Collection Agency Here: Pay! And evidence of the bill is YOUR problem!
September 7, 2012 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Hounded by a collection agency - how do I gather evidence about the actual bill in question?

A collection agency sold a balance I had with T-Mobile. I've asked to see the original bill when they last called, but of course, that's a no-deal and they've asked me to talk to T-Mobile directly. This is for a bill in April. I usually don't just give money over to a collection agency, until I can first track the payments I have made through my credit card history, billing statements, etc.

What's strange is, I have T-Mobile still, same number even - I just moved my plan from a yearly contract to their pay-per-month ghetto plans. My suspicion is that there may be a accounting error: I'm getting charged for my original plan for the month I switched to the pay per month plan. I paid the first pay as you go month, and never got the bill for my monthly bill, because as far as I'm concerned, that account was closed. The T-Mobile rep. on the phone wasn't especially interested in having me switch over.

I've found T-Mobile's support service and even their website atrocious. Any tips of figuring out what went wrong and right this ship? This number has been calling me about twice a day for months. I finally decided to answer it today. It was a surprise that it was T-Mobile, since I've been happily using the pay as you go setup happily since the Spring. My guess is T-Mobile really is not very fond of this plan. I've had wait times on T-Mobiles customer service go on for hours before. It's a big headache and for the $125, I want this to be as less painful as possible, but if money isn't really owed, I don't want to owe it.
posted by alex_skazat to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not your problem. They need to provide evidence of the debt if you ask.
posted by empath at 3:08 PM on September 7, 2012

I've just spent a week on the phone with T-Mobile's customer support, so I feel your pain.

In general, the collection agency must provide proof of the debt that you owe. We were a day away from going to court over a debt that a collection agency had bought from another collection agency that bought the debt from a bill we owed practically 3 lifetimes ago. We contested that we had paid the debt, and demanded proof. They tried to sue us, and when it came to the court date, our lawyer was talking to a paralegal in their office to try and explain why they were suddenly dropping the suit -- and she said it was because they lost the paperwork.
posted by thanotopsis at 3:12 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there any reason you haven't simply called 611 on your cell phone to reach TMobile customer service and ask about any remaining balance on your previous account? That's what I do (in the US) and I've always gotten a person right away.
posted by davejay at 3:19 PM on September 7, 2012

note that some companies are very diligent about dinging your credit for unpaid amounts on closed accounts as low as $20 even if they can't find the paperwork -- ask me how I know! -- so better to just deal with this now while the paperwork is still available from TMobile. If you can't get them to admit you owed them money, get your credit report and confirm they've dinged you, then dispute the charge. TMobile will either say "we don't have a record of it" and your record gets cleaned up, or TMobile will show the credit agency proof of the debt, and so you can call TMobile back and say "you gave the credit agency proof of the debt when I disputed it, so you have this record, please escalate me."
posted by davejay at 3:22 PM on September 7, 2012

I have defended many cases under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well as my state's companion statute. (I represent creditors)

Under the FDCPA, you are entitled to "verification" of the debt, which is generally going to be the invoice in this case. The section of the FDCPA in this case is 1692g. They should have already told you the name of the creditor and its amount. However, your entitlement to the "verification" must be exercised within 30 days of your receipt of the creditor/amount notice.

You may have other rights under your state's consumer collection practices act. In this case, I would recommend working with T-Mobile for the time being.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:36 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would agree that the burden of proof is really on the collection agency but it would seem to me like, if you have been paying T-Mobile every month, you should be able to present to anyone the first three or four or x bills, from after the date on which the collection agency claims that you incurred the debt, which total $125 (or really any set of payments from after that date that total $125) and point out that even if they're correct in their version of things you have already payed to T-Mobile the amount owed; if T-Mobile's accounting department is having trouble applying your payments to them in FIFO order then it's an internal problem with them getting their shit together, not a matter of unpaid debt.
posted by XMLicious at 11:30 PM on September 7, 2012

« Older First Lego League?!?   |   I'm going to be a complete basketcase if I ever... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.