• Report: #264505

Complaint Review: Congress Collection

  • Submitted: Wed, August 01, 2007
  • Updated: Mon, September 03, 2007

  • Reported By:Oxford Michigan
Congress Collection
24901 Northwestern Highway Southfield, Michigan U.S.A.

Congress Collection Violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ripoff Southfield Michigan

*Consumer Comment: I suggest A1

*Consumer Comment: Tim, Please pass the salt...

*Consumer Comment: Some Case Law

*Consumer Comment: Here we go Robert

*Consumer Comment: OK, let's see...

*Consumer Suggestion: Follow up rebuttal

*Consumer Suggestion: Cease Communications should be in writing.

*Consumer Suggestion: Please read FDCPA again

*Author of original report: Robert.... FDCPA.. well read

*Consumer Suggestion: Melissa, if you're a paralegal...

*Author of original report: response to Tim

*Author of original report: response to Tim

*Author of original report: response to Tim

*Author of original report: response to Tim

*Consumer Suggestion: Your claim isn't as solid as you think

*Consumer Comment: hope this helps

*Author of original report: Response to poster

*Consumer Suggestion: Possibly a violation, let me explain

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Several months ago (6 or more), I recieved a letter from Congress Collections Corp regarding a medical bill that my insurance was supposed to cover and didnt. I sent a dispute letter to Congress Collections within my 30 day period.

I was very specific, I wanted proof that I had a valid account with Congress Collections, not with the doctors office. I also specifically told them, that pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act they were not to contact me by telephone, that they could only contact me by mail. They sent me back proof from the doctors office that I owed the bill to the doctors office, not to Congress Collections.

Today, while at work and on my WORK phone (I am not allowed to recieve personal calls at work), Ann Taylor from Congress Collections called me. I told her immedeatley, in no uncertain terms, that I am not allowed to recieve personal calls at work. She stammed, "oh, well... I can give you our number and you can call me back before 5 today" (Umm... let's see, I work 8 to 5, how am I going to call you back before 5?? and let's not forget, I specifically told you not to call me and that all communication must be in WRITING only)..

So, any advice? Anyone know of an attorney who would take them on for me? I don't have enough money to pay them off, I don't have enough money to pay an attorney, either, not even a retainer or costs.. But, I know that they violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and I want to throw the book at them!

(For all the attorneys out there reading this, I am an impeachable witness. I am currently employed as a Paralegal (sorry, my attorneys do corporate law) and am a full time student and in training to be an EMT. I do search and rescue work, too. I have had no tickets in the past several years, and I've only been fired from a job once. I am the mother of two beautiful children, and just recently got married. In other words, put me on the stand and your case is made! I'm willing to do the leg work on the case too, just point me in the right direction!)

Melissa
Oxford, Michigan
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/01/2007 06:59 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Congress-Collection/Southfield-Michigan-48075/Congress-Collection-Violation-of-Fair-Debt-Collection-Practices-Act-ripoff-Southfield-Mich-264505. 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 Comment

I suggest A1

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

I don't think that ketchup is a very good compliment for crow. I would go with something a little fancier! Why not jazz up such a good meal?

You're a good man, Robert, and I hope that you have recognized this as a polite conversation between two concerned consumer advocates. I'm glad to see that your research into CA law showed that, at least in that state, first party creditors are held to the same standards as third parties.

I've talked with a few fellow attorneys on this matter since my last posting, and have it on information (I haven't done the research myself) that there is some more case law out there on a different angle of my topic.

Basically, this is a line of cases holding that a "debt buyer" cannot be considered a "creditor" under the FDCPA because they never actually extended credit to anyone. The reasoning behind these holdings is that, even though the FDCPA doesn't specifically state in its definition of "creditor" that a creditor has to actually be someone who personally extended credit, the common accepted definition of the term is used to clear up this ambiguity by restricting the class of "creditors" to those who actually extend credit, and excluding those who are collecting for themselves, but never actually extended credit. And my last sentence was way too long per my general rules of writing, so I'm sorry if it's hard to parse, but I just couldn't seem to shrink it down.

