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SaraEllen McCay Hutchison

SaraEllen Hutchison’s Answers

5 total

  • Can Colorado State Fair come to me personally for payment- company is dissolved since 2005-- received letter aug 2013

    I negotiated a booth at CSF in 2004- contract was for 3 yrs- called and said we wouldn't be interested for 2005. Company dissolved years ago-- received a letter this month saying I owe 10,000 for 2005 because i didn't let them know in writing tha...

    SaraEllen’s Answer

    A number of things could be going on here. I don't know what else this letter says, but it may be from some third party and not the Colorado State Fair. Whether that third party who sent the letter is an actual business that purchased the debt or a scam artist who somehow got a hold of a list of accounts would require inspection of the letter and additional research.

    To the extent the debt is legitimate, this a business debt and not a consumer debt, so you would not have the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to help you. That said, you should check your credit report and see if some entity is furnishing data to the consumer reporting agencies (the credit bureaus) that inaccurately states that this is your personal debt. If there is something inaccurate in the credit reporting you should dispute it in writing to the credit bureaus to trigger your consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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  • I live in washingtonI have a $1,400 hospital bill in collections. can they garnish my wages if I cant afford their payment plan?

    when I was in the emergency room for 20 minutes, the dr. didn't use any tools. he told me to open my mouth, and looked at my throat. said I had strep and wrote me a prescription. now they want me to pay $1400 for the hospital visit and $400 for a ...

    SaraEllen’s Answer

    That sounds awful!

    I would add to the answers above that if you did not have insurance at the time of that hospital visit and you are low income, or your individual financial circumstances make this $1800 bill a real hardship for you, the collection agency must permit you to apply for Charity Care RCW 70.170 and WAC 246-453. Charity Care is WA state's reduced cost health care statute and regulation. Read more about it here:

    Plus, if they are suddenly "wanting more" or wanting you to sign a stipulation or confession of judgment or something, the collection agency could very well be treating you unfairly or doing something deceptive. If anybody says sign something, get the advice of a lawyer right away to make sure everything is above board.

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  • When can a current landlord report to the credit bureaus?

    I just saw that my landlord reported that I owed $180.00 to him on my credit report for rent. I don't owe him this money and am current on my rent. It looks like it was reported soon after I inquired about moving prior to the end of my lease. It k...

    SaraEllen’s Answer

    If your landlord is furnishing truly incorrect information, you should dispute the incorrect item with the credit reporting agencies. The credit reporting agencies will then have to go back to the furnisher of the information to verify whether the $180 delinquency was accurate or not. Do your disputes in writing, via certified mail, return receipt requested (that's better than using the online dispute forms).

    I don't know what conversation you had with your landlord, but if you are concerned about retaliatory actions you should educate yourself on your rights as a tenant. Included with my answer is a link to a PDF brochure from the Washington State Bar Association on the topic. Good luck.

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  • Does a collection agency have a right to demand monthly payments via direct debit from my personal checking account?

    I recently dismissed a chapter 13 bankruptcy as I felt it wasn't in my best interest, and I received bad legal advice on a related matter. I contacted the agency that purchased my account to set up payment plan. They insisted that they be able to ...

    SaraEllen’s Answer

    From the sparse facts you describe here, this appears to be a debt buyer. I do not advise consumers to provide a debt buyer or collection agency with their bank account, debit card or credit card information, ever, because you might find yourself with a whole lot more leaving your account or charged to your card than you ever agreed to. The fact that they are being so slippery and giving you the run-around tells me that they are trying to confuse you into "agreeing" to pay more. Without more detail I don't know if you are even under a legal obligation to pay this debt, or if they tried to sue you for it they would have sufficient evidence of the debt to win.

    Wanting to pay off debts is a very well-intentioned desire, but if you're in enough debt to consider chapter 13, you may be better off getting legal advice from a competent consumer protection attorney who can go through all your debts and triage what should be paid, settled, disputed, etc. than to try to deal with these bullies on your own if they can't be straightforward with you.

    You should make a written request for verification and validation of the debt and send it via certified mail, return receipt requested. Under WA law, a collection agency is required to provide the known details you list (amount owed, interest rate). This information cannot remain a mystery held closely by the collection agency.

    A collection agency that is doing deceptive and manipulative things to keep you in debt an artificially long time could be liable under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if they are making false or misleading representations about the character and legal status of the debt, or doing other false and misleading things to get information about you.

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  • What action should I take when a collection agency sent me someone else's information.

    I asked for documentation of what I owe, and the collection agency sent me my paperwork and attached someone else's paperwork. This paperwork has all of their information including SSN, bank account numbers... What action should I take or can I...

    SaraEllen’s Answer

    This just goes to show how disorganized many collection agencies can be! You asked for documentation of what YOU owe...and they failed to respond as required by 15 USC §1692g. The response from the collection agency is meaningless to you and deprives you of your right to know what the debt is and if it is yours. If the debt collector here is a debt buyer, I'd consider bringing a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act suit against the debt buyer before they try to sue you for someone else's debt and give you no notice of it. This is not the most egregious FDCPA case in the world.

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