Imagine after a long day at work you come home to find a letter from the American Bureau of Collections. You think about shrugging it off because you think it’s just junk mail. I mean, what do you have to owe anyway? It could just be a newsletter of some sorts, but after some thought, you decide to open it.
After reading it, you learn that not only do you supposedly owe this agency $5,326, but you also only have seven days to respond before attorneys get involved.
The thing is, you have no idea why you owe this amount of money. You have no idea if they will actually get attorneys after seven days. You think, would they even take the time to do that? How do you respond? You know you don’t owe this money, but where do you go from here? What are your next steps?
What if this actually happened to you?
This was reality for our client, let’s call him, Jacob. But why were they after him?
A couple years prior to this letter, Jacob worked for a company where he used his name to pay for a service they were using. The service they were using was free, meaning they didn't have to pay anything. For some reason though, the company was still being billed, but there was no credit card information to pay for it (seeing how it was free). Some time later, Jacob got a new job, and the company disbanded shortly afterwards.
When creditors got involved to find the person responsible for this accumulating unpaid debt, whose name did they find? Unfortunately, Jacob's name.
What can the American Bureau of Collections do?
Creditors can employ a collector to give gentle reminders of unpaid dues. They are just auditing on the behalf of the creditors. In other words, they will annoy the consumer to pay the debt. It should be noted that they can annoy Jacob in this way, but don't yet have any legal authority to do much more than that.
"The American Bureau of Collections" makes it sound like a federal agency, but it doesn't mean anything special. The name is more academic and intimidating than anything else, but this name was chosen by design, to present people like Justin with an air of authority. They have the same power as any other collection agency, and, as I said, for as long they are in this "gentle reminder" mode, that is not much power at all. The name "Bureau of Collections" helps bring to mind your credit rating though, which may force you to act quicker if you are afraid to have a mark on your credit score.
Could Jacob Fight This Letter?
This is why Jacob, according to the details of his case, was able to fight back on this letter.
Reason #1 - He had made previous attempts to close the account in question
After leaving his old job, he messaged one of his former executives to make sure his name had been taken off the account. His executive told him they would look into it to make sure it had been removed. Jacob forgot to follow through after this, but he showed intent to fix the issue long ago, which is good. He even had the text message conversations to prove it. If it was in his complete control, Jacob would’ve been able to close the account.
Reason #2 - This was the first time Jacob had been reached by the agency.
After all those years, this was the first time they had reached Jacob. It means the collection agency had been sitting on this unpaid debt for some time, allowing it to accrue to a monstrous amount. Also, particular to his case, the letter was sent to his parents' house, rather than to him directly. There was no record that they had tried to contact anyone else in the business either. In this day and age, they have ample opportunities to contact him quicker and sooner, but didn't.
Reason #3 - The American Bureau of Collections violated the Fair Debt Collection Act
According to the Fair Debt Collection Act, you can't make threats that you can't(or won't) follow up on. For instance, they said they would get attorneys involved after seven days. According to the postage dates on the letter though, that amount of time had already passed, which is slightly embarrassing on their part. Also, it is illegal to harass a consumer (the case law defines what past courts have deemed "harassment"). They treated Jacob like he was a business entity, when in reality, he was a consumer. In other words, they are going after a consumer when they think he's a business.
Reason #4 - And the most important reason, he wasn't supposed to be billed in the first place!
The service was free--it's that simple!
Jacob actually had a strong case and reasonable complaints to write a demand letter. So he did, with Veeto’s help of course.
How Jacob used his Veeto Power
Presented to you, step by step:
Within a few weeks, no further steps were taken by the American Bureau of Collection. They didn’t send attorneys after him and there were no marks on his credit score. The best part though? He didn’t have to pay the $5,326 they thought he owed. There were no court cases or anything.
With Veeto, you have the power to fight back on any low-value claim. Let us help you next!
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