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  1. #1

    Default Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: CO

    A small company with whom I did business sent me a final account statement stating that I owed nothing. The next day they altered that statement by hand to say that I owed several hundred dollars, and sent this altered copy directly to a collections agency.

    When I ask the collections agency to validate the debt, they sent me copies of my original contract with the other company, and copies of the altered bill. This proves nothing, but they won't send me anything else, and aren't convinced when I show them the original account statement. They have now reported this "debt" to the credit bureaus.

    I disputed the item with the credit bureaus, and included a copy of the original account statement, but they validate the debt anyway.

    I'm told that small claims court cannot force someone to remove something from a credit report. Do I have any options to resolve this other than costly litigation?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    If the first statement (showing a zero balance) was issued in error, it doesn't erase the debt. Is that what you're saying happened?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    No, the changing account balance was deliberate. It's a bit of a long story, and the details aren't exactly relevant to my question. The gist is, we really owe nothing and we were deliberately led to believe our balance was zero before the "debt" was sent to collections - I think I could probably prove that to a judge. In fact, the collections agency has changed its story once already about why my account statement differs from the one they got, and one of their two stories includes an admission that the original company generated two different statements deliberately.

    The trouble is none of that seems to matter to the credit bureaus, and I really hope a lawsuit is not my only option.


    Side note:
    If that sort of dishonesty seems out of character for a company, it's worth noting that this company is actually just a single individual with two employees. Unfortunately this sort of thing is very much in character for her, according to other customers I've heard from.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    The story doesn't have to be long: You either have a balance due or you don't. Which is it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    853

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    If the bill has been altered, the collection agency must tell you how the charges that underlie the balance were computed, and what the basis of the charges is.

    Since they sent you the contract, and the balance, and if the balance is in keeping with the contract, then that is legal. If not, it is not. If the balance is not proper, then the only way to enforce it is to sue in Federal court. (I know that state court is an option, but I find state courts to be less receptive to FCRA and FDCPA claims)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    Quote Quoting aaron
    View Post
    The story doesn't have to be long: You either have a balance due or you don't. Which is it?
    I think I answered this question in my previous post, but I will re-summarize: I believe I do not have a balance due. The original company argued with me about whether certain charges were valid. After I showed them evidence that the charges were not valid, they deliberately sent me a paid-in-full statement, and sent a balance-due statement to collections.

    Collections at first claimed that one of the statements was an error (which it was obviously not), then later "explained" that the two differing statements were deliberate.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Collection "Validated" by Altered Bill - Any Options but Litigation

    Quote Quoting divemedic
    View Post
    If the bill has been altered, the collection agency must tell you how the charges that underlie the balance were computed, and what the basis of the charges is.
    I thought that too at first, but I'm learning that "legally must" doesn't seem to mean much to collections unless you go to the effort of enforcing it. Even a letter from our lawyer to collections asking for clarification of the vague, changing balance explanations only got us a snide letter from their lawyer saying it was "perfectly obvious" to him and offering no clarification at all.



    Quote Quoting divemedic
    View Post
    If the balance is not proper, then the only way to enforce it is to sue in Federal court. (I know that state court is an option, but I find state courts to be less receptive to FCRA and FDCPA claims)
    Not the answer I wanted, but thanks.

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