I just got off the phone with a bill collector.
See, when we were doing well we signed up of one of those camp grounds.
What we didn’t realise was that they take out a loan to pay for your membership, and that you are paying the loan off, and not a memembership outright.
So, as most of you know, by my constant bringing it up, that my son was hit by a car, and the woman got off scot-free, and we are footing the hospital bills.
Well, we had to cut back on a few expenses that we could no longer afford. That was one of them.
First off we couldn’t afford it, and second we have never used it since he was in a body cast and wheel chair all summer. It was useless.
Now they are going to sue us, and I was told that if I was lying about my son, or if they found out that we had a credit card we could use, we could face jail time for fraud.
People default on loans all the time. How were we to know that this would happen.
Yeah, I learned a lesson, always read the fine print. I had no idea that we couldn’t back out if the need arose. And I think that is a pretty damn good reason. It wasn’t like we just said “naw, we don’t want to do this anymore”
Can they do this?
I mean they called and threatened me on Christmas Eve, while I was worried about scrapping up money to get my kids one or two toys to open in the morning.
Somedays I hate my life. I want to crawl in a hole and die!
I just got off the phone with a bill collector.
You need to check out the federal Fair Debt Collection Act.
Kricket, in most states, you can request that the company only communicate with you by mail, and they aren’t allowed to harrass or threaten you.
Get on 'em and they’ll back off for a while. Then check your legal options & do it right.
Good luck honey.
Thanks guys! They are more upsetting than anything as if I don’t have enough to worry about.
They keep telling me that they are lawyers and they can do what they are doing.
Thinking about filing bankruptcy anyway because of all this. (I mean everything including this)
Kinda shitty when you are the victim, and you lose your job, have bills out the ass, and have health problems related to the crime, and there is nothing you can do.
There is a special place for these people, and it isn’t a nice one.
Tell them to go fuck themselves.
Creditors shouldn’t be able to fool you with any kind of Gestapo crap. If you come right out and tell them, and especially inform them in writing, that you are NOT going to pay them because you cannot afford to do so at this time and that you do not wish to be contacted by any collections department or anyone else for that matter than they will either
A) leave you alone
B) pursue legal action as provided by local and federal regualtions
However, most companies will not actually go through with any litigation since it costs them way too much to do so. It’s like this:
“Hmmm. Mrs. Kricket owes us 10,000. In order to litigate this case, we would have to spend about 20,000. I don’t think we’ll bother. Rather, we’ll charget the account off, lump it into the tax cut, and call it good. This will affect her credit rating, so that should be good enough for our vengeance.”
While it is true that this will affect your credit rating, the way I look at it is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Besides, once you have a shitty credit rating, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, you know?
Personally I have horrid credit. Some bill collector calls me and says “If you don’t pay this, it will adversely affect your credit rating.”
GASP! OH NO! Not that! I have enough credit to purchase a toaster right now! If this affects my credit rating, I won’t be able to finance that new pack of gum I’ve been eyeing! Please, no, have a heart! Don’t affect my credit rating!
However, based on the above, I am the last person you would want to take financial advice from. Further, all my advice is uninformed, baseless conjecture and you should take it well salted. If you want some REAL advice, read the following:
Contact your legal advisor, if you have one. They should be able to review the contract you signed and find any loopholes. Further, they should be able tell you whether you can be held legally liable for any of the costs. Also, they can send a letter to the company, asking them to refer any and all correspondence to their firm as they will be handling the situation for you.
Even if you don’t have a lawyer, there are several people you can talk to that can help you. I suggest starting at your local library and going from there. The internet makes a good place too.
This http://www.ftc.gov is a good place to start. From there, you can learn about your rights, and learn how to act on them. Further, you can see just how powerful your rights can be as a consumer.
In any case, you do not have to take this sort of shit from creditors, and you do have recourse in the event that they fuck up. You want an example of a fuck up?