Have a good one!
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#2 Consumer Comment

Tim, Please pass the salt...

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

Pass the salt - I need it for my crow.

I don't know what happened Tim. I posted a rather lengthy reply but I'll try a smaller one.

I finally did agree with you but not for the reasons you articulated. I did some checking and lo and behold CONGRESS' primary business is COLLECTIONS. Unfortunately (for me) when I start typing and abbreviate with CC I start thinking Cash Call, and well... you see what happened.

(chomp) More salt please.

I do appreciate your examples of case law. Further, there was another report with a reference to the California Fair Dept Collections Act that I researched and again, lo and behold, at least in California, first party creditors must follow the restrictions in the FDCPA for 3rd party collectors.

(dabbing drippins from chin) So, I apologize for getting mixed up between CC (congress collections) and CC (cash call.)

(gulp) any ketchup at your end of the table?


I hope the ROR writer gets some satisfaction from CONGRESS COLLECTIONS
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#3 Consumer Comment

Some Case Law

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

Even as my analysis hasn't been challenged as of yet, I went ahead and found some cases supporting my position (that a "debt buyer" is a "debt collector" even though they may technically meet the definition of a "creditor").

In Munoz v. Pipestone Finishing, LLC, the U.S. District Court for Minnesota held that a purchaser of defaulted debts was a "debt collector" per the FDCPA because its principle business was the collection of debts and that it used means of interstate commerce to do so. 397 F. Supp 2d 1129 (2005).

In Schlosser v. Faribanks Capital Corp. the 7th Circuit declared that debt buyers whose principle business is the collection of debts are debt collectors per the FDCPA. 323 F.3d 534 (2003).

In Kimber v. Federal Financial Corp., the federal court for the Middle District of Alabama determined that, where a corporation was formed solely to buy accounts receivable of a bankrupt company and to collect on said accounts was a debt collector per the FDCPA because the corporation was in the business of collecting stale debts rather than extending credit. 668 F.Supp 1480 (1987).

In other numerous cases, federal and state courts have held that check authorization services, who purchase debts relating to dishonored checks, are debt collectors per the FDCPA. See Ballard v Equifax Check Servs. 27 F Supp 2d 1201(1998, ED Cal); Holmes v Telecredit Service Corp. 736 F Supp 1289 (1990, DC Del); Volden v Innovative Fin. Sys., 440 F3d 947 (2006, CA8 SD); etc.

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#4 Consumer Comment

Here we go Robert

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

Much obliged, Robert. I will explain why a debt buyer is a debt collector using the definitions in the FDCPA as you asked. But first, let me point out that your very request is an over-simplification of the law.

The FDCPA does itself expressly state, in a roundabout way, that debt buyers are debt collectors. More important than the statute itself, however, are the numerous court decisions that have interpreted the FDCPA to say what I'm saying. If you're still not convinced by my response below, the I guess I'll have to get you those case cites.

But away we go.

Section 803(6) of the FDCPA states that "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."

The repeated use of the term "any" in this statement gives rise to a legal presumption that ANYBODY who is attempting to collect ANY debt is a debt collector. This is a basic principle of statutory construction, and has been reiterated by the numerous cases interpreting the FDCPA. Make sure you understand what I mean by "presumption" before going on.

Now, the last sentence of that Section introduces the exceptions to this rule ("The term does not include --"). These are the ways that you can defeat the presumption. If someone collecting a debt doesn't want to be considered a debt collector, they HAVE to fit into one of these exceptions. And here they are:

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

This is the exception that your analysis relies on, due to the definition of a "creditor." However, the definition of a creditor in the FDCPA does not include Congress, because they DID receive a transfer of the debt solely for the purpose of facilitating collections. And here's why: when Congress PAID the original creditor for the right to collect the debt, they faciliated the collection of the debt by paying a portion thereof.

