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Got a letter from debt collector

Discussion in 'Consumer Fraud & Scams' started by Miller M, May 6, 2021.

  1. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi everyone, I have received a letter from a debt collector a couple Of days ago at my P.O. Box that showed a balance due from the original creditor AT&T U-Verse, almost $1000 but it says on the letter that they are authorized to resolve “My” account for less than the full balance for a payoff amount 680.00 The debt collector doing business as ERC/Enhanced Resource Centers/Enhanced Recovery Company.Upon reading the letter a few times I googled up the phone number provided in the letter. I came across with a lot of people mentioning that company as a scam and also a few of the comments I saw was in fact for the same reason at&t u-verse. This account is not mine I have never use or have ever ordered any at&t products or services. So after a day of doing research on company ERC I decided to go ahead and do a credit check and sure enough on my experian credit report shows that I have an Account Review Inquiry from at&t u-verse On December of 2019 and also an Account Review Inquiry from the debt collector Enhanced Resource Centers/ERC dated April/27/2021. So the next step I have done is contact the original creditor via a phone call to see if the account number provided on the letter was in fact a valid account, after being transferred to one department to another for 30 mins I end up at the identity theft department. I explain to the person I was on the phone with that the account wasn’t mine and I have no services or contracts with at&t. Then she asked me for the account number on the letter and my name and my last four of my social. And she said it was a match! And again I said that that account wasn’t mine At all. Then I asked when and where the account was originated and she gave me a city and the street name only where all this started and I explain to her that I never lived in that city at all. And the lady at at&t told me that the account was opened in December 2019 and closed in March 2020. But a year and a half later I am getting this letter that has my name on it.

    The weird thing is that if the account was opened more than a year ago and that account has a due balance, how come is not showing as a delinquent account on my credit report? my credit report is in good standing and I need to take action before this gets worst! Can Any one point me in the right direction to start resolving this matter?

    Also the person at at&t ask me that what address the letter was sent to, I gave her the P.O. Box number and she asked me for my phone number in case we get disconnected… and after putting me on hold for a couple of minutes she told me she couldn’t find nothing with that P.O. Box address that she needed my residence address, and I declined to provide it, simply I felt not giving any more personal information at that particular time because I felt they will add that information to this whole situation and make it stick! and she then told me that In order to start an investigation I needed to provide my Residence Address to investigate where I currently live and where the fraud occurred (The city she mentioned) by talking to relatives, employers, etc etc. So I said to her that I can not provide more information at this time but if I do I will give them a call back then she said I can’t help with out your residence address to proceed with an investigation in regards of this fraudulent/identity theft situation she said.

    I have dealt with something similar where someone used my card number and make purchases and I have disputed and resolved it. but this is someone using my personal information.


    Also on my research I have learned that ERC has a lot of complaints in regards of situations like mine even with the same at&t u-verse company.

    I need to know what steps to take next, as I have 30 days to dispute this debt in writing, even knowing that I already contacted the original creditor and I have not contacted the collection Agency yet.

    Someone used my name and social to open that account with them. I believe I am a victim of identity theft!


    Thanks For reading.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Write a letter (not email) and send it to them stating that you dispute the debt. If you'd like, you can add a little information, such as the fact that you've never had that service and you've never lived in and don't know anyone who lives in that city.
     
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  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I agree that a letter is appropriate without providing any more information than they already have or that you have already given.

    Also read the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act so you can quote appropriate parts of it as needed.

    https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/plain-language/fair-debt-collection-practices-act.pdf
     
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  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Perhaps you've been VICTIMIZED by the same party responsible for the previous SCAM???

    As suggested by Messrs. @Zigner and @adjusterjack, write a letter to ERC informing them of the previous incident and your suspicions about the debt under discussion.

    Inform ERC how and where to contact the SUSPECT, that should get the monkey off your back, stopping the scratching and biting.

    Once bitten, twice shy!

     
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  5. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for all the input, I will be sending the letter via certified mail tomorrow disputing this account/debt. But before I do so I have a few questions for you guys. In the letter should I sign and date it OR Full name and date it. Or all of the above?

    Also I was thinking that since I already talked to the original creditor (at&t) but I never heard the person at at&t say “there is a debt owed on this account” because I mentioned that I received a letter with a balance due from ERC and that the letter has an account number and that I never had their services, so I believe I kind of overwhelmed her (at&t representative) with the “someone stole my identity” and that’s when she asked me for my name and account number then my last 4 of my social, then she just told me where the account was originated and the date the account was open and closed (only 3 months). So I don’t recall she mentioning a debt owed she maybe was only hearing me about my identity being stolen and she needed to start an investigation, could ERC making up a debt to see if it sticks?