From the above website:
Were I you, I would begin to record every phone call from them. This is legal for you to do on your own phone line as long as you clearly state before recording that you are going to do so. You need not gain their consent, they only need to be aware that the conversation is being recorded. In any case, if they say that you will face jail time, it implies that you will be arrested. At the very least it implies intention of legal action. Were I you, I research this further.
Also, if they are telling you that they are lawyers and they are not, that is another no-no:
Remember, this is all (quoted sections) from the Federal Trade Commision Government website. Start there, you can’t go wrong. In the unlikely event that there is anything I can do, please let me know.
If you have the ability to record any of these conversations, do it. Be sure to advise them AS SOON AS YOU KNOW IT’S THEM ON THE PHONE that you are recording the call for possible future litagation. If they keep harassing you, report them to your state Attorney General’s office.
If you do file bankruptcy, don’t sweat the aftermath too much. After a year or so, you will find that you can still get credit for major purchases. You might pay higher interest, but credit will be available. I bought a house within two years of filing for bankruptcy and a new car two years later. I have talked to others with similar stories. The law is there to provide help to people who find themselves in desparate circumstances—use that law if you need to.
Sorry about your son. I didn’t hear about that.
Definitely fight them, and tell them to do their worst. It’s not going to be worth it to them to sue you if the amount isn’t that much. It’ll just mess up your credit rating a little if you don’t pay.
I would also do the recording, since they’re not allowed to threaten you like that with arrest and jail time. I bet that as soon as you say “I’m recording this call”, they’ll have a change of attitude.
Also try and get them to send you a letter, then have a lawyer check it out. I used to work for a hospital billing firm and we had a poorly written debt letter that people could sue us for sending to them (even if the debt was correct). Sort of like when a telemarketer calls you after you request to be taken of the list. They sound like a mom & pop debt collector so chances are their letters are not legally correct. I think it was something like a few hundred dollars penalty too.
The letters that they send out are from a law firm representing the camp ground.
And Lexicon, my credit is like yours if not worse, so that isn’t one of my concerns.
This campground was supposed to be a way for our family to spend some much needed time together, and now it is only causing hubby and I to fight every time the phone rings.
The last call, the lady did tell me that when I got my income tax that I should pay or else. I think she has mob connections the way she sounded.
“Avoiding my call is not the answer, there will be consquences!”
I am starting to get worried about my knee caps. And concrete shoes aren’t very becomming.
I know that they have probably heard every excuse under the sun and that has probably made them hard to any others.
Do you know that they don’t even use their real names? Some of them anyway. Just in case they really piss someone off and they come after them. My sisters boyfriend used to run a collection agency. He helped keep them off my back for a while, and actually got the hospital to write a few of thiers off. Good guy until he started stalking my sister when she tried to break up with him. Must be in the blood or something.
Sorry guys, first I cry and then I rant, and then I get a weird sense of humor. Just the way I deal with stress.
You have all been helpful and thank you for the site Lexicon.
And c-goat, there is a thread around here somewhere from May from when my son was hit. Quite a shitty situation, that I still cannot rant here about for fear of being to vulgur and cruel in my statements. That is how much anger I still feel for that woman. (for lack of a better term) I think the thread is My son was in and accident.
Hey, Kricket, how much money are we talking about here? Is it more than 10 grand? If not, don’t give it a second thought. The worst that can happen to you is a poor credit rating. Even if it’s over 10 grand, that’s pretty much all that’s gonna happen to you. (not that a bad credit rating is something to sneeze at)
The collection agents sound a bit overzealous, not to mention full of shit. The campgrounds already sees the debt as uncollectable and will eventually write it off. They turn the contract over to an agency because they have nothing to lose, and it’s possible that they’ll get paid.
They’re not going to sue you because it would cost them more than they can get out of it. A jury would be on your side, anyway. Tell them to stop calling, and get an answering machine and start screening your calls.(buy extra tapes so you can save harrassing messages that they leave, including things they are’nt allowed to say.)
They’re blowing smoke. That’s all.
Kricket, is there a Consumer Credit Counseling agency in your area? They can get your creditors off your back. They’re free, they can help. Their counselors know how collection agencies operate, and they’re experienced in dealing with them. They help you figure out what you can pay toward your debts, and they’ll negotiate with your creditors, sometimes getting the debt reduced.
