View Full Version : erm, Anyone ever gotten bills you don't owe?
11-01-2001, 07:28 PM
So I go to check the mail and lo and behold, I have a letter from the Virginia Commonwealth University admissions office. Considering I have yet to submit my application, I thought it was kind of odd. So I open it and what do I see?
Fall Tuition ... $806.19
Fall Lab Fee ... $30.00
Fall Misc. Fee ... $15.00
Late Payment Penalty ... $83.00
Total ... $934.19
Due immediately. They claim I am several weeks late on payment. My question is..... huh? I don't attend VCU. I have never applied to take classes at VCU. I've never been inside the VCU campus. I'm a high school senior, in fact.
So I call up their financial office and the snobby lady on the other end asks "Well, if you're not attending VCU, why would we send you a bill?"
Well, dammit, that's what I want to know.
Anywho, after speaking to several people, and wasting an hour on the phone, I got it straightened out... so now, after my "professors" send a letter to the financial office saying that I haven't been attending my classes, and my "roomate" does the same, my bill should disappear.
Now, wasn't that fun? :D I'm not really ranting, so I figured it wasn't at all pit worthy.. just sharing.
So has anyone had any similar experiences? Recieving a bill that you can't help but laugh at, given the circumstances?
11-01-2001, 07:37 PM
My father used to get phone calls from bill collectors who had him confused with someone else of the same first and last name. He was usually quite calm with them and learned to ask them quite quickly if they were calling for so-and-so of such-and-such street, which usually put a quick end to the confusion.
He got one of these calls while he was having a particularly bad day. He was out of patience already and this person on the phone was not helping. Apparently, they weren't interested in resolving confusion, they just wanted to arrange payment for the Craftsman lawn tractor this other person had taken home and promptly forgotten to pay for.
So he decided there was one quick way to end this call and possibly put an end to this kind of confusion permanently. He said in a loud, clear voice, "Do you have my address?" There was a pause. "Good. Read it to me." Another pause, during which I gathered they read the address of the deadbeat who shared my father's name. "Fine ... if you're going to keep bothering me like this ... come get your goddamn tractor!"
And he hung up.
11-01-2001, 08:07 PM
Well, I got a series of them for someone with a male variation on my name (which is decidedly female). My name isn't Stephanie Jones, but if it were, then they'd be for Stephen Jones, if you follow my drift.
I didn't get the original bills.
I did get a rather hysterical collection notice from a collections agency.
I called and had it fixed.
I got another one.
I called again.
I got- I swear to you this is true- a summons to appear in court (well, for "Steve" to appear in court) for failing to pay the bill.
I called the lawyer.
Then I moved, so I have no idea if the next step was going to be uniformed officers.
11-01-2001, 08:26 PM
Our former gas company sent us statements for several months, after we had already switched from them to another gas service, that showed that THEY OWED US $7. I think we sent them something to the effect of "Either send us the damn seven bucks or quit sending us these stupid statements!" They finally quit sending them, but we also never got our seven bucks. Who cares -- at least we don't have to deal with them anymore.
I also once got several calls within about a week from some bank I never heard of that claimed I owed them money. They apparently had me confused with someone of the same name AND a phone number that was one digit off in the prefix (same area code, different prefix and city). I have a fairly common name, but it was still weird.
Unfortunately, right now I have plenty of bills that I DO owe. No weaseling out of those!
Signed, Miss Chanandler Bong
11-01-2001, 08:46 PM
I got a very scary one from IRS for $110,000. After pouring over my return and their bill, I discovered I really owed them $110.00 - they moved a decimal point somehow.
I called an office in Utah and got a great adjuster. He agreed that they were in error but said, "You'll get further notices and we'll scare the hell out of you, but feel free to use my name if anyone contacts you by phone." Said it would take about ninety days to settle and his best advice was to ignore any mailings but to pay the $110.00 so that I wouldn't be charged penalties.
Sure enough, I got the adjusted return a few months later. Two years after that I got a similar bill from the State of California, wanting lots of money with penalties added because I'd misrepresented the amount I'd paid to the Feds. A furious exchange of paperwork and that was solved as well.
I had pneumonia a few years ago right after starting a new job and didn't have any accrued sick leave. As is always advised, I contacted my creditors asking if I could pay interest only and requested a 'hardship' billing plan. Absolutely not! Fortunately, I didn't owe too much but it was spread over four accounts. It damaged my credit for a short while but with a doctor's verification, a verification from my job and with copies of the letters I'd sent, I was able to get the strikes removed from the credit report when purchasing a new home.
