I just received a phone call from a collection agency telling me I owe some $435 to Consumer Media Services for magazine subscriptions from 1997 (it's 2004). The woman quickly went through a whole spiel about how they reached a settlement with CMS and that if I could pay them immediately I could settle the matter once and for all for a mere $174. Whenever I tried to interrupt her she would say she hadn't finished. Finally it was my turn to speak and I asked for some proof. She told me that CMS had a recording of me agreeing to a subscription for 3 magazines. For the life of me I could not remember this. I then asked her if she could provide the proof via fax and she said I would have to send a written request to some P.O. Box. I also had to ask for a reference # which she then provided. First of all I have not ever received any sort of letter or other correspondence from CMS prior to this. For well past 10 years I have not warranted the attention of collection agencies and I was taken aback by the unimaginable level of rudeness. It's almost like this women assumed I was some low level scum of the earth and she would not even listen to me for a second without interrupting me. The only thing she wanted to know from me is if I had the $174 in my account and if I was ready to settle this today. Needless to say I hung up without settling. I decided to do some detective work. Since for tax reasons I must keep all my bank records, I happened to have my bank statements from 1997. I found a charge to something called MOS for magazine subscriptions in 7/97 and 8/97 for $62.14 also a charge for $335 in 10/27. Next to the charge for $335 i had written "will credit $335". the next month I had a credit for that amount. I can not find any other documents regarding the matter but I can remember calling and cancelling because I was not receiving the right magazines. The only magazine I was receiving was TV Guide. I still had paid them a total of $124.28 which was I think was payment for the TV guide which is the only magazine I agreed to keep getting for the next 3 years. I'm not even sure if that is how it went down it was so long ago. Isn't there a statute of limitations on this kind of thing? Anyway no other charges were ever made to my banking account (which has remained same). If I owed them all this money why haven't they just charged my account or contacted me? Why now? Do I have to look forward to a lifetime of pursuit by these people? After finding the bank statements I called the collection agency back with my referral number and spoke to someone else who was nicer until I said I wasn't going to pay them anything. She then said that she would refer me back to the client. I told her go ahead and that I would love for them to call me and play me the recording they allegedly have (both the one where they tricked me into ordering and the one where I cancelled). Is there really a threat of this company taking me to court of damaging my credit report? Do I need to take this serious? So far there is nothing on my credit report but what happens now? This whole thing seems an absolute waste of my time. Should I have just paid the $174? This really is an awful feeling when you work so hard to pay your bills on time and keep your credit clean. To think that some company can come along and hold your financial credit hostage like this. It's almost like blackmail.
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