Think about this. If any collection agency could weasel its way out of the FDCPA merely by paying the actual value of the debt (amount multiplied by probability of collection) then they would all do so. It wouldn't make any difference to the bottom line because, in the aggregate, they would be bringing in the same amount. So, if the FDCPA were given your interpretation, every collection agency in the country would become a "debt buyer" rather than a commissioned or flat fee collector, because they could thereby avoid the hefty liabilities associated with the FDCPA.

This would undermine the purpose of the FDCPA entirely. And allowing individual agencies to avoid liability due to the nature of the transaction also defeats the purpose of the FDCPA, and courts will always look to the purpose of a law, read as a whole, in interpreting it.

"(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 . . ." The rest of this exception is irrelevant, because Congress is not related to the original creditor.

"(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." Again, inapplicable.

"(D) any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt." Again, inapplicable.

"(E) any nonprofit organization which . . ." The rest is irrelevant because Congress is not an NPO. Again, inapplicable.

The final exception (Subsection (F)) has multiple parts that we have to look to individually:

"(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" (inapplicable)
(ii) concerns a debt which was originated by such person" (inapplicable)
(iii) concerns a debt which was not in default at the time it was obtained by such person" (inapplicable)
(iv) concerns a debt obtained by such person as a secured party in a commercial credit transaction involving the creditor." (inapplicable)

As you can see, Congress fails to fit into any of the exceptions to the "any person collecting a debt" language. And THAT'S why they are a "debt collector" despite the fact that they own the debt.

I certainly understand why you would look to the FDCPA and think that debt buyers don't fall into the pertinent definition. But what you are doing is looking for something that puts them INTO the definition of a debt collector. That's the wrong way to go about it because, under the language of the FDCPA, they are presumably a debt collector. So what you need to look for is something that takes them OUT of the FDCPA, and there's just nothing there.

I hope that explained it well enough for you. If not, I'll find you the case law.

The other part of my analysis that you took issue with was this statement: "'the FDCPA applies to ANY entity, including first-party creditors, who make it appear as though they are a collection agency."

This isn't directly stated in the FDCPA. Rather, it is stated in cases applying the FDCPA. What you need to understand, Robert, is that the FDCPA is but one piece of a much larger puzzle that governs debt collections. Along with the Act itself, you also need to look to case law and the laws of the relevant state. No lawyer would look to a statute or regulation, make his own intepretation, and just roll with it. You HAVE to look to caselaw interpreting the statute as well. If you fail to do so, you'll probably find that your interpretation was wrong.

Thanks for all the fun, and if you still disagree with my analysis, please share your opinions!

Best regards!
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#5 Consumer Comment

OK, let's see...

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

Melissa, you wrote: "Robert,

using your OWN definitions taken from the FDCPA -

(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 SOLEY FOR THE PURPSE OF FACILITATING COLLECTION OF SUCH DEBT FOR ANOTHER. (emphasis added)."

First, they are not my definitions Melissa, they are direct quotes from the FDCPA.

Second, please note the last 2 words in the quote above "FOR ANOTHER."

You also wrote: "Congress Collection is NOT collecting on behalf of the doctors office. As I stated in my update, the doctors office SOLD the debt to Congress."

--as you wrote, CC is collecting on behalf of THEMSELVES, not FOR ANOTHER, therefore I stand by my assessment that CC is acting as a CREDITOR per the FDCPA and therefore the FDCPA restrictions for collection agencies does not apply.

and: "They were not assigned the debt, they purchased it from the doctors office (they have been alleging that I owe the debt to them, not the doctors office). I have gone back and forth with the insurance company over the debt, and even cancelled my policy with that company."

-- they are alleging that you owe them because they purchased the debt from the doctor - thus the debt is NOW owed to them.

This is why I stated that your information about collection agencies and the FDCPA do not apply to CC in this particular case - I still contend that it doesn't based on the FDCPA and the information you posted here.

I also disagree with Tim's rebuttal that your assessment of FDCPA applicability is correct - it is not, and neither is his based on the FDCPA.

I suspect that Tim may have overlooked those pesky last 2 words "FOR ANOTHER" which is what defines CC as a creditor in this situation.