This was scary stuff - come to think of it, the IRS threat was worse than the anthrax threat.
11-01-2001, 11:48 PM
I once had a deputy sheriff accost me in the parking lot of a radio station I worked at and try to serve me with papers for a civil suit from a jewelry store in Idaho. (I live in Oregon, several hundered miles from the Idaho border.) Fortunately, it was easily cleared up when I checked the address and the spelling of the name. Both front and last name moderately common, but I put an extra letter in that only about 10% of those who use the name add to it.
Turns out that the actual culprit was a new assistant minister in the fairly small town (10,000). I called up the head minister and explained the situation. Then I called the credit bureau and had them file the information about the other guy (his spelling, address and occupation) so they could double check with me if they got any negative credit stuff in. Worked like a champ. Never heard anything more from it, and I believe the other guy didn't stay long in town.
That was simple. The time I stupidly put the state tax check in the letter to the IRS and the IRS check in the letter to the state tax people took MONTHS to straighten out. The state was cool, returned the wrong check to me within a week and no problems. The feds, OTOH, took a number of phone calls, copies of correspondance from the state and a helpful letter from my bank (I'd made cashier's checks for both state and feds) and tons of aggrivation.
Now I triple check, and try to have enough withholding so that I don't have to send them a check. Sheesh!
It's the ones I do owe that bother me!
11-02-2001, 08:18 AM
Ugh, I'm trying to straighten out a bill right now that I already paid, but for some reason, it keeps showing up on the company's arrears list. I have the canceled check and everything. It's gone from the company's accounting office to a debt collection agency, and as of yesterday, to a legal office that is threatening to sue me.
I have repeatedly called these various agencies, and everytime I call, I'm gunning for a fight, but the person on the phone is always apologetic and polite, and claims that they will take care of this. I've sent numerous copies of the canceled check. I honestly don't know what to do anymore, and by this point, this MUST have gone on my credit record, and if it's this much of a hassle to get them to stop billing me, I can't imagine what it's going to take to get the credit report corrected.
The goofy thing is that the bill is for $51, and I'm guessing they have already spent more than $51 dollars trying to re-collect it.
11-02-2001, 08:37 AM
A few years ago when I applied for a mortgage, the bank contacted me about several outstanding, overdue loans and credit cards. These debts included cars I'd never driven, AMEX bills for which I've never applied and signature loans in states I've never visited.
My first thought was that I was a victim of identity theft. But after several letters and phone calls to the credit bureaus, the incorrect items were removed. While never admitting error, the bureaus no longer include those items on my credit report.
11-02-2001, 09:27 AM
Several years ago, we got a notice from the IRS that a mistake had been made on our return and needed correction. We did just that and never heard another word from them.
We moved several months after that and a couple of years later we discovered that we had a lien on our property for $2,000 from the state of Ohio. After investigating we found that they had sent a form to our old address--which was not forwarded BTW--saying we needed to attach proof that we had filed the corrected form, and until that letter was returned to them a lien would be placed on our property. Now they knew where we lived cause they were able to attach a lien but they couldn't find us to send us the letter? Huh?
After much legal wrangling they admitted that they had made a mistake but we still had to pay $250.00 to the county court house to get a lien release filed. Then we had to mail a copy of that to about half a dozen credit bureaus and government offices. The kicker is it still shows up on our credit report as "resolved" but doesn't say it was a mistake. It looks like a bill that they had to take us to court to get paid.Then we have to produce the copy of our letter and go from there.
11-02-2001, 10:09 AM
We've gotten mixed-up billing from every cable company we've ever subscribed to. They'd lose the paperwork and say we didn't owe them anything, then next month they'd bill us for both months. It got to the point where we'd be mailing copies of the cashed checks along with the bill to show that yes, we had sent the previous ones and yes, they already had our money. We eventually cancelled our service because the rabbit ears on our TV never screwed up the billing.
I got a call from a telemarketer shortly after that, and I explained that we'd been screwed on the billing by everybody we ever subscribed to. "Oh, our company would never do that," he said. "Sure must suck to have to make statements like that on cold calls," I said. Yes, we had previously subscribed to his company.
Our daughter's first version of a birth certificate was a death certificate. I called the county and said what had happened, and they said "Well, just draw a line through wherever it says 'death' and write in 'birth'."
