I was reminded of this experience by a fellow AR'er who blogged about never using Lending Tree..Don't ask me what lead me from there to here...too much work...too much thinking...free associating...bad experiences...bad relationships...what next? Oh, the story...here it is:
About a year ago, I received a message indicating that I needed to call an 1-800 number back as the issue was urgent. I tried high and low to do a reverse search to determine the source of the call, but was ultimately unsuccessful. I gave in and contacted this ‘no-name caller’. The call was in response to an account that was about to be submitted to the credit reporting agencies. I knew, not only did I not have any accounts in poor standing, but I never received services from the origination of this unpaid debt. Little did they realize my ‘fighting demon’ was unleashed by their ‘nonsense.
I was a bit surprised at first when the collection agency knew the last 4-digits of my social security number, my fist + last name and my current address. Resolving this issue was a time-consuming process, but I’ll summarize the steps taken to ‘protect myself’
Interactions with the Source of the unpaid account
- Contacted the source of the unpaid service
- Requested to speak with three levels of management until I reach the company’s ‘Executive Problem Resolution Department’ (..and boy did this take effort)
- Used my knowledge of corporate culture and the knowledge that publicly traded companies often adhere to the matra ‘the customer is always right’ to get this matter resolved
- Did not at any point in time give them any personal information as the position of the collector was that the company gave it to them. If this was true, they did not need me to provide it to them did they? This did not stop them from asking though.
Interactions with the Collection Agency- Questions Posed:
- When did this debt get sent into collection and why after 5 ½ years am I only now receiving my first call about this?
- How did they find me with such a common name?
- Were my conversations with them being recorded?
- Are they saying (knowing the conversation was being recorded) the original debt holder provided them with my unique personal identifying information? (I knew this not to be true)
- Were they merging cross-referenced files (there-by mixing accurate information with inaccurate info)?
- How could I get this resolved so that it does not effect my credit report?
There final response before my final recourse was, “If you’re concerned about this effecting your credit report, you can always pay off the debt."
I’ll soon post what was my final response to them and what I learned from my experience with this debt collector that can be invaluable.