Tim wrote: "A 'debt buyer' is consider a 'debt collector' per the FDCPA." This is not true. I would appreciate it, Tim, is you would post the exact cite from the FDCPA that states this.

You also wrote: "the FDCPA applies to ANY entity, including first-party creditors, who make it appear as though they are a collection agency. "

Actually, what the FDCPA states is that anyone who is collecting a debt has to be honest about it - they are breaking the law if they are lying or misleading as to who is collecting and for what. I agree with the hypothetical situations you outlined Tim, they clearly are violations, but your statement about a debt buyers being considered a debt collector, I believe, is wrong. I see no such statement in the FDCPA, so please point out the section of the FDCPA that states that so I might learn what I'm overlooking.
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#6 Consumer Suggestion

Follow up rebuttal

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

Melissa,

I re-read your intial report, and my opinion has not changed. I will acknowledge that being a paralegal does give you somewhat of an edge over the average consumer in understanding the laws, but it does not give you the insight of an attorney (which I am).

And NO! I am NOT on the side of the creditor or the collection agency(s)! In fact, I make a large part of my living by sticking it to the collection agencies!

I have worked on class action suits against collection agencies, I have acted as counsel for a "credit repair" business, and I currently have several cases in progress that implicate the FDCPA and/or the FCRA. I understand these laws VERY well. I hope that gives you a bit more faith in my opinion!

Now, I did not state that you didn't have a case. And, concededly, the title to my previous rebuttal was inaccurate. My point is this: you HAVE stated an FDCPA violation, but the extent of the violation is rather minor, and I don't see you getting much out of a lawsuit. Actually, I think a lawsuit at this time would do you more harm than good. That's the summary, here's the analysis:

First, your interpretation of the pertinent definition in the FDCPA is correct. A "debt buyer" is consider a "debt collector" per the FDCPA. Debt buyers are not "first-party creditors" who are exempt from most of the FDCPA. They are bound by the same rules as any other collection agency. And, if you look closer at the FDCPA, you'll find another provision that puts these fellas within the gambit of said law: the FDCPA applies to ANY entity, including first-party creditors, who make it appear as though they are a collection agency.

For example, if you owe your neighbor $1000, and he sends you a phoney letter making it appear as though it's from a collection agency, then HE will have placed himself under the rules of the FDCPA, even though he's technically not a debt collector. I've even been able to characterize a first-party creditor as a debt collector simply because he put the website address of a collection agency in an email he sent to my client. So, simply by using the name "Congress Collections," they are under the jurisdiction of the FDCPA regardless of how they came by the debt.

Second, you have stated violations of the FDCPA for which you likely have suffered no "actual" damages. You stated that they called you at work, and that there may have been an issue as to validation of the debt. These are violations, but you would probably be limited to statutory damages (unless you got canned from your job for getting a personal phone call). So, at the VERY most, I see you getting about $2000 out of a lawsuit. You would also likely get your attorney's fees paid for.

Third, you have NOT stated any FCRA violations, and I'm not entirely sure why you think the FCRA has been violated. Regardless of who the debt is owed to now, and regardless of whether your insurance company should have paid it in the first place, you DO owe a debt and you haven't claimed otherwise. Granted, you may have a case for indemnification against the insurer, but that's a totally separate issue. And as you do owe this debt, it was within the right of the collector to report it to a CRA.

Fourth, and here's my big concern, if you file a suit under the FDCPA or FCRA, the collection agency IS going to countersue you for the amount that you owe. Any damages you receive under the FDCPA or FCRA may set-off whatever your debt is, but you will still walk away with a judgment against you, which will be reflected on your credit report, which in turn will do more damage than an open collections matter. And the FDCPA and FCRA will only cover attorney fees associated with said laws, they do NOT cover any fees associated with ancillary issues.

