Saturday, May 28, 2005

Way back in March of 2002, I got a letter from a collection agency, claiming I bounced a check to Papa John's the previous month. I knew I didn't write a check to Papa John's, and was particularly surprised that the check was drawn on an account I closed well over a year prior. As I had just moved, I figured it likely that I threw out some paperwork with my old account number, and someone produced counterfeit checks (I would have surely destroyed any checks, but might have been careless with other paperwork, since the account was closed). I wrote to the agency telling them I did not write the check, and would assist them in the fraud investigation. According to the letter they sent, they would contact me within 30 days regarding the debt, but I never heard from them again. So I considered the matter closed.

Today, I get a letter from a New York-based "lawyer" offering me a generous settlement for the outstanding debt. If I send them just $190, they will consider the matter of the $40 bad check closed. So very generous of them, since the most they could collect is triple the amount of the check, $120, plus a $25 fee and court costs. So it might cost me slightly more if I went to court and lost, but they're still asking for more than they would get if they sued me.

What I found galling was the mention of my failure to respond to multiple inquiries regarding the debt. I received exactly one letter, to which I responded, and received no reply. I was worried I might be screwed for not using registered mail, but apparently my failure to reply would not preclude me from denying the debt in court. But I quickly drew up a reply to this letter demanding proof of the debt, and sent it registered mail.

After writing the letter, I started looking around on-line, and had my suspicions confirmed that this collection agency seems to be all about sending out threatening letters and hoping people will just cut them a check. I have a feeling I might not hear from them again. If I do, I think I will just write them again, and demand that they not contact me again. By law, they have to respect my request; the risk of such a request being that, if they are serious, you basically force them to bring a court action against you. But I really don't see a New York firm coming out to San Diego on the off-chance of making $100 or so. But we'll see what happens.

No comments: