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A letter attempting to collect a debt

We received this letter in the mail today:

“After a review of your file we find a balance of $3,987.15. Please pay that amount by cashier’s check of money order to “Miller and Steeno, P.C.” and make sure our file number (######) is on your payment to ensure you get credit. If you are unable to pay in full, call this office immediately to set up a payment plan.

If you fail to pay the amount due or fail to set up a payment plan, further action will be taken without notice.”

It was addressed to my wife. Since we both have stellar credit and have never paid a payment on anything late, I suspected this was either a scam or a case of mistaken identity. My guess is that this firm is trying to find this person who happens to have the same first name and maiden name that my wife does, so they thought they’d just send a threatening demand letter and hope that someone paid it.

This type of collections is absolutely despicable. This is no longer a creditor trying to get paid. This is a creditor selling a years-old debt to an agency for pennies on the dollar, and the agency will do whatever it can to try to make the smallest amount of profit. It’s pathetic and any attorney who runs this type of business is a piece of shit.

Since I knew this was not a legitimate debt, I called the number. The girl who answered the phone, an uneducated, ignorant-sounding girl who couldn’t have been older than 18/19, told me the details of the debt. It was almost five years old, so the agency was desperate to try to get some payment on this debt before the 5-year statute of limitations ran out.

It was supposedly a credit card from a bank that neither of us had ever heard of. I explained that they either have the wrong person or they have a fraudulent account. I suggested that she fax me any documentation they have on file so that I can investigate this, and that’s when it became obvious how little information they must have had.

“Ummm, well, ummm, why don’t I just mark this as a disputed amount and let my management take care of it? I think they’ll just take it off the books.”

“You don’t want to fax me over documentation? If you guys have something that proves it’s my wife’s, and I’m wrong, we’ll pay it. We don’t default on payments.”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll just let my boss take care of it and it will probably just go away.”

If they had anything – a signature, a check showing the last payment, billing addresses that corresponded with my wife’s known addresses – they would have sent it to me. This means that they probably had an amount, a name, and maybe a SSN, and they were trying to bully her into paying just by sending a threatening letter. I guarantee that if I had called up and said that I didn’t want them to take further action and wanted to pay whatever I could, they would have jumped all over themselves to take $500 or $1,000 to “clean up” this potentially negative mark from our credit report.

Parasites like this agency prey on unsuspecting consumers and try to frighten them into paying anything. I had an employee who had that happen and she was practically in tears about a debt that wasn’t hers. The agency set a court date and if I hadn’t set her up with a lawyer, they would have walked all over her. It turned out that they had absolutely no documentation at all and the judge threw it out almost instantly. There were at least 50 other people there, though, most of whom did not have legal representation, and they were meeting with the lawyer for the agency and trying to make payment arrangements rather than fight it.

Fucking pathetic. Fuck you, Miller and Steeno, P.C.


In other Avitanews, there will be no radio show on Wednesday night. Britt has guests coming into town and so she will be unable to co-host, so I thought I’d just abstain from doing a show. Nobody wants to just listen to me talk by myself for an hour!

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51 Replies to “A letter attempting to collect a debt”

  1. Poppy

    My ex has a very common name in Vermont. He got calls and mail all the time from people trying to collect debts from him that were not his. And they were tied to his social security number… it sucked.

    • joe bloe

      @Rattling the Kettle,
      that’s awesome! thanks goes to you from the rest of us that do pay our debts and end up having to pick up your slack along the way. Thanks!

  2. Dee

    The guy that lived in our place before us had issues with the Sheriff’s office (which is the first I knew about Australia having a Sheriff’s office!) and they used to come around all the time looking for him. They never believed he’d moved, and only gave up after 2 years…

  3. Blondefabulous

    The first thing that would have come into my mind would have been “OmiGod, someone stole my identity!” How shitty of that lawyer to further degrade a profession that already has a reputation for being loaded with less than savory charecters. :loser:

  4. Jennifer

    Asshats.

    I worked at one time for a collection agency. It was my job to go in and offset their accounts (I worked for the banks basically) if there was money in it for unpaid debts. I hated thinking that I was taking food out of the mouths of children. I didn’t last long there.