    Because the account was opened December 2019 and closed March 2020 so is a bit strange it took at&t 13 months to send the account to a debt collection agency. I have been in debt before years ago (but not any more) and I remember getting collection letters on the third or fourth month after not making a payment to an account, But this is just fishy getting this letter one of a sudden and mostly reading all the complaints about ERC!. Should I contact at&t again just to confirm if there is in fact a debt or ? Before I send out the letter to ERC?

    Also I will be contacting the credit bureaus when it comes to my identity theft and to remove any activity/accounts on my credit reports that I didn’t request. Such as at&t.

    I’m a bit stress out about this situation and work (7days a week). My apologies if I sound repetitive.


    Thanks once more..
     
  6. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Update: I have Received a response from the debt collector, after writing them a letter of validation of debt/dispute. They sent me a copy of a billing statement dated May of last year, in that statement I can see my name and it has a star (*) symbol at the end of the first name (jhon* Doe) and an address I have never lived on, same for the city. The star símbol appears only on the at&t billing statement and not in the debt collector letter, In their response they basically are showing me the statement and the amount owed and on the letter they are providing me with a phone number to call to the agent handling this matter and if I have any questions to call them. So right now I’m indecisive if I should call them or write another letter via certified mail saying:

    ERC: I’m in receipt of your response (reference number) in regards of my dispute letter…. After reviewing the information you provided it shows that on the billing statement the first name on the account it ends with a star (*) symbol, also I have never lived or know anyone in that city (name of the city and address) perhaps you should contact the person at the address shown in the billing statement. I have never opened an account for services and/or signed any agreement/contract with at&t/at&t uverse.


    Let me know how this sounds or should I worded different. Or call them


    Thanks again in advance.
    Mike…
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If you are going to claim identity theft, you need to report it to the police. They will likely do very little, but push them to, at the very least, provide you with a report/incident number. You can then advise the collector that you have reported the identity theft. Beyond that, there's not much you can do. I suspect they will drop the matter, but keep an eye out for any notices, etc. Also, and you may have done this already, you need to notify the credit agencies of the identity theft and consider having them place a fraud warning on your file. This may cause you a little extra work when you apply for credit in the future because you will have to verify with them that such applications are legitimate.
     
  8. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for your reply, I will definitely claim identity theft. And do those steps you just mentioned. Should I reply to their letter in writing and attached the incident report documents from the police? Or call them and tell them what I just wrote earlier in this post and also advise them of me being a victim of identity theft and that I will be filling an Incident report with the police?

    Also, the letter they just sent me is dated May 26,2020. But I received the letter this past Monday, June 24. Is there any deadline to respond again like another 30 days? Because in the initial contact from ERC they gave me 30 days to respond in writing to dispute it. (Which I did respond before the 30 day mark)

    I just found it weird that they put a date on the letter (late May) but mailed it off to me almost 2 weeks later.. (mid June).

    Thanks again..
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The dates don't matter. Once you ask, they are required to cease all collection activity until they respond appropriately. That's what they did.

    I'd notify them in writing that you have filed a police report for identity theft and offer the report number. I honestly don't think they will pursue it much further, as it's a relatively small amount and they have little chance of collecting from you.
     
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  10. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    update:

    Over this past weekend I got my FTC identity theft report with a report number. Today Monday I went to my local police department and I explained my situation and they asked me if I knew the person that used my information and I responded “No I don’t ” therefore they told me that since I don’t know who used my personal information I need to file a report trhu their website only. So I did submit my report online and is pending as of right now and it can take up 2 weeks to get a response from them to either get a case/report number or to be rejected and the reason why it was rejected. Now since it has been more than a week since a received the response from ERC in regards to my letter of dispute/validation they received. What would be best for me to do I mean to be pro active in this matter? Should I sent The debt collector a letter saying I have filed a report with the FTC (provide them with the report number or just say I have filed it? BUT now, since I don’t have no case/report number YET from my local police department I don’t know if the FTC should be sufficient for now to get them off my back and for them (the debt collector) might assume I am ignoring their latest response while I wait for my police case number. I’m just trying like I said to be pro active in this matter. That’s why Im debating if I should send them a letter saying:
    That I have never lived in that city and/or address or know anyone and that I don’t own or have any accounts with at&t U-Verse therefore this account isn’t mine. And lastly I have seen on your reply “Zigner” that I can offer them my police report number but I don’t have one yet and i don’t if I’ll get one in a timely manner.


    “” I'd notify them in writing that you have filed a police report for identity theft and offer the report number. I honestly don't think they will pursue it much further, as it's a relatively small amount and they have little chance of collecting from you.[/QUOTE] “”



    Thanks once more!
    Mike M.
     
  11. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I forgot to mention if I am not mistaken you can ask for verification and/validation but not at the same time. Because in their response letter they wrote as follows:

    “Re: Dispute and/or Validation Request”

    If I am not mistaken I asked for verification but I am confused as why they wrote validation instead of verification..


