The following are inside collections talk offs and procedures that will be broken down. Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief after learning these idle threats or probes to coerce payment or gain personal information from a place like ACI. Collectors will be referred to as CA's.
1) If you actually speak to a CA (exercise extreme caution), their first sentence is typically "what are your intentions?" That is THEIR PLOY to get you to spill your guts with reasons you can't pay. Some naive debtors/consumers will say, "well I am not making enough money at my job and have nothing left after house and auto payment." You have just given them three pieces of ammunition that can be used against you. ACI cannot sue you but they forward notes of conversations back to their respective creditor/contractor. Now the creditor knows you 1)are a homeowner 2) own a car 3) are employed. That will greatly increase the likelihood of a creditor or law firm suit after ACI exhausts their efforts. As they say, loose lips sink ships. If you are on SSI. DO NOT FEAR. All debts with the exceptions being student loans or child support are NOT GARNISH ABLE if you are on SSI. ACI collects ONLY UNSECURED DEBTS and it sickens me the way places like this threaten the elderly with garnishments when it is AGAINST THE LAW to imply or attempt to garnish SSI checks on all unsecured debts.
2) "You are in a wage garnish-able state." That in itself is an FDCPA violation a desperate CA at a place like ACI will employ to get that dough to pad their bonus check. Any "IMPLIED THREAT" a place like ACI cannot carry out (ACI has no authority to sue) is a violation of the FDCPA. The "least sophisticated consumer standard" is what the judges look at in FDCPA suits. You likely may know it's a bluff, but someone from Welch, WV may not and they are the "least sophisticated consumer standard" which is held to all debtor initiated FDCPA suits in the eyes of judges.
3) When you stand up to their bullying and refuse to divulge personal info or give them your checking account, a place like ACI will commonly say, "collection efforts will continue." TRANSLATION: This CA knows you won't be bullied and knows he/she won't be getting paid so he/she dumps your account out of their file and the flunky sitting next to them inherits it.
4) "The settlement offer is good through 7/31/08." CA's bonuses are contingent on present month collections for immediate bonus check maximization. There are NO SUCH THINGS as deadlines. It's a false sense of urgency to coerce immediate payment. If you do have the cash to settle, get the OFFER IN WRITING. Preferably, propose an offer and ask them to fax it to you on July 31st (again, you will get most favorable settlements on the last day of the month as desperate ACI collectors will go "extra low" just to get paid.) Bear in mind even if you settle for 25-50 cents on the dollar, ACI will still profit. These bottom feeders pay usually between 5 and 10 cents on the dollar to collect your account from the original creditor. So ACI IS STILL PROFITTING from your settlement for 25 cents on the dollar. Therefore, NEVER ACCEPT their first, second or third offer. If a place like ACI truly had settlement parameters, they'd offer you one deal and stick to it. EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE. Bear in mind consumers, you may have to deal with the IRS when settling. It is mandated agencies and creditors send a 1099 form to all consumers/debtors if they settle and save over $600. So if your 20K credit card is settled for 5K (25 cents on the dollar), you will be getting a 1099 form in January 2009 requiring you to claim 15K as "unearned income" on your 2008 taxes. That translates to owing SEVERAL THOUSAND to Uncle Sam (especially for SINGLE filers). I think that's a hefty price to pay Uncle Sam especially if your credit is shot already (the account is charged off to begin with and you are stuck with it for 6 years at least on your CBR (credit bureau report)). Plus, lenders view "settlements" as a risky proposition. It shows current financial trouble and your APR will be much higher if approved (settling barely makes a dent in your FICO score (score on your CBR)). Any charge offs paid or not keep you in that "risk pool" for many years. There's no immediate rise from 560 FICO to 710 FICO just for settling ONE DEBT.
With these risky propositions, you are better off KEEPING YOUR MOUTH SHUT unless you absolutely need immediate credit repair for purposes of financing a home or a car. That is my personal opinion. Your personal livelihood is better both short and long-term by getting enough FDCPA violations recorded and then attempt to get the account reported as PIF (paid in full) on your CBR as your personal proposition to avoid taking a place like ACI to court for FDCPA violations. Agencies will accept that sometimes instead of going to court and paying you $1000 per violation (especially if your debt is relatively small to begin with).