  5. Sue

    I’ve gotten letters like that. I’ve also been ‘double-billed’ for legitimate amounts before. Both I have fought like you did. It IS sad that some people don’t take the time to dispute these things. And worse that others will start them in the first place.

  6. Lisa

    I’ve been getting letters for 19 years for a bad debt that’s under my first husbands name. Each time it comes from a different law firm but refers to the same debt. What really cracks me up is that the amount they want to collect has gotten smaller and smaller. I think if they got $100 they’d be happy. Each time I get a letter it goes into my shredder.

    Ha ha Fuckers.

  7. Crystal

    I dealt with a collection agency for a while after I dropped out of college and defaulted on a loan. What a bunch of asshats. I actually had one of them try to say that I was lying about how the school year was set up at that particular school because it was different than the way her daughter’s college did theirs.

  8. SuvvyGirl

    Agencies like this just piss me off to no end. We deal with stuff like this coming for my husband all the time and it’s usually because of some bill his stupid ex wife wracked up and he didn’t know about and she doesn’t have a job so they go after my husband. It’s irritating. Beyond irritating, they have all decided they do not want to deal with me. With the line of work my mother used to be in and how much I helped her throughout the years I usually know my way around talking to these people. They really don’t like talking to anyone who knows how their system works. And unfortunately sometimes knowing their system still doesn’t do you any good. The courts in this country don’t do anything to stop them but continue to approve bogus garnishments and everything else. Fuckers anyway! πŸ™‚

  9. Grant

    Can’t you just do Britt’s voice in her absence? “Oh, Avitable, you’re so manly. Everything you say is exactly right!”

    I had an incident where an apartment company I rented from tried to say I stayed an extra month. The never told me, they just put it on the books as being in collections. I discovered it years later when applying for credit. I followed up with the collections company who began making threats they couldn’t back (like saying they would garnish my wages), then I contacted a lawyer who advised me just to pay them off to make them go away. I decided not to pay, I sent them a registered letter requesting that all further communication be in writing, and then I waited them out. Eventually it went away without legal fees or bribery. Fuck collectors and crooked apartment management and lawyers (sorry, Avi).

  10. Trukindog

    This is a little different kind of debt collection but still it’s not my debt.

    My future EX-wife took a Gov. student loan more than 20 years before I ever met her and never made a single payment, when they found out we were married they stole my whole tax refund from me and I’ve had to file the injured spouse form every year since so they will only take half of my refund. This year they took the whole thing anyway.

    I can’t afford to pay for the divorce right now nor a lawyer, does anyone know if theres anthing I can do otherwise to make them stop stealing my refund to pay HER DEBT.?

  11. Jay

    Every once in a while I get a phone call from somebody asking me if I know my upstairs neighbor. They tell me that they can’t get a hold of her and it’s sooooo important that they do so and ask me to go see if she’s home. I know it’s a collection agency so I usually tell them that if they want me to act as an agent of their collections company I will require a fee of $500 to get into contact with this person. They always decline.

  12. Candy

    I got a similar letter from Verizon yesterday, for $35.87. We haven’t had a Verizon account in..well..I’m going to guess 5 years, based on your post.

    I was just going to pay it, because it’s only $35.87 and we have shitty credit so it’s probably true, we do owe it, but where are the letters between then and now asking me to pay it? How can today be the first time I ever heard of it. Fuckers.

  13. Bittersweet Confusion

    I would call them again and make sure the record was noted. Since they stipulate that “If you fail to pay the amount due or fail to set up a payment plan, further action will be taken without notice.” They can say that since you didn’t do either they will do worse. I know it’s a hassle but I’m paranoid like that.

  14. Jhianna

    We’ve been getting phone calls for the past six months. Mainly auto dialer, and when we looked up the phone number, it was collection companies. They specialize in taking old debts and trying to collect on them. I had enough of the Saturday late night calls and started calling them back to challenge. Turns out, they were just randomly calling folks in our area with the name they have on the account (my husband’s name is very common). I think if I had been less aggressive with them from the time they said hello, they’d have tried to strong-arm me into paying something. Fuckers.