Sounds like this loan sharking-campground thing is breaking a few rules. Threats? If you’re feeling afraid, they’re doing something illegal, I’ll betcha.
Another option would be Chapter 11. I have a friend who used to pay her AmEX with her Visa (just like the tee shirt says). She filed Chapter 11 (she had already done a bankruptcy so that was out). The court managed her money until she was debt free. Creditors were not allowed to call or write. I think it saved her from a nervous breakdown.
There’s help available, Kricket. Use it. Get those bastards off your family’s back.
Worst case scenario – they sue, get a judgment, and garnish your earnings. You don’t need that. Stop them before it gets that far. If they think you’re scared, they’re smelling blood. Have they asked if you can borrow money from family to pay them? That’ll be next. Scumbags.
And don’t be nice – it just encourages them.
Bill collectors can come after people who have great credit and good financial situations too.
I went to the ER for an insulin reaction two years ago, and the Hospital sent my bill to the wrong address. They were able to bill my insurance for most of it, but there was a $70 outstanding balance. After several months, I finally get a threatening letter from a collection agency.
Wherein they tell me that not only will they pursue legal action against me, but that my “credit rating will be severely negatively impacted.” I don’t think so - my credit rating is so high the bank said they had never seen one like mine. And the irony is, I had nearly 200 times the bill in savings. Yet, they didn’t care - they started right from the get-go threatening.
So I never paid it. Out of spite. Instead, I paid the hospital, not the collection agency. You see, the hospital had turned the debt over to the agency - and the agency, if they collect, turn back a fraction (I think it was 50%) to the hospital. I owed the hospital money, so I went up and paid. So I thought - “OK, all done.”
Nope. First, the collection agency denied that I had paid the hospital. I faxed them my receipt - they accused me of faking it. I faxed them my cancelled check. No response, other than another letter claiming I was “headed for court”. I asked the hospital to “call off the dogs” - they said it was out of their control.
Finally, I got a lawyer. Who told me that we should file a harassment suit against them, and that it would be open-and-shut. Thus we documented everything, and sent a letter.
They were silent for a month, then responded with a terse statement that the matter was dropped. Oh no, my friends. The lawyer sent back a letter demanding my $70 back, and all his legal fees, or we were going to file suit. One month later, a check comes - for the legal fees, not the $70. Finally, we send a last letter, with amended legal fees, and the $70 demand again. Two months later, they pay. No letter, no explanation - just a check in an envelope.
Most satisfying. And it didn’t end up costing me anything, except a lot of uncompensated time and worry.
A comment and a question:
Once a creditor turns over a lawful debt to a collection agency, then that agency will receive its contracted share of the monies collected regardless of to whom you pay it (in this case, if you pay the hospital, the hospital has to turn over the contracted share to the collection agency). I learned this back when I worked for a collection agency (clerical, I wasn’t a collector).
What do you mean “got off scot-free?” Did your child run in front of the car & it wasn’t the driver’s fault? Then, that’s not “scot-free.” It’s innocent. If she purposely ran down the child, then it’s assault with a deadly weapon, at the least.
Want to really get their goat ? Send them a money order for $1.00 each and every month. If you do this you are trying to pay your debt, it will take a tiny amount off each month and drive them insane in the process.
I had some collectors get on my case like that once. I did what everyone here has told you to do, I started telling them I was recording the calls and was only informing them as a curtsey (In Texas on one party in a phone conversation has to know the call is being recorded ) . And then I told them on tape not to ever call my home or place of employment again and that if they did so I would sue their ass’ off !
I would add that the threats have upset you so badly that you are unable to sleep for fear of them coming to your home and harming your family or yourself. And that if you have to seek medical care and/or counseling due to this fear , they will recieve the bill. Assholes.
Thank heavens your wages can only be attached in this state by the government or for child support. They can’t do it for any other debts.
