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?