• Report: #268324

Complaint Review: Merchants' Credit Guide CO.

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  • Submitted: Fri, August 17, 2007
  • Updated: Sat, August 18, 2007

  • Reported By:Denver Colorado
Merchants' Credit Guide CO.
223 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

Merchants' Credit Guide CO. sent a collection letter on a debt that is 12 years old Ripoff Chicago Illinois

*Consumer Suggestion: Info

*Consumer Suggestion: Technically you owe them until you pay

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On August 17, 2007, I received a letter from Merchants' Credit Guide offering me a choice of three different payment plans on a debt that was on my credit report from 1996-2003. I called the 1-888 number on the letter and spoke to a customer service representative and told him the debt was on my credit report for 7 years and therefore was no longer valid. The representative stated that I was still legally obligated to repay the debt at which point I hung up on him.

Justice fighter
Denver, Colorado
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/17/2007 03:38 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Merchants-Credit-Guide-CO/Chicago-Illinois-60606/Merchants-Credit-Guide-CO-sent-a-collection-letter-on-a-debt-that-is-12-years-old-Ripoff-268324. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Info

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

OK Here's what you can do to force the collection agency to back off and validate the debt:

FIRST - Read the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at http://ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm.

It is important to understand the definitions used in the FDCPA, so I have included that section of the law. Many collectors do not fall under the FDCPA, so please read paragraph 6 and its subparagraphs very carefully:

803. Definitions [15 USC 1692a]
As used in this title --

(1) The term "Commission" means the Federal Trade Commission.

(2) The term "communication" means the conveying of information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.

(3) The term "consumer" means any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.

(4) The term "creditor" means any person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed, but such term does not include any person to the extent that he receives an assignment or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection of such debt for another.

(5) The term "debt" means any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment.

(6) The term "debt collector" means any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another. Notwithstanding the exclusion provided by clause (F) of the last sentence of this paragraph, the term includes any creditor who, in the process of collecting his own debts, uses any name other than his own which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts. For the purpose of section 808(6), such term also includes any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the enforcement of security interests. THE TERM DOES NOT INCLUDE --

(A) any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the creditor, collecting debts for such creditor;

(B) any person while acting as a debt collector for another person, both of whom are related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control, if the person acting as a debt collector does so only for persons to whom it is so related or affiliated and if the principal business of such person is not the collection of debts;

(C) any officer or employee of the United States or any State to the extent that collecting or attempting to collect any debt is in the performance of his official duties;

(D) any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt;

(E) any nonprofit organization which, at the request of consumers, performs bona fide consumer credit counseling and assists consumers in the liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from such consumers and distributing such amounts to creditors; and

(F) any person collecting or attempting to collect any debt owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another to the extent such activity (i) is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation or a bona fide escrow arrangement; (ii) concerns a debt which was originated by such person; (iii) concerns a debt which was not in default at the time it was obtained by such person; or (iv) concerns a debt obtained by such person as a secured party in a commercial credit transaction involving the creditor.

SECOND - send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the DEBT COLLECTOR to dispute the debt and request written validation of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such validation or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor. Also, include a statement stating that you do not wish to be contacted again until you receive all the written debt validation information you have requested. You should specifically ask for the following documentation:

What the money you say I owe is for;
Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;
Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;
Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable;
Identify the original creditor;
Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account;
Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state;
Provide me with your license numbers and Registered Agent.

Once they receive the letter, they must cease all collection efforts until they provide the written information requested. This is in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

THIRD - Once you received the written validation information requested, contact the CREDITOR (who owns the debt) via certified mail to resolve the matter.

Please note that simply sending the letter telling them to leave you alone does not absolve a valid debt. What the letter does do is force them to provide you with written validation of the debt and to stop all collection actions until you receive the information. Once you have the information, you should act on it accordingly by contacting the CREDITOR via certified mail.

Some other notes: Any statute of limitations does not absolve a valid debt; it merely prohibits the creditor from going to court to obtain a money judgment against you. IF there is already a money judgment, the statute of limitations most likely is longer - in New York State it's 20 years.

You can check the statute of limitations for debt in your state at http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/statue-limitations.html.

In addition, a credit report listing does not in any way determine if a debt is valid or not, or collectible or not that is what courts are for. There are 3 ways a valid debt can be absolved; you pay it off, the creditor forgives it, or bankruptcy court orders it absolved.

Section 809 of the FDCPA covers debt validation nicely:

809. Validation of debts [15 USC 1692g]

(a) Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing --

(1) the amount of the debt;

(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;

(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;

(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and

(5) a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

(c) The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.

Hope this helps.
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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Technically you owe them until you pay

AUTHOR: Nikki - (U.S.A.)

Technically, you owe them the money until you pay them. The 7 year run time on your credit report has nothing to do with that. Even though they can try to collect on the debt forever, you are not legally required to pay them. Check the statute of limitations for your state and this is how long they have before they have to bring suit against you in court.

For example, in Florida, the statute of limitations on credit card debt is 4 years (I think one state has 20 years). If they were to bring suit against me, they have 4 years from the date of delinquency. However, the debt stays on my credit report for 7 years. If they bring suit against me after 10 years, and I don't show up for court, or I don't bring up the statute of limitations in my defense, the judge can grant them the judgment even with the statute of limitations. So if they serve you with a subpoena at any time, you must appear in court.

Find the statute of limitations in your state. Also, if you have moved out of state since you had the credit, or moved out and back in, the statute of limitations changes again.

Again, technically they can call you forever to try and get you to pay them, and they can still collect your money even past the statute of limitations.
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