    This is what I wrote to them on my letter:


    Page 1 of 3

    May 17, 2021


    My name :

    My address:






    ERC

    Enhanced Recovery Company

    P.O. Box ****

    Jacksonville, FL 32241

    Re: Account Number: *******

    Reference Number: ******







    Dear ERC:


    · I am responding to your contact about a debt you are trying to collect. You contacted me by mail on April 28, 2021 and identified the debt as an unpaid balance with AT&T. Please supply the information below so that I can be fully informed:

    Why you think I owe the debt and to whom I owe it, including:



    • The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed.



    • If this debt started with a different creditor, provide the name and address of the original creditor, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed to that creditor at the time it was transferred. When you identify the original creditor, please provide any other
    name by which I might know them, if that is different from the official name. In addition, tell me when the current creditor obtained the debt and who the current creditor obtained it from.




    Page 2 of 3





    • Provide verification and documentation that there is a valid basis for claiming that I am required to pay the debt to the current creditor. For example, can you provide a copy of the written agreement that created my original requirement to pay?



    • If you are asking that I pay a debt that somebody else is or was required to pay, identify that person. Provide verification and documentation about why this is a debt that I am required to pay.



    The amount and age of the debt, including:



    • A copy of the last billing statement sent to me by the original creditor.



    • State the amount of the debt when you obtained it, and when that was.



    • If there have been any additional interest, fees or charges added since the last billing statement from the original creditor, provide an itemization showing the dates and amount of each added amount. In addition, explain how the added interest, fees or other charges are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or are permitted by law.



    • If there have been any payments or other reductions since the last billing statement from the original creditor, provide an itemization showing the dates and amount of each of them.


    • If there have been any other changes or adjustments since the last billing statement from the original creditor, please provide full verification and documentation of the amount you are trying to collect. Explain how that amount was calculated. In addition, explain how the other changes or adjustments are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.



    • Tell me when the creditor claims this debt became due and when it became delinquent.



    Page 3 of 3







    • Identify the date of the last payment made on this account.



    • Have you made a determination that this debt is within the statute of limitations applicable to it? Tell me when you think the statute of limitations expires for this debt, and how you determined that.



    Details about your authority to collect this debt.



    • I would like more information about your firm before I discuss the debt with you. Does your firm have a debt collection license from my state? If not, say why not. If so, provide the date of the license, the name on the license, the license number, and the name, address and telephone number of the state agency issuing the license.


    I have asked for this information because I have some questions. I need to hear from you to make an informed decision about your claim that I owe this money. I am open to communicating with you via mail only for this purpose. In order to make sure that I am not put at any disadvantage, in the meantime please treat this debt as being in dispute and under discussion between us.







    Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely,

    My name.”

    ————

    After a few weeks they sent me a validation letter which includes a billing statement with an issue date: May 16, 2020 and with my name on it but a (*) start symbol right after the last letter of the first name. Also the Address linked to the account. A city/address I never lived on. I assume In order to get services from AT&T you must signed some documents after they installed their equipment at your Residence and/or business…It seems that they never returned some receivers (4 of them) $150 per non-returned reciever. That’s all it shows on the billing statement they provided to me and it looks like it was the last statement because the past bill was already past due. They didn’t provide to me with any documentation showing payments made to the account it seems like someone used my personal information to get AT&T services , never made a payment then moved out and took all equipment with them.
     
  12. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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  13. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Verification and validation in this context pretty much means the same thing.

    While you are certainly free to ask for all that information, just understand that under federal and California law the debt collector is not obligated to provide a lot of what you requested. The federal government does not license debt collectors, though many states do require debt collectors to be licensed. California only recently enacted its licensing law for debt collectors, but that law will not be effective until 2022. So at the moment, debt collectors in California are not required to have a license and it appears that even if they applied for one today they'd not get the license until sometime in 2022.

    Under federal and California law you may notify the collector in writing that you refuse to pay the debt and tell the collector to cease its communications with you. Once the debt collector has received that notice it must not contact you about the debt any longer except to notify you of steps that it WILL take (not just that MIGHT take) to collect the debt, e.g. sending you a notice that it will file a lawsuit to collect the debt. That should take care of most of the bothersome letters and phone calls from the collector.
     
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  14. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    So I should send them a letter saying what I just explained on the previous post and to cease all communications?and advised them that I have filed an identity theft report with the FTC ?


    -Mike
     
  15. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    If you want to send the letter asking the collector to cease communications I suggest keeping it very simple. You just state that they are to stop all communications about this debt. I wouldn't add any explanations or anything else. The federal Consumer Finance Protection Board has a sample letter for you to use for just that purpose. Note that the file is in Microsoft Word .doc format.
     
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  16. Miller M

    Miller M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Response deleted by request of author.

    Request responsibly addressed by: AJ, delighting, entertaining, amusing, and serving our millions of users for years.
     

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