  15. Poppy

    Trukindog, that really sucks. I guess you married her debt… And at least you weren’t a nice guy like I was and helped your spouse pay off all of her debts 5 years early, leaving you with nothing in your bank when you divorced! (Yah, oops.)

  16. Sybil Law

    That’s absolutely disgusting. We had a similar situation, and got out of it, too, but going to court and having it thrown out. Problem we have, though, is my slimeball FIL having the exact same name as my husband, so most of the time, the debts belong to him. Now I freely give them his address and phone number. It’s kinda fun. πŸ™‚
    But seriously – debt collection agencies and Jerry Springer ought to be shot, for preying on the ill informed and ignorant.

  17. Faiqa

    NO SHOW?! NO SHOW?! You *do* realize I missed last week?! Is this some kind of punishment? Or is it a cop out because you can’t think of a topic? Can’t Britt’s guests just be guests on the show?!

  18. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    I say get Jared to fill in for Britt. πŸ™‚

    And I fucking hate collection agencies. Especially when they hassled my on-the-edge mother at all hours of the day and night just after my father’s death. I believe if I had had a shotgun and some ‘shine, I woulda kilt me some co-lekshun ijits.

  19. Hoosier Girl

    I think you should do the show anyway. You could just pick a topic and let people call in with their opinions.

    Or you could just sound off for a half hour, and then let people call in to argue with you.

    BTW, I hate those debt letters. Hate ’em.

    J.

  20. michelle

    Yes, FUCK them!!!

    My mom got some threatening letters from Sears saying she owes like $300 WTF??? Someone stole her identity for freaking Sears, it made her all nervous but i fixed it so yes FUCK all of those nut jobs!!!

  21. whall

    Clark Howard (http://clarkhoward.com) has a great radio show, and you can subscribe to his podcast for free – you just get the shows a couple of days after they go live. He’s addressed this topic on many occasions and always has stellar advice about anything consumer, debt, credit or related items.

    Oh, and the other thing? I’m sorry I sold your debt to them. Can you blame me? You’re like, rich and shit.

  22. Mindy

    This makes me sick because I have been dealing with asshats for over 10 years trying to collect on debts that aren’t mine. Mine is worse though because my identity was stolen. So every few months I examine my credit reports and it never fails to have at least one thing to dispute and that’s with the red flag on my account to protect me from this in the first place. So I have actually had a cease and desist letter ready in my computer to send out to all that call and try to collect a debt. I never hear from them again, and my credit does not reflect their threats! Word to the wise though… this is only the beginning! With the economy failing it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse so everyone needs to watch out for these morons. :pissed:

  23. martymankins

    I had a friend that got one of these years ago and the collection agency was pretty rude. At least this girl was nice, even if she was ditzy.

    The predatory practices of these agencies are pretty bad, for the most part. I know they are dealing with people not wanting to pay debts, but the least they can do is be reasonable.

    Worse is when you did pay a debt, have proof, but still have a collections agency come after you. Even after sending them multiple proofs over the last 5 years. I am now just waiting for this small mark to drop off my credit report in the next 18 months.

  24. Nina

    I have been harassed by similar vultures. Almost always, they back down when I ask for full documentation. And when I checked my credit score last week, it was not bad, So I don’t let those bastards intimidate me, either. They suck. Good for you for not putting up with it.

  25. Gina

    I work for a bankruptcy firm and we deal with Miller and Steeno all the time. They are just like every other creditor attorney firm: out to get their money. It’s strange that you were being sought for a debt you didn’t even owe, though.

  26. joe bloe

    If it’s not your debt, just tell them that. Write a C&D letter to stop communications. If they take you to court, tell it to the judge. All this complaining is a bit trite though. whaaaa whaaaaaaaa

  27. Kelley

    Wow, I wish I’d seen this before they took me to court last year. On a debt I didn’t owe… and without funds for a lawyer I just wound up signing. It’s the only time I’d ever been taken to court over something.. and yeah. I’d be nice not to owe 2 grand on a debt that I didn’t make that was from apparently like 2006. Good info though!

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