Beleive me, I AM NOT on the side of ANY collection agency, especially "debt buyers" who tend to be more unscrupulous than standard outfits. But it would be unethical of me to advise you to pursue an FDCPA or FCRA claim when I don't think it's in your best interest. I fight these guys all the time, and I fight them well, but I would NEVER advise a client in your situation to file such a lawsuit, at least until AFTER the debt has been paid. And THAT'S why I told you to go ahead and pay the debt.

If you have any further questions, I would be more than happy to answer them for you. Further, if you are within the Western District of Michigan, I would be more than happy to represent you in any FUTURE FDCPA or FCRA actions. But, until that debt is paid off, I wouldn't press the issue.

Bear in mind that it is my intention to HELP you by giving you sound advice based on my experience and my understanding of the laws we're dealing with, as well as other circumstances regarding your situation that you may not have thought about. That's why I spent three years in law school, and that's why I've spent hundreds of hours researching and perfecting my understanding of the FDCPA and FCRA. I'm here to HELP, and I'm sorry if my advice doesn't please you, but it is sound legal advice based on experience, research, and education. It's not my job to paint a rosy picture. It's my job to paint a picture with the colors I have on my palate.

Best of Luck!
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Cease Communications should be in writing.

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

The FDCPA states that the collection agency must cease communications with you after they have received it in writing (section 805c). Although section 805(a)(3) probably also applies to you in regards to calling you at work, you have no proof that you told them not to call you at work. It is really not worth pursuing a case against them for this particular infraction. A judge would probably rule against you. If you had something stronger, I'd say go for it.

Too bad you didn't appeal the matter with the insurance company before it went into collections.
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#8 Consumer Suggestion

Please read FDCPA again

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

If Congress PURCHASED the debt, they are now the debt OWNER and considered a CREDITOR according to the FDCPA. The reason for the purchase is not relevant, the key term here is "purchase." A purchase is not an assignment.

I don't like CC one bit, but they are not violating the FDCPA - they cover their butts very well. Even their "marketing" relationship with First National gets them off the hook thanks in part to paragraph 6(B).

They may be violating some other laws, but the FDCPA and the Illinois CAA are not them.

Oh, and I'm not a debt collector. I'm a computer consultant and rental property owner who learned about the credit game back in 1970's when I had money problems.
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#9 Author of original report

Robert.... FDCPA.. well read

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

Robert,

using your OWN definitions taken from the FDCPA -

(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 SOLEY FOR THE PURPSE OF FACILITATING COLLECTION OF SUCH DEBT FOR ANOTHER. (emphasis added).

As Congress clearly purchased this account soley for the purpose for facilitating collection of said debt for another, the FDCPA DOES apply to them.

Also, a little farther down in the definitions is this:

(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

Even if Congress hadn't purchased a debt in default for the sole purpose of collections, they would fall under this section as "a creditor who, in the process of collecting his own debts, uses any name other than his own (they did NOT use the medical office name, they used Congress Collection) which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempt to collect such debts."

Therefore, Congress Collection DID violate the FDCPA.

So, again, I ask.. is anyone willing to help??
(I'm tired of being told I'm wrong by the people working for the collection agencies when I know that Congress violated my rights and want to know how to do something about it!)
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#10 Consumer Suggestion

Melissa, if you're a paralegal...

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

Please read the FDCPA - especially the definitions.

IF Congress purchased the debt as you state, they are collecting as a first party and are NOT violating the FDCPA. As the owner of the debt, the FDCPA says they are a CREDITOR, not a DEBT COLLECTOR. Don't take my word for it - read it yourself. You're standing as a paralegal does not change the law - here's the applicable sections from the law. Paragraph 6 (A) is what makes them NOT a DEBT COLLECTOR as regards the FDCPA:

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.

Cash Call covers their tracks well regarding the FDCPA. If you like, you may read the entire FDCPA (it's not long) at http://ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm.
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#11 Author of original report

response to Tim

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

Tim,

I understand how the FDCPA works, I have researched it thouroughly. (I'm sure you would agree that me being a paralegal does give me an edge over the average person).

Congress Collection is NOT collecting on behalf of the doctors office. As I stated in my update, the doctors office SOLD the debt to Congress.

