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Palmer & Associates (letter)

Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
So today I got a letter from Palmer, Reifler & Associates. They accuse me of shoplifting at a store I have never been to in my life.

They also state this is a second notice, I never got a first notice from these folks.

I have called the store (edit: Riteaid) that they have listed in the letter, and they insist that it was always located in the same location. This location I have never been too in all my years of living in the city.

The law firm states that I owe them $250 for an event that happened on 4/21/2005. I know that the statute of limitations has ended (1 year in my state) for criminal charges, but I was wondering if their threat of a civil suit holds any water for an event they state happened 4 years ago. They also state I was a minor at this time (pursuant of a state code), which is actually impossible.

The internet states that these people are scammers, has anyone had any experience with these folks? are they legit? or should I just send them a bag of flaming dog poop in the mail?

Anon the Felon on

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    GanluanGanluan Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well considering they identified your age incorrectly among other things, I'll say scam. Instead of sending them money, send them a bogus money order from Nigerian royalty.

    No seriously don't do that :P

    Ganluan on
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    GuffreyGuffrey Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Since you seem to not want to mention which store in the open thread, I'm sending you a PM. I may be able to offer some insight.

    Edit: Just saw you put the store name in. I'll just copy paste the pm here.

    Do you mind mentioning which store? I am a Loss Prevention Officer for a major retailer. I believe this is the firm we use. Basically, in at least the state I work in, retailers can sue shoplifters in civil court for damages. They have a formula they use, but basically it has to do with the cost of hiring security, the fact that while security is dealing with the shoplifter others may be stealing, buying and running camera systems, etc. I tell you this because while they may be accused of scamming (and a quick google search tells me this is true), they certainly are the "real deal" in other respects.

    Now, you say you didn't do it, haven't been to the store, etc., so I believe you. In fact, with all the incorrect info, I doubt anything could really come of it. But I would be proactive in the situation. Even though this shouldn't be your problem, since it isn't your mistake, I would do all I can to make it go away. I'd contact the store and explain the situation. They should be able to look you up in the system, and notice that when your name doesn't come up, that you didn't do anything. I'd also contact the law firm and let them they must be after the wrong person

    Guffrey on
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    matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Unless there was an actual criminal or civil judgment against you, you don't owe them anything. Chances are there's a defendant with your same name, they're trying to collect on something that happened 4 years ago, and you were the first one in the phone book or something of the sort. Call them, explain the situation.

    matt has a problem on
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    People are on the right track with "politely set them straight" - however, do it in writing and request written confirmation.

    PeregrineFalcon on
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    Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, I've read that the statute of limitations for civil cases is approx 1 year after the date of the incident. Which means that, considering they are saying this happened in 2005, they have passed the statute of limitations. Regardless of the truth of this allegation.

    They can do nothing but attempt to get extorted money. I intend on contacting my lawyer on Monday and finding out the legitimacy of this letter. As well as calling the Riteaid corporate office and seeing if they have a claim. Then kindly notifying them that they can not press civil charges at this time.

    Matthas, I don't think I was randomly picked. I am a felon (the forum name is partially true), and so am a prime target for these kinds of scams/things. They think they can harp on my fear of not getting in trouble, to get me to pay. Its happened once before (different story).

    The issue here, Guffrey, is; why is something like this coming up 4 years after the date they say? do they (law firm and retailer) not realize there is no legal recourse they can take? Why has it taken them 4 years to make a motion on this fictional incident?

    Anon the Felon on
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    EverywhereasignEverywhereasign Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The issue here, Guffrey, is; why is something like this coming up 4 years after the date they say? do they (law firm and retailer) not realize there is no legal recourse they can take? Why has it taken them 4 years to make a motion on this fictional incident?

    It's very possible that they've been looking for the right guy. Perhaps someone with your name, or someone that used your name. Now they're going through old files and clearing things up. $250 is not something they would keep on top of, especially if it involved a minor. You said you were going to contact your lawyer, excellent. If they're at all decent at their job, they'll pick up the phone and this problem will rapidly go away. I would allow your Lawyer to tell them that they can't press charges, I wouldn't call them yourself and tell them that. IMHO Lawyers don't like getting told what they can and can't do by John Q Public.

    Everywhereasign on
    "What are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!"
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    GuffreyGuffrey Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I have no idea why it is just now coming up. However, I doubt they just picked you specifically because of your past. Like the others, I think it was someone with the same name that they have been trying to track down. My point was they are a real law firm that gets real verdicts in their favor, so even though you aren't guilty, I would be proactive and get things taken care of.

    Guffrey on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Yeah, sounds like you either ignore it, or get a letter of rejection sent. Probably better to do the latter, as you don't know how far they'd go after you, even though they appear to have nothing on you

    Kalkino on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I would also contact the Legal Aid Society in your county of residence and ask for some legal assistance. They'll give it to you for free if you're below a certain income, and for cheap otherwise.

    Feral on
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    oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's a scare letter. I seriously doubt anything will happen.

    You might find this WSJ article interesting.

    "A partner at the law firm has said that it sends out about 1.2 million civil-recovery demand letters a year but follows up by suing fewer than 10 times a year."

    oldsak on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Are there really law firms in the business of sending out completely fake letters like this? God damn.

