My son has twice received "Settlement Offers" from Afni, Inc. Like others have reported, they are offering to settle for half of what they say is the current amount due. They say the original creditor is CINGULAR.
My son did go through a few different cell phone companies when he lived in PA about 6 yrs. ago, and he thinks Cingular could have been one of them. He did get some bills sent to collection back then, however, I know they were paid off because I personally paid them all so he could start over with his credit. Of course, neither of us know where our proof is at this point.
This sort of thing has happened to us before. My husband had a bill get sent to collection, and I paid that off. When we were contacted again by someone saying we had never paid the bill about 2 yrs. later, I simply faxed our "paid in full" receipt to them and never heard from anyone again about that one.
Since this happens so frequently, here is what I think happens. These collection companies buy lists of names of people whose accounts have gone into collection. Collection agencies also sell them to others. These agencies figure why bother removing the name of someone who paid up, when they can get paid for more names as long as they are left on the list as active? So they pass along all the names whether the customer paid or not. After all, the burden of proof is on the customer, not the collection agency. And 5 or 6 yrs. after the fact, how many people can come up with the proof that they paid the bill - sometimes not even remembering if they even dealt with the company in the first place! They are counting on people just paying the "settlement offered". I believe any account that has been sent to collection is ripe for this scam, where they wait years and then bill you over and over again regardless of if it has been paid or not.
The best defense is keeping all proof of payments, and try to deal with the original company before an overdue account gets sent to collection.