11-02-2001, 11:08 AM
After seeing and reading through this topic, I just had to de-lurk, register, and post my story...
I always have extra money withheld from my paychecks for taxes. I know, I know, I'm providing the government with an interest-free loan for the year, but I like the peace of mind that I never have to pay the government at the beginning of the year. So, in April of this year I did my taxes (yes, even though I always get money back on both my state and federal taxes, I procrastinate and wait until April to do my taxes) and happily waited for my federal and state refund checks to come in.
I received my federal check right away as always, but not the state check. I put it out of my mind, not really thinking about it, until the beginning of July when I received one of those official-looking mailings from the state. I assumed that this was my state refund, and eagerly ripped open the envelope (okay, I actually slowly and carefully opened it, as I have an irrational fear of tearing the check inside into little bits and having the bank reject it when I bring in a check consisting of two or more taped-together pieces). What I find instead is a notice that the city of XXXX, Minnesota (name withheld of course) has withheld my state tax refund and applied it to an unspecified bill that I owe. I immediately called the name and number for the city Finance Director (who was listed on the notice), and was told that the city probably withheld my taxes for an unpaid ambulance or hospital bill. I asked him to find out what the exact reason was and call me back. When he did, he informed me that I had an unpaid ambulance bill in the amount of $900 (!!) at the city of XXXXX ambulance service. I told him that I didn't live in the city of XXXXX (in fact, I live about 350 miles away, and am only in the city occasionally to visit my wife's grandfather), have never been in an ambulance, and have been to their hospital exactly once, about three years ago, for strep throat during the fourth of July (which explains how my name is even in their hospital/ambulance computer system).
I was given the name and number for someone at the ambulance service, who I called right away. He confirmed that, yes, as John Smith, I did owe this ambulance bill. He confirmed that the John Smith had my exact social security number. He was confused by the fact that his John Smith had a local address, while mine was from 350 miles away. However, the fact that John Smith had my social security number and a $900 ambulance bill was incontravertible evidence to him--this was my bill to pay. Never mind the fact that I have never received the bill, was not in the city of XXXXX on the day the ambulance services were obtained, and have never suffered a stab wound to the chest (this being the reason for the ambulance run). He agreed to look further into it and call me back.
Twenty minutes later the ambulance service rep calls me back. He agrees that this is a case of mistaken identity, and that he can clear it up. I thank him and give him the number for the city Finance Director, asking him to call and clear up the issue with him. The rep agrees and I am satisfied, and wait for my check to arrive.
A few weeks pass, and my check still hasn't arrived. Confused, I call back the ambulance rep, and suddenly his story has completely changed. No, he can't confirm my identity, or that the ambulance bill isn't mine, and that he can't confirm anything until the city Finance Director say so. I tell him that the city Finance Directory sent me TO THE AMBULANCE COMPANY, and that he was expecting YOU to confirm my identity. Sorry, can't help you, was the response. Fuming mad, I call the Finance Directory, and get the same story--sorry, can't confirm that it's NOT your bill, so we will just assume that it is. It's now been a month since I received the original notice, and now I'm thinking that my property tax refund, which I should receive any day now, will be applied toward this ambulance bill. A few days later, yep, you guessed it, I receive a notice that my property tax refund is being withheld by this ^&%!@# city. At this point, I figure that by 2003 my state and property tax refunds will have completely paid off this ambulance bill.
I spend about a week doing some research, trying to figure out what to do next. I try to find the phone number for the John Smith who actually ran up the bill, since I have his address. However, reverse lookups on the web turn up nothing (I figure someone who gets stabbed in the chest and stiffs the ambulance/hospital on the bill just may not be credit-worthy enough to have a phone in his own name). The next week I start calling the Finance Director again. For an ENTIRE STRAIGHT WEEK he refuses to return my calls! I even call the receptionist to make sure that he's actually in the building, and not on vacation or out of the office. I'm calling him directly--he must have literally not answered his phone the entire week. I start doing some more research on the web, and find that by law I have the right to request a hearing on the issue--but I have to make my request with 45 days of the original notice. Guess when the 45 days was up? Yup, during the week that this piece of excrement public official refused to take my phone call. I am now in an absolute rage about this situation. I have essentially been told that I can't prove that the bill ISN'T mine, and I've been treated as if I'm some deadbeat trying to shirk a bill.
