Do debt collectors take payment through eBay?
January 7, 2009 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I got an automated call from a debt collection agency which told me to pay through eBay. Is this a scam?

I've recently gotten a couple of automated calls from a debt collection agency (IC System). They gave me a reference number and told me to either call them back, or pay them through eBay. This last bit seems fishy to me; why would they use eBay to collect on a debt? AFAIK, I owe no money to/through eBay.

Incidentally, I do owe some money in unpaid parking tickets, so I think this might be legit. But the eBay thing has thrown me off. Plus, I tried to look up my reference number on IC System's own website, and it didn't turn up anything.

So what gives? And is it too late for me to settle my parking tickets directly with city hall?
posted by ambulatorybird to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pay nothing through eBay.

Call City Hall and find out if you're in collections. If so, have them tell you who the agency is that's collecting for them and the citation numbers.

Call back the collection agency (if it's the same one) and ask what the specific debt is on which they are trying to collect. If they're legit they will tell you it's the parking tickets and should know the ticket numbers (or at least, the municipality where they were issued).
posted by DWRoelands at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2009

Seconding DWR.

Call through a number that you find by searching, not the provided number they gave you over the phone. I'm sure you thought of that, but just stating in case you didn't.
posted by wile e at 9:31 AM on January 7, 2009

Colletions agencies love to just randomly search and assign debt to addresses/phone numbers. I recently got a collections notice in the mail with the name on the accounts only match to me being my first name. A quick call to them confirmed that the last four of the debtors social security number did not match mine (never give them yours, make them give you theirs) and so I alerted them they had the wrong guy and to not send me any more correspondence or I would file harassment charges.

It's pretty common for collection agencies to run identity searches pretty loosely and just run down the names. It costs them next to nothing to do this and I'll bet they get some well meaning folks that just send a check without making sure the debt is their's.
posted by wavering at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

I once had IC System on my case for a mystery eBay debt. Turns out my unused account had been hacked and was used to sell a certain obscure item a few times while racking up a debt of $80 (I think the sales were fake, just a way to withdraw the money from eBay). Anyway, IC System said I had to go through eBay to get the debt recalled if it was fraudulent -- all the collections people can do is accept payment and annoy the hell out of you. So eBay's security people got it marked as fraud and eventually recalled the debt from IC System.

I think my eBay account even read as a balance of zero when I went to check on the debt, since after months of nonpayment, eBay had zeroed out my account, crippled it, and sent the balance to collections. So double-check with eBay staff that your account is fine and dandy.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2009

I dealt with IC Systems recently -- I forgot to pay my last phone bill with AT&T Wireless after switching to another carrier.

My beef with them is that, when I was on the phone and paying the bill, the rep told me they were charging me ~$12 to "guarantee the debt wouldn't be reported to a credit agency." There are two problems with that.

First, the language implies that I could pay the $12 and not the bill and not worry about reporting to credit agencies.

Second, the language is what our legal system calls "extortion."

None of this answers the original question. Just wanted to share about IC Systems.
posted by ben242 at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2009

We've had this landline number for 4+ years and since the phone was turned on, we've had collectors calling for various (and presumably fake) female identities. Sometimes its automated and I'm told to press numbers to talk to an operator. I hang up. Sometimes a sassy bitch of a woman isn't at all convinced that I am not the deadbeat or know the deadbeat and am hiding them in the pantry. Sometimes they leave messages in the middle of the day. I've also got calls/postal mail from agencies that loosely get a variation of my name and just want me to pay for this random person anyway. A strongly worded letter got that to stop. The phone calls from the automated line and the sassy bitches still occasionally happen.

The point is, collection agencies don't really care if you are the right person, they want to settle this bill one way or the other and they will bully you about it if you let them. Check with the town or the DMV to clear up your outstanding parking tickets (save any receipts they give you - not everything gets cleared up with collection agencies right away). Check with ebay to make sure your account is solid. Monitor your credit report to make sure everything is copacetic.

If all of these things check out and your all paid up with the DMV, you can probably ignore the calls if they continue.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2009

Colletions agencies love to just randomly search and assign debt to addresses/phone numbers.

Frankly, that would be a waste of time...but if you do think it's happening, it's almost certainly a violation of the law. Report it to your state Attorney General's office.
posted by gimonca at 11:02 AM on January 7, 2009

ebay owns paypal. I wonder if they mean paypal?
(but still don't do it)
posted by Xhris at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2009

There is this bizarre Microsoft Live Search Cashback program.. I really, really doubt your collections agent is working it, but I've seen a lot of 'creative' schemes for taking Microsoft's money.
posted by Chuckles at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2009

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