a $YYYY debt leaving me with a balance of $XYZ. I also authorized that you charge $ZZ to my bank account ending in last four digits %$#@ which is Chase Bank/Washington Mutual. Recently, on 7/1/2013, I received a debit on my account of $ZZ under check # 0000 from your company, which now leaves me with a balance of $YYX.

 

As a reminder, I have copies of the original statement reflecting the total debt amount + balance after each payment was made during 2009. For some time now, I haven’t received a balance statement after making payments with E-check. All I receive is a statement that you have charged my bank account but no reflection of the balance after the fact. Please send me an itemized statement of the total debt and my balance per all the payments I have been making since 2009. I would like to receive this statement before I continue making payments with confidence to pay off the remaining debt of $YYX. Please do so after receiving this letter within (10) days so I may continue sending payments to pay off outstanding debt. Thanks in advance.

 

Sincerely,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first thing you did was try to work with a collection agency......They always add fees and interest whether or not it is legal or not....if you do not challenge them it will not be illegal because you agreed.

 

I my self would send them a refusal to pay letter, lease agreements are not hard to get out of. Plus the fact that the lease was from some time before 2009,,what year was it? You could have a case where the debt is past the statute of limitations for them to bring a suit.

 

I would wait until they sue, if they do, and let the court determine whether or not the fees and interest are legal, and let them prove the exact amount you owe. IF they get a judgment in their favor you have solid proof the debt was paid after you pay the judgment. But You can beat them on the statute of limitations.

 

The statute of limitations on an oral contract in California is two years. A lawsuit based on a written contract must be filed within four years from the time that the cause of action occurs. In California, a lawsuit over past rent payments owed must be filed within four years. The landlord must file the suit within four years of the time that the breach of contract occurred.

 

The collection agency by law can say that you started the SOL over when you made payments, but you can always say because of their collection tactics you were under duress to pay it. Plus you have some fdcpa violations, and California state law under the Rosenthal Act, which is California's state fdcpa. That letter that states they may take legal action holds some weight in court, you can claim that because they said legal action would be taken you were under even more duress to pay it.Plus the way they have handled the account proves they are just trying to squeeze as much as they can out of you.

 

Let a judge determine who owes what and if they violated the law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a copy of the lease from the debt validation letter I sent to the CA back in 2009. Shall I look for this info in there? And what part of the FDCPA does it say that?

The part of FDCPA that prohibits a collector from collecting uunconscionable amounts not in the contract, in effect making up their own fees and charging you for it.

 

§ 808.  Unfair practices [15 USC 1692f]

A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:

(1) The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.

 

My argument would be that even if the law allows it, if the contract doen't then the law in inoperative. The law allowing something is permissive, not a mandate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first thing you did was try to work with a collection agency......They always add fees and interest whether or not it is legal or not....if you do not challenge them it will not be illegal because you agreed.

 

I my self would send them a refusal to pay letter, lease agreements are not hard to get out of. Plus the fact that the lease was from some time before 2009,,what year was it? You could have a case where the debt is past the statute of limitations for them to bring a suit.

 

I would wait until they sue, if they do, and let the court determine whether or not the fees and interest are legal, and let them prove the exact amount you owe. IF they get a judgment in their favor you have solid proof the debt was paid after you pay the judgment. But You can beat them on the statute of limitations.

 

The statute of limitations on an oral contract in California is two years. A lawsuit based on a written contract must be filed within four years from the time that the cause of action occurs. In California, a lawsuit over past rent payments owed must be filed within four years. The landlord must file the suit within four years of the time that the breach of contract occurred.

 

The collection agency by law can say that you started the SOL over when you made payments, but you can always say because of their collection tactics you were under duress to pay it. Plus you have some fdcpa violations, and California state law under the Rosenthal Act, which is California's state fdcpa. That letter that states they may take legal action holds some weight in court, you can claim that because they said legal action would be taken you were under even more duress to pay it.Plus the way they have handled the account proves they are just trying to squeeze as much as they can out of you.

 

Let a judge determine who owes what and if they violated the law

Well the original letter shows the balance (which is balance w/o interest) and a note that says "If you do not make this payment as planned, we will assume that you have no intention of honoring this debt or your agreement and we will resume collection activity. If your payment has already been sent, thank you and please disregard this notice." Then in bold and capitals it says "SEND THIS NOTICE WITH YOUR PAYMENT FOR PROPER CREDIT!" Then in the bottom it says "This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose. This communication is from a debt collection agency".

 

I'm not sure if my case would be considered a written contract or an oral contract or both. In terms of SOL, I have been paying so as long as I keep paying, the SOL starts from my last payment, not from when they gave me the first bill. I only have a balance of $180, how are they going to take me to court? Use interest fees tacked on as an amount I owe them ($180 + $1K+)? I'm going to try sending them the letter in my last post and go from there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

OK I am resurrecting this thread to have other members in here weigh in on what I shall do next. I paid off the debt with a money order of $200 (Thus fulfilling the $3130 debt). In the money order I stated that if they cash it that they agree the account is paid in full and further collection efforts are ceased. Well yes they did cash the money order and are now bound by this agreement. I am unsure of what California Law is on things like this (binding agreements) but they in turn sent me a letter back stating

 

"Thank you for payment towards above referenced account. Your payment was received on 9/13/13 in the amount of $200. Upon check clearing without delays or penalties closes this account. Because over $800 of interest was waived this account is "settled in full" and not "Paid in Full", the trade line on the credit bureaus will appear as such. Thank you for your payment"

 

So now they are deciding to report this to my credit reports. What shall I do next? Are they violating anything? Now I am worried my scores will go down because of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.