As far as this being a minor violation, the FDCPA was put in place to protect people from unfair practices. If we don't uphold the law, who will? And, this is not only a minor violation, they have also reported this debt to the credit bureaus. I realize that is not a violation of the FDCPA, but it IS a violation of the FCRA. By them reporting the debt to the bureaus, I have been denied much needed loans for refinancing my home (to pay off this and credit cards), my vehicles, etc. There are punitive damages here that any GOOD attorney could get awarded, in addition to his/her costs and fees.

If I had the money to pay the debt, I would have paid the doctors office! Also, this debt was supposed to be paid under my insurance, and it was not. (see above posts regarding my insurance).

Are you sure that you are here to help the consumer and not the collector? Telling me to "just pay it" doesnt help me at all.

Melissa
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#12 Author of original report

response to Tim

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

Tim,

I understand how the FDCPA works, I have researched it thouroughly. (I'm sure you would agree that me being a paralegal does give me an edge over the average person).

Congress Collection is NOT collecting on behalf of the doctors office. As I stated in my update, the doctors office SOLD the debt to Congress.

As far as this being a minor violation, the FDCPA was put in place to protect people from unfair practices. If we don't uphold the law, who will? And, this is not only a minor violation, they have also reported this debt to the credit bureaus. I realize that is not a violation of the FDCPA, but it IS a violation of the FCRA. By them reporting the debt to the bureaus, I have been denied much needed loans for refinancing my home (to pay off this and credit cards), my vehicles, etc. There are punitive damages here that any GOOD attorney could get awarded, in addition to his/her costs and fees.

If I had the money to pay the debt, I would have paid the doctors office! Also, this debt was supposed to be paid under my insurance, and it was not. (see above posts regarding my insurance).

Are you sure that you are here to help the consumer and not the collector? Telling me to "just pay it" doesnt help me at all.

Melissa
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#13 Author of original report

response to Tim

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

Tim,

I understand how the FDCPA works, I have researched it thouroughly. (I'm sure you would agree that me being a paralegal does give me an edge over the average person).

Congress Collection is NOT collecting on behalf of the doctors office. As I stated in my update, the doctors office SOLD the debt to Congress.

As far as this being a minor violation, the FDCPA was put in place to protect people from unfair practices. If we don't uphold the law, who will? And, this is not only a minor violation, they have also reported this debt to the credit bureaus. I realize that is not a violation of the FDCPA, but it IS a violation of the FCRA. By them reporting the debt to the bureaus, I have been denied much needed loans for refinancing my home (to pay off this and credit cards), my vehicles, etc. There are punitive damages here that any GOOD attorney could get awarded, in addition to his/her costs and fees.

If I had the money to pay the debt, I would have paid the doctors office! Also, this debt was supposed to be paid under my insurance, and it was not. (see above posts regarding my insurance).

Are you sure that you are here to help the consumer and not the collector? Telling me to "just pay it" doesnt help me at all.

Melissa
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#14 Author of original report

response to Tim

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

Tim,

I understand how the FDCPA works, I have researched it thouroughly. (I'm sure you would agree that me being a paralegal does give me an edge over the average person).

Congress Collection is NOT collecting on behalf of the doctors office. As I stated in my update, the doctors office SOLD the debt to Congress.

As far as this being a minor violation, the FDCPA was put in place to protect people from unfair practices. If we don't uphold the law, who will? And, this is not only a minor violation, they have also reported this debt to the credit bureaus. I realize that is not a violation of the FDCPA, but it IS a violation of the FCRA. By them reporting the debt to the bureaus, I have been denied much needed loans for refinancing my home (to pay off this and credit cards), my vehicles, etc. There are punitive damages here that any GOOD attorney could get awarded, in addition to his/her costs and fees.

If I had the money to pay the debt, I would have paid the doctors office! Also, this debt was supposed to be paid under my insurance, and it was not. (see above posts regarding my insurance).

Are you sure that you are here to help the consumer and not the collector? Telling me to "just pay it" doesnt help me at all.

