How to deal with a debt collection agency, or a hired lawyer when you've been out of the loop for a long time?

Asked over 1 year ago - Albany, OR

Hey there,
So straight to the point, Several years ago when i was in college, i set up a checking account that must've came with a credit card. I, Unwittingly mustve used if for a small amount of time, and thinking i had paid it all off, tried to close the account. Well apparently there was still somewhere in the range of 30-50 dollars not yet paid off. Now, 3 years later, and basically no real income or employment in that time, a debt collection agency has contacted me saying i owe them almost $1300. I tried to arrange a payment plan that i could afford, but the representative on the phone said that unless i can pay 250 a month, i have to just wait until one of their lawyers contacts me. What do i do, the debts getting bigger each day!

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Amy Elizabeth Clark Kleinpeter

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Did you request documentation supporting this $1300 claim? It sounds like fees for an account which you thought you had closed -- this is not uncommon.

    I would not recommend you pay a dime until you get written confirmation of this debt. That does not mean any collector "owes" you pages and pages showing every charge! Just that at this point, your story is that a debt of $50 has, in 3 years, become $1300. That sounds odd, doesn't it?

    Have you gotten a written debt collection letter from this collection agency? It should come within 5 days of their first contact (the phone call, apparently). If it does not, that is a violation of law but, to be honest, it is easy for those letters to be mailed to old addresses, especially for people just out of school.

    I would recommend writing the collection agency and requesting validation of the debt. Be clear that you honestly do not know why this debt is owed and you would like their help in understanding -- no need to be a jerk about it or use legal language. Just ask for validation.

    If they continue to contact you after getting the letter and before providing the validation, again that is likely a violation of law.

    If the collectors continue their threatening tones and do not validate, or if you are sued, you can find a local lawyer on National Association of Consumer Advocate's website.

    Best of luck to you!

    The above statements are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or... more
  2. Tim L Eblen

    Contributor Level 13

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Is this the only debt you have hanging out there?

    If not, seek out a consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney. They can help you evaluate your overall situation.

    Tim L. Eblen
    www.eblenfreed.com

  3. Dorothy G Bunce

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I hate to sound like a shill, but my colleague, Charles Smith, in Ohio has written a wonderful article on settling credit card debt that I highly recommend. The link is below. Hope this perspective helps!

  4. Jennifer M Spiegel Colson

    Contributor Level 6

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with 100% with Amy's answer. I would only add the website to the National Association of Consumer Attorneys. The website is naca.net.

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