June 2008 This is my third and final installment on the collection process at ACI. Mr. Bud Hibbs says to always send a validation request whenever any third party agency sends you a validation notice. When it comes to Law Firms who DO have the ability to issue a court judgment against the debtor, then requesting validation is always recommended. It stalls the process and puts the onus on the firm to validate and buys you some 30-45 days of peace and quiet. Where I respectfully have to challenge Mr. Hibbs is demanding validation on zombie debts from a place like ACI. In my humble opinion of working there, I explained in my last post there are no "in house attorneys" or any "legal department" that has the ability to issue court judgment papers from ACI. When a place like ACI gets a validation request, very often they look at the debtor as "smart" and usually return the account to the creditor. Sometimes when dealing with a debt only 2-3 years without payment, asking a 3rd party agency for validation that doesn't have legal recourses isn't in your best interest(2-3 years about as recent as ACI has to offer collectors to call on). The creditor may get antsy and speed up the lawsuit with foregoing the 3rd party collection process of bouncing the account from A, B and C collection agency. If you KNOW the account is BEYOND the statute of limitations especially no legal action can be taken (usually 3-6 years of nonpayment in most states), a validation notice isn't a good idea. All it does is potentially allow ABC credit card to renew interest in the debtor's account and dig up years of paperwork to put the debtor in the fire. Therefore, again in my humble opinion, it's better to graze in the weeds, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and buy 3-6 months of this toothless tiger called ACI (without any legal authority to sue) attempt to contact you. The same goes with cease & desist letters. It may hasten the creditor into filing suit on 2-3 year old debts without payment once again if you request validation or cease and desist from ACI.
1) If your place of employment is called, yourself or your superior only has to verbally say "stop calling" and calls have to stop. It's better to have "the boss" tell the ACI collector. Why? Because many collectors are dumber with the FDCPA law than debtors and believe unless the debtor says it at POE, calls can continue. Chances are good knowing most collectors at ACI aren't bonusing that they'll push the envelope and call again after "your boss says stop."
2) Knowing for 3 to 6 months they will have your account without legal recourse against you, have family members ask "probing questions" about the call. Again, for that bonus check (especially with parents of young 20 somethings, collectors will push the envelope and do 3rd party disclosure to generate payment from parents or a call back from debtor.
3) If #1 or #2 takes place, always have record of conversations in writing with witness signatures (to use when you take ACI to court). In addition, pay $30 to Radio Shack instead of foolishly paying ACI to renew the statute of limitations and buy a recording device to tape all calls (check and see if your state allows you to record a call without debtors consent (some states do and others don't).
June 2008 To further reiterate to consumers/debtors that may be getting collection calls from ACI, please remember the following. There is no "legal or pre-legal" department for any of the zombie accounts in their portfolio. Zombie debts in their portfolio include Providian credit cards, Chase check systems over draft checking accounts, Chase auto repos, WAMU credit cards, Resurgent judgments and Circuit City. The Resurgent Judgments are the most comical. These are accounts so old that some of them were last paid when Bill Clinton was in office. The way they work is not only are they beyond the statute of limitations, these are accounts where Resurgent Capital is trying to collect on credit cards where the debtor was actually sued and a default judgment was won against the debtor. When a judgment is won, the creditor still has to execute the judgment by going back to court a second time so the debtor under oath must verify employment, banking info etc. In most states, wage garnishment is then enforced through the courts usually. Problem with these accounts is the 2nd step/follow up was never executed and any debtor with a brain knows never to acknowledge owing on accounts this old. ADMITTING to a debt in some cases can potentially renew the statute of limitations. It's not only mailing x amount of dollars that can renew a zombie debt statute of limitations. Regardless, ACI doesn't have the ability to issue court judgments of any sorts against debtors. Their one weapon in their arsenal is "intimidation" and has the power of a spitball if you know the truth about ACI accounts. If you are severely in debt and have an account in ACI, that's actually good news. Why? Because they keep accounts of nonpayment usually between 3 and 6 months before the creditor loses patience and pulls the accounts back to their office. Therefore, at least you know your Providian card, etc. is in no danger of a lawsuit for at least 3 to 6 months. Screen and ignore calls or bait aggressive collectors into an FDCPA suit.
These are the scoops from budhibbs.com on this rinky dink outfit.
Buffalo, New York