My wife calms me down by saying, if they're claiming that this hospital/ambulance bill is yours, call them up and get the bill. Get the medical reports as well, and when you find the discrepancies in the physical descriptions of the patient (i.e., John Smith has blond hair and blue eyes, while I have dark hair and green eyes) shove it under the bastards' noses. I mean, it is supposed to be mine, right, and its under my social security number? I call the ambulance service and request the bill and medical reports from the same rep I've been dealing with all along. Of course, he remembers me, and tells me that I can have a copy of the bill (how generous, since I've already paid $500 dollars of it thanks to my withheld tax refunds) but not the medical records. Why not, I ask, you've already charged the bill to me, doesn't that mean it's mine and the medical records are as well? Yes, I'm told, but you're disputing it. We must make sure that any medical information is only given out to the patient it belongs to, and since you claim you aren't the patient, you can't have the records. Pretty convenient, I respond--I match close enough to the patient to get stuck with the bill, but not enough to receive the medical records. And I'm being denied one of the pieces of information that could help me prove my identity.
Finally, pissed beyond all belief, I contact a lawyer in the town of XXXX. I find that while he's not suprised that I'm having trouble with the city ambulance service (apparently, their billing and administrative problems are well known) but he's basically unwilling to take on the city, especially for such a relatively paltry sum of money. However, he does suggest that I get the police report on the stabbing, which should be a matter of public records. That should give me a physical description of the victim and help my prove my case (plus the fact that I don't have a jagged knife scar running down my chest).
I also decide to send a letter describing the difficulties I've had in resolving this situation. I send this letter to the Finance Director, the ambulance service, the city mayor, and the entire city council. I then call the city police department, and tell them my story. I get bounced around to a few different departments, finally am told that someone will call me back. Lo and behold, who calls me back but the city Finance Director! All of a sudden, he's got this brilliant idea that I should fax a copy of my driver's license and they can check that against the police report to confirm that the stabbing victim/ambulance patient is not me. Mind you, this is two months after the original notice, and the Finance Director just know comes to this flash of knowledge? It is also, coincidentally, after I've asserted my legal right to the medical and police reports that can confirm my identity, and after I've sent a scathing letter describing this slimeball's laziness and ineptness to his superiors, that I finally get a response? I am almost disappointed when I receive the apologetic phone call to tell me that the situation is resolved, and that I'll receive my refund soon, since I know this a-hole is only doing this to cover his own sorry ass. He also has the gall to respond to my letter and try and defend himself. He says he didn't call me back during the week that he ignored all my phone calls because he "didn't have any new information to tell me." That's great, asshole, I know you didnt' have any new information, especially since you weren't doing anything to resolve the situation. But, what, you don't have five minutes to pick up a phone and give me a call back? Is it city policy for its employees to just ignore phone calls from people because they don't have any "new information"?
Needless to say, I have since written another letter, adding the city and county attorneys plus the state attorney general to the list of recipients, letting them know how this self-serving sack of excrement only did his job when I forced his hand. Still, the issue still feels so unresolved for me--all I got back was the exact amount of my tax refunds that were withheld, but I lost many hours of my time following up on things. I'm not sure what I expect, it just feels like such a letdown. I mean, short of driving six hours to the city of XXXXXX and punching the Finance Director in the mouth, there's not much I can do. I guess I can chalk it up to a learning experience, as in "Little guys gets steamrollered by the rolling wheels of bureacracy." Or perhaps having the name "John Smith" (not my real name, of course, but my first and last name are just as common, if not more so!) is just an invitation to bureacratic misfortune--perhaps the lesson is that I should head to the local courthouse and petition to be named Zaphod Beeblebrox?
Trip to local courthouse...10 minutes.
Paperwork to change name....15 minutes.
Phone bill coming to "Zaphod Beeblebrox"...priceles...
Anyway, thanks for listening, it helped me get some bad feelings out [/rant off].
11-02-2001, 11:42 AM
I had this happen dealing with a slimball ISP.
Their billing system was a mess. Sometimes I would get a bill every month, sometimes every three. Sometimes I would get billed when I had already paid. On top of this the system was constantly going down.
Thatís it says I, cancel my account you guys just arenít worth the hassle. Uhhhmmm, I said cancel my account. Account is still open after the third time I asked them to cancel it. And I am still receiving bills. I let them know in uncertain terms that I want that account canceled. Finally, they do it. But they leave my email address open. Only I can't access it. People can still email me to these folks but I can't read it.
Uhhhmmm, remove my email account from your system. They tell me that they can't. That it is physically impossible. WTF. But for a small monthly fee they will forward any email I receive at that address to my new ISP.