Melissa
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#15 Consumer Suggestion

Your claim isn't as solid as you think

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

Melissa, I think you meant to say that you are an "unimpeachable" witness. An impeachable witness is one whose version of the events has changed and is, therefore, a liar.

Your report only details one relatively minor FDCPA violation for which you likely suffered no "actual" damages. If you were to bring a suit under the FDCPA, you would probably be entitled, at most, to a $1000 judgment. The good news is that you might be able to get your attorney's fees paid (as allowed by the FDCPA), but the bad news is that the collection agency is going to countersue you for the amount they claim you owe.

The proof that you owed money to the doc's office is proof enough under the FDCPA. The collection agency is acting as an agent for the doctor in collecting the debt. I know that's a complicated concept, suffice it to say that there is no legal problem with the fact that you never dealt with Congress before. This is just how collections work, and it's perfectly legal.

It would probably be in your best interest just to pay the debt.

Best Regards!
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#16 Consumer Comment

hope this helps

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

please go to www.budhibbs.com check out his Worst Collection Agencies to see if they are listed, if not you can add them. He also has some wonderful suggestions on how to help.
I too am being harassed my CA's and will not tolerate any longer.
hope this helps, just my opinion.
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#17 Author of original report

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

Thank you for your post. After my initial cease communications letter and request for verification, they mailed me the verification that I still owe the money to the doctors office.

They were not assigned the debt, they purchased it from the doctors office (they have been alleging that I owe the debt to them, not the doctors office). I have gone back and forth with the insurance company over the debt, and even cancelled my policy with that company. The insurance company I had at that time is currently being investigated by the Michigan AG's office for not paying the bills as outlined in the insurance contracts and several people have initiated their own suits against the company. I unfortunately do not have the money to hire a lawyer.

Now, to answer your questions. The debt was purchased by Congress Collections, not assigned to them, therefore the original cease communications letter is still in effect. (I called the doctors office in question to verify this). They did not communicate with me any further than the document copies verifying the debt owed to the doctors office after my initial letter until this telephone call.

The debt in question is slightly larger than the $1,000.00 penalty that I am entitled to. Does anyone have a letter that I could use to offer to settle the debt for the $1,000.00 penalty? (as in, they would not have to pay me the $1,000.00 and they would in turn report the debt as paid in full?).

They most likely purchased the debt for significantly less than the actual amount owed, and I do not feel it right to pay their outrageous interest and late fees, especially with the likelyhood that even I pay it off in full, they will sell the paid "debt" to a different collections agency and I will have to start the process all over again.

I am in the process of ordering my credit reports to find out if they have reported to any of the three major bureaus. I am assuming they have, as I have recently been denied credit/refinancing due to "collection accounts" and have not previously had any accounts in collections.

Anyone with suggestions is greatly appreciated.
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#18 Consumer Suggestion

Possibly a violation, let me explain

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

Let me explain why this MIGHT not be a violation. You say that the first letter you received was over 6 months ago. When you ceased calls on Congress Collections, did they stop? If the account was recalled back to the Dr's office, then reassigned to Congress Collections, your cease communications letter would not be valid as it would be considered a new file.

For example, my office handles an office where we are the rpimary placement as well as the 4th placement for the same client. If a consumer was to cease communications when it was the primary placement, the cease communications request would not still apply if the same credit card account came back to this same physical office.

If the collector is collecting for the Dr's office directly and has not purchased the account as a bad debt, then the validation notice that they sent would say that you owe the Dr's office as they are still the creditor.

Now a question and a statement. You say that your insurance was supposed to cover this debt. When you got this initial letter over 6 months ago, you passed along this information to the insurance company, right? You are upset with the collection agency, when this is in collections due to the insurance companies error.

For the statement, you are right. If it is not a case mentioned in the first paragraph, your rights under the FDCPA were violated. You could be entitled up to $1000. Is this more than the debt that you can't afford to pay? Just saying if it is not, then paying an attorney to not even cover the debt which is still a valid debt seems like it does not make a lot of sense.
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