That may be true, and standard operating procedure. However, the hospital did not do so. Which is why the collector came after me. And they lost.
I don’t practice debt collection, and this is not an area of law I’m terribly familiar with, but for what it’s worth:
I second the idea that you familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A more specific link to the Act itself is http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpajump.htm
The FDCPA is designed to protect people such as you who are feeling harassed in the collection of a bill they cannot pay, so take the time to read it – it will tell you both what you can do, and what the collector cannot do.
Specifically, the act provides:
In other words, if you notify them in writing to stop communicating with you, then they must do so. That should at least stop the letters and phone calls, though they will at a minimum wreck your credit and might file suit against you, depending on the amount we’re talking about. The Act also provides that the debt collector may not engage in harassing behavior, which they appear to be doing in this case.
If you want to try to work things out, you can write, include copies of your son’s medical bills, and ask that they defer payment for now, or signifcantly reduce payment for now, and that you will continue to pay what little you can or start paying again when you can. If we’re talking about a product or service you don’t really want anyway, though, and you’re not all that concerned about your credit rating, you can just write and tell them jump off a cliff.
BTW, a creditor has no right to demand that you use your tax refund – or any other disposable money you might have – to pay them instead of another creditor. If you owe to several unsecured creditors (unsecured meaning the debt is not based on some collateral they can take in the event of non-payment, like a house secures a mortgage), then you have the right to decide who you will pay, and in what order and they have no right to demand to be bumped to the head of the line.
The FDCPA also provides that collectors can be assesses TRIPLE DAMAGES if they violate it. So read it; knowledge is power.
Good luck; I hope your son is doing okay.
Best of luck to you. Stick to your principles, DO NOT get afriad, and all will be well.
I am lucky enough to have a great credit rating, but last year I learned just how easily these assholes can try to mess it up. OPEX/PremierCom overcharged me by a factor close to 10x for my long distance phone service over a 4 or 5 month period. This was an accounting system error on their part, which they were quite open about and kinda tried to fix, but by then had a system too messed up to get it right. A year later I was still getting letters demanding $350. In fact I reckon they still owe ME about $60.
An agency started writing nasty letters, and my response was to bury them in legitimate paperwork, proving the claim was bullshit. Still the threats came every week, including calls to my home. Eventually, I sent them a letterheaded invoice for my wasted time. The agency wrote back six weeks later saying the claim had been dropped, but only after I called them several times asking for closure.
Long story. The point is, you do not have to do what these scumbags want. Tell them to eat shit and die, and usually they will leave you alone. To echo a comment by another poster, “being nice only encourages them”, this is totally true. Be brave with them and you WILL win - above all don’t ever start to play their game.
Best of luck to you, I hope you succeed and your family is soon restored to health.
Uh, Monty, she hit my son in a parking lot while speeding to get her well-fare check cashed. The reason she was not charged with anything is because it is private property.
She had no license and no insurance. Her statements after hitting my son was “oh my god I don’t have a license, and Doesn’t he know it’s the third of the month and I’m here to cash my check.”
I would post the link, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. (I know, I really should learn)
She was totally at fault. No lawyer will sue her since she had no insurance and has no money, and I can’t afford to pay 200 and some odd dollars to get a lawyer to sue her on my own. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bill collectors after me if I could.
And yeah, I know they come after you even if you have good credit and such. Money hungry bastards.
It sucks being broke and having people make you feel like a criminal for it.
Kricket, I’ve no idea where you live; however, if something of that sort happened in California, it doesn’t matter if it’s on private property or not. The fact (going by your account) is that she hit your son with the vehicle. Parking lots in this town and the towns near it have speed limit signs. If you can’t get a lawyer to take the case “pro bono” (for free), you can agitate strongly, very strongly, with the DA’s office to get the woman charged with a crime–this keeps it out of civil court. Another good option is to boycott the store. Nothing like a whole town’s worth of parents to shock a store into doing the right thing.
Definitely tape every conversation, telling them that you are doing so. Get a lawyer and counter sue for mental distress, etc. Build your case. You might soon own a campground…