Oh, so that's how you make your money. Dirt bags.
11-02-2001, 12:04 PM
Verizon Wireless just loves to bill you new fancy options you've never heard of, and obviously never asked for. Every month I have to read the entire bill (lots of pages mind you!) to make sure they did not charge us for this voice actived (or whatever else) I don't know what, that our phone can not even support! One time out of two I have to call and get a credit about something......
11-02-2001, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by Civil Defense
Fall Tuition ... $806.19
Fall Lab Fee ... $30.00
Fall Misc. Fee ... $15.00
Late Payment Penalty ... $83.00
Total ... $934.19
I think I need to move to establish residency in VA and go to school there with tuition that cheap.
Tennessee really needs a state income tax :(
11-02-2001, 03:06 PM
I think I need to move to establish residency in VA and go to school there with tuition that cheap.
Tennessee really needs a state income tax
That was another thing I found funny- the $900 fee. I'm applying to VCU for fall classes, and their tuition for in-state residents is roughly $10,000. From what I understand from the lady in the financial office, I was billed for fall tuition for one class. :/
11-02-2001, 03:32 PM
6 years ago I moved from Houston TX, to just outside London England. About 4 months ago I got a call from a collection agency asking for over $11,000 owed on an American Express account with an Austin TX address. It turns out somebody in Texas got my name and Social Security number and opened several store, gas, and AmEx cards in my name. I also got a bill for cell phone charges of over $1500. I've now got fraud alerts added to all my credit reports so no new cards can be opened.
The bizarre part of it is that the person using the AmEx card actually paid the bills on time for over a year before deciding to try to rip them off.
11-02-2001, 08:20 PM
I've never gotten a bill like the ones described here, but when I was a freshman in college my roommate and I got a bill from the phone company for 35 cents. Neither one of us used that company, so we figured it was from someone who'd lived in that dorm room before us (it was addressed to "resident"). Since the bill was for less than $1, the letter said we could pay it the next month.
We didn't get anywhere when we told the phone company about it, so we just ignored the bill. Every month it came and said we owed 35 cents, and every month it got tossed in the trash. When I lived in that same dorm room during my sophomore year, the bill was still coming, always with the message that we could pay it the next month. Again, we ignored it and it kept coming.
I wouldn't be surprised if someone in East Hall is still getting that same phone bill. :)
11-02-2001, 09:05 PM
When I was married, my wife had a job that paid both salary and commissions. Two years after the big D, I got Fed. and State tax bills for past years. In those years, my X didn't have any withholdings taken on her commissions. The total, with penalties and interest, was $21K.
11-02-2001, 11:28 PM
Fledermaus, your story reminded me of an ambulance story of my own, although in this case, I did owe the company money, but didn't realize it.
I am originally from Maine, but currently live in Idaho. At the time of the ambulance incident I lived just over the Idaho border in Washington State. My husband, son, and I went to Maine on vacation a few years ago. On the last day of the trip my son had a bicycle accident and we drove him directly to the hospital (it wasn't that serious, only some nasty road rash and a few stitches). The doctor that treated our son was worried that he may have had internal injuries and wanted to do an MRI. The closest MRI, however, was located in another hospital across town so my son was transfered by ambulance to the second hospital. After the testing, our son was taken back to the first hospital, patched up, and sent on his way.
We returned home to Washington the following day and, within a few days, I contacted our insurer and let them know that they would be receiving a claim from out of state. Both of the hospitals billed our insurer and were paid. Our policy covers ambulance rides at 100% so I didn't think anything more about it.
Three years later, when we are applying for a mortgage, an unpaid collection shows up on our credit report from the ambulance company in Maine. When I called the company they insisted that our insurer had rejected the claim. After several phone calls and a great deal of frustration it was discovered that the ambulance company had submitted the bill to the Blue Cross office in Maine. To make matters even more confusing, the main offices of both Blue Cross of Idaho and Blue Cross of Maine are each located in cities of the same name. Trying to convey to them that I wanted it sent to the "main" office of Blue Cross in Idaho as opposed to the "main" office of Blue Cross in Maine was extremely frustrating. I actually had to spell the words "main" and "Maine" to the woman on the telephone so she could understand what I was talking about. When she finally got it there was a long pause in the conversation followed by an "OH!! I get it!"
p.s. From one lurker/newbie to another, Welcome Fledermaus
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