My Call From a Debt Collector

Yep, it happened to me. Two weeks ago, while I was in my hotel room aimlessly staring at my TweetDeck, I got a phone call from a number that I didn’t know. Being the phone screener that I am, I let it go to voicemail. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard the sound that meant there was a message waiting to be heard. I decided to listen.

The first part of the message was a guy stating that this recording was for my ears only and if anyone not having the name Adam was listening, they were supposed to hang up. After about 15 seconds of that stuff, the guy stated who he was, where he worked and the fact that I owed them money. He left a reference number and told me to call them back. My first thought was that there was NO WAY I owed them anything. I have always paid my bills on time and if I did owe someone something, I would have taken care of it before it went to a collection agency.

Well, I waited about a week to call them back (surprisingly they didn’t call me back). I got someone right way and gave them my reference number. To my surprise, they didn’t ask me for any additional information before they got to the meaty stuff. Apparently, I owed my old apartment complex approximately $78. Really? It went to collections for $78?

My initial thought was “just give me the address so I can pay you with a money order”. However, I scrapped that thought and decided to fight. I told the woman that I wanted to check with the apartment complex to see what the charges were for. She told me I had a week and we hung up.

After that call, I immediately called my previous apartment complex (which happens to be halfway across the USA). To my surprise, they said that they would look into it and call me later that day.

A few hours later, I got the call back from the apartment complex. After some digging, they realized that they actually owed ME $78. Would you look at that, a $156 swing for little to no effort. I was completely relieved when I heard her say that. I went from feeling like a criminal to feeling like I just won the lottery.

I haven’t heard anything lately about this so I hope it’s getting taken care of. The apartment complex said that they would contact their headquarters and issue me a check. The collection agency said that they would verify my case with the apartment complex. Fingers crossed!

There were a couple of things that I learned from this whole ordeal:

1. Don’t Automatically Agree With the Collector

As I mentioned above, I almost caved immediately and paid them. I felt embarrassed that I had something in collections and just wanted it gone. Luckily, the collection company that had my case was rather friendly. Some collectors can be pushy and ruthless. Don’t let them push you around to the point that you just agree. Ask them to give you a detailed list of what the bill entails. Does it include late fees? Interest? Other charges? Make them prove it!

2. Don’t Give Them More Information Than Needed

Many collectors will want you to pay right away. In order to do that they will ask for you bank account information. Under no circumstances are you to give them that information! They will clean out your account no matter what you tell them to take out. If you agree with their assessment, send them a money order or certified check. When you mail it, make sure you send it certified mail so you have a signature showing they received it.

Well, there was my ordeal with a debt collector. Do you have any war stories of your own?

15 thoughts on “My Call From a Debt Collector

    1. Adam Post author

      I saved the VM but it just doesn’t seem like that big of a problem for me with such a small amount. Now if I owed them $10,000, then yeah, I would call up a lawyer.

  1. Daniel

    Something like this happened to me in August after I moved out of my old apartment. I got a letter saying that if I didn’t pay a $100 “clean-up” fee (for stuff left by a roommate), it would go to collection. I almost paid immediately, but instead called to get more details. Luckily, they couldn’t find the documentation (description + pictures) so they reversed the charge!
    .-= Daniel´s lastest post ..The Easiest Way To Save Money =-.

    1. Adam Post author

      Sounds like some good luck there!

      I really have no idea what the $78 was for. To be honest with you, I have no idea why they owe it to me. To my recollection, I paid a partial amount of rent that month. Who knows what it’s for…..

  2. Sherry

    Interestingly enough, we (my dh & I) began to receive phone calls regarding debt his oldest son “owed”. He is a gainfully employed VP @ a bank! We were stunned! They “insisted” that he lived at our home (he is 44 & has not lived at home for over 20 years!) I denied any knowledge of his whereabouts (his job involves a certain level of security which would put him at personal risk); I had no clue who these idiots were. I immediately called “Jack” & alerted him to the phonecall i.e. “are you ok”? They continued to call. I did a little bit of “sleuthing” & found it was an attorney’s office who specialized is assisting with collections. After speaking with our personal attorney, I contacted the attorney’s office & whipped out a couple “laws” (state) that prohibited what they were doing. I also said I was filing charges against him @ the state bar. The calls stopped & I did in fact contact the state bar & filed a complaint. No word on what has come of it.

    The greater concern was our son. What was going on? This prompted a conversation between my husband & him…no additional information was forthcoming but I suspect it may have been an issue involving his 1st wife (who has shurked other financial responsibilities)…regardless, it was concerning. So…if you are in debt & are not telling your family…beware!!! These sharks will use whatever method they can to get the $$.

    1. Adam Post author

      You’re right about them trying almost anything. Chances are they were using you to get on his case (which it sounds like you did) about the debt. They feel that it would make him more inclined to pay them. These people are sharks just like you said. They will hound you until you either pay them or get a new phone number!

  3. thriftygal

    Coincidentally, I also got a call from a collections agency. It was supposedly regarding a medical bill for a family member. Interestingly enough, I had gotten a couple of similar bills earlier in the same person’s name that I knew were still going through the insurance process. But never did I get a bill for the amount they specified (which was only a couple of hundred dollars).

    I asked for contact info on the referring company so that I could call and ask them to pull it out of collections, seeing as we never saw a bill for that amount before. But the collections agency refused to give me any other information since it wasn’t in my name. Furthermore, she said that the company had stated that we never responded to their bills.

    I did give them the insurance information, but I refused to pay them (don’t know if that was a smart move!) without any more information and they said they would write it off as uncollectible.

    I don’t know the ramifications of such a writeoff. How would it affect my relative?

  4. Ronald

    When my wife was still alive,we were constantly being battered over medical bills.She had 3 different insurance companies paying different bills.
    We turned in one provider for medicare fraud after they garnished my wages!.(we had statements showing medicare had paid)Investigators told us it was a “common” practice to have the doctor bill medicare,any supplemental insurance,and the insured and in many cases get paid by ALL THREE!!
    They has to refund the wages and we filed a formal complaint with the agency that regulates collection agencies.Apparently they are under no pressure to insure the cases actually have merit!
    To this day I’m sure some bill collector is probably still trying to get money from my late wife!!

  5. Beckey

    Does this include if I received a letter from a collection agency, called original company, verified said information from letter and arranged payments? I’m still cleaning up from a messy separation last year and am finally caught up.

  6. Forest

    Ha ha, never give up the fight I guess!! Especially if you don’t feel in the wrong.

    I’ll be dreading debt collector calls as I face some of my debts this year!

  7. Pingback: Carnival of Money Stories- New Year’s 2010 Edition

  8. Pingback: Roundup and Link Love – Deep Freeze 2010 Edition

  9. Patricia

    I worked for a company which resolved medical bills and found that it is best to go back to the original source, when you get a collections notice. Even call the collections company to find out who it is, but don’t settle with the collections company first. Go back to the original creditor, and work it out with them. If they refuse and refer you to the collections company, then settle with the collections company second. Many times, the letter from the collections company goes to you and you are still able to negotiate payment with the original creditor and avoid negative credit history by settling with the collections agent.

  10. katherine small

    are they allowed to call my old roomate ask him for his name, ask him if he lived with me and when he told them no tell him theyre coming to my house and monday?

Comments are closed.