    Anyway, the correct way to cover your ass here is to contact them (preferably in writing) and tell them basically what you said in the OP: that all their information is wrong, that you've never been to the store they claim you stole from, and that you don't owe them any money.

    If it's a complete scam, that will probably be the end of it. If it's an error on the part of the firm, that will also be the end of it.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    tofutofu Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    They could be sending it to you by mistake, the person probably shares a name with you. Regardless there are still some legal ramifications for you I believe, contact them ASAP and try to explain they're sending their mail to the wrong person.

    tofu on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well these letters do get sent out by legitimate firms or agencies, on the basis that while the statute of limitations may have expired, the person may admit liability and pay something

    Kalkino on
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    Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    People are on the right track with "politely set them straight" - however, do it in writing and request written confirmation.

    And if it all continues, counter-sue for mental distress or something :p

    Teslan26 on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Scare tactic to get you to pay money.

    I wouldn't even worry about getting a lawyer and just tuck the letter away and tell them if they want to charge you with a crime, and have proof, they better file a report with the police. Probably some bad debt or someone who shoplifted and was caught and stupidly gave his name or the name of someone else.

    Don't go out of your way to contact these people as they're probably looking for John Doe out of the thousands of John Does, and likely sent this out to everyone in the area with the name. So calling up and going "gotta charge me with a crime" will likely get them to actually do it.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    CoJoeTheLawyerCoJoeTheLawyer Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    Are there really law firms in the business of sending out completely fake letters like this? God damn.

    Yes, sadly.

    Most collection agencies will partner up with less-than-scrupulous law firms in order to attempt to collect on debts, whether real, fake or somewhere in-between. Generally, the school of though is for the cost of a letter, they can scare a certain percentage of people into paying, which will turn a tidy profit for everyone involved. A letter from a law firm will carry more weight, especially if the implied threat is a lawsuit. Also, the whole "second notice" thing is a trick: likely, there never was a first notice, but by saying its a second notice, it make you nervous that you made a mistake.

    My advice is if you don't think that this is real, contact the firm and ask for evidence within a set amount of time. They should be able to provide you with information concerning the alleged theft, costs, etc. The worst thing you can do is just pay the amount and hope they go away.

    CoJoeTheLawyer on

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    streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I had a man call me--screaming & swearing--from a "private investigator" agency. He acted like he was a cop, & kept calling himself a detective--although that's not legit, because he didn't have a license. (I looked him up.) He was trying to get me to pay him 200 dollars for 1-900 calls that he claimed I'd made that had accrued 1000s in charges. He kept asking me if I wanted my employers to know I was a "sick little man who had to jerk it". (I was self-employed) I asked him from which phone line? and he said, "The one I called you on, asshole"--it happened to be my cell phone :) so I laughed & hung up.

    He continued to call me for 6 months.

    I looked him up, he worked for a real company, but he wasn't a PI despite his claims... So, it does happen! I bet he called 20, 30, 40 people a day. Imagine how many people would panic & pay him? The threat of him telling your wife/boss/etc probably works on some people because when something insane happens, it's hard to explain that to people in a way that is believable.

    streever on
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    Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    UPDATE:

    Called my lawyer, he said to contact the RITEAID security office and see if they had anything on me. Then if they didn't, to write the law firm telling them that I know they have no evidence, and to please cease and desist.

    My lawyer knew there was a SOL on civil cases, but didn't know it off the top of his head, and didn't want to break out the law books. But her verified that the criminal SOL has long since past, and I have no worry about criminal charges.

    I hate this stuff...stupid scammers.

    Anon the Felon on
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    Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Update: After talking with a kind woman at Riteaid central security office, she said its an old claim, with an address mix up. So Palmer is just now catching up to me.

    I retorted with "Ok, show me the evidence, official report, and actual claimed damages"

    There was a pause...

    "You know what? thats so long ago, I don't really want to waste my time digging all that stuff up, I'll just close the claim, ok?"
    me: "ok, so I can just ignore Palmer?"
    her: " yup, just gonna close it up, if you get any more letters, call me."
    me:" Thank you very much <Name>, glad we could work this out".

    Worked out well for me, second I asked them to actually prove it, they said "4 years? SCREW THAT!".

    Anon the Felon on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Most likely because there was nothing to prove other than some guy named [Anon the Felon] shop lifted and gave his name or something.

    Also, the irony of your name is great.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    CoJoeTheLawyerCoJoeTheLawyer Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Update: After talking with a kind woman at Riteaid central security office, she said its an old claim, with an address mix up. So Palmer is just now catching up to me.

    I retorted with "Ok, show me the evidence, official report, and actual claimed damages"

    There was a pause...

    "You know what? thats so long ago, I don't really want to waste my time digging all that stuff up, I'll just close the claim, ok?"
    me: "ok, so I can just ignore Palmer?"
    her: " yup, just gonna close it up, if you get any more letters, call me."
    me:" Thank you very much <Name>, glad we could work this out".

    Worked out well for me, second I asked them to actually prove it, they said "4 years? SCREW THAT!".

    That's great new...BUT you really want to get that in writing. Otherwise you're liable to wake up 6 months from now to another letter from Palmer & Associates with the exact same claims against you. She may decide to simply dump the file on another person and let them do the dirty work.

    CoJoeTheLawyer on

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    Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    oh I already did request a letter, and if I don't get one by next Friday, I'll be calling her back to ask why.

    Anon the Felon on
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