Collection Agency for $13.00 ?!?!?!

So I got suckered into subscribing to a local newspaper for a few months. (I had a local route as a kid, thought it was a good idea...)

Cut to now, after refusing to renew my subscription, I get a letter from a collections agency for the renewal cost of $13.00.

I don't care about the $13.00. What I care about is that my credit report will show I've been "taken to collections."

What should I do about this? I could not be more angry.

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Posts

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    this may or may not even be on your credit report.

    I kind of doubt it for $13 but I guess anything is possible

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Call the local newspaper and talk to them about it first?

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    usually what happens is whoever sold the debt to the agency sold it in bulk, and your charge was just lumped in there.

    $13 shouldn't be a big deal in the context of your credit report unless you've had a bunch of previous collections actions; if it's a legit debt you should just pay it

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Did you never get any bills? It just went straight to collections?

    zepherin
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Newspapers (especially local newspapers) are roughly as upstanding as used car salesmen.

    You should call them, and talk to their billing people. If you don't get it erased that way, you might want to try talking to them in person. It's best to assume malice on their part, though. I'm not saying you should yell or anything like that, just don't take them at their word for anything.

    JAGS
  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Newspapers (especially local newspapers) are roughly as upstanding as used car salesmen.

    You should call them, and talk to their billing people. If you don't get it erased that way, you might want to try talking to them in person. It's best to assume malice on their part, though. I'm not saying you should yell or anything like that, just don't take them at their word for anything.

    What he said. Note that if you call the newspaper they'll tell you to call the collection company. And if you call them, guess what'll happen? that's right. So just explain to the newspaper that it will cost them about hum, 20x what you owe them to get the 13$ back. You might have to repeat that step a few hundred times. Hopefully they'll drop it.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Okay, my understanding (I've had this happen once or twice with non-newspaper debts) is that once your debt is sold, it's sold. The collection agency is now responsible for it and they are the ones who will be assholes if you don't pay it. Those debts are bought for pennies on the dollar, and that is how a collections agency makes money. They buy up the debt cheap and then you pay them the full amount. They don't really care what happened or why you owe it, and the original company doesn't care because they don't expect any more from it at this point. I think it's different if the collection is happening in-house.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but over $13 I'd just pay it to the agency and get a receipt saying you paid, and then make damn sure that you aren't still subscribed to that paper and they never darken your doorstep again. The receipt is so that if they hit your credit anyway, which has been known to happen, you have documentation to contest it.

    At this stage, it may not have been reported as anything yet. A lot of people are more likely to pay with the threat of damaged credit than if they've already taken the hit, so sometimes companies will give it a month.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Jam WarriorJam Warrior Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    So did you actively call up and cancel the subscription, within whatever nonsense bounds they set to make it as much of a hassle as possible, or did you just stop paying without warning?

    If the latter then it sucks, but you probably still legit owe them under the terms of your subscription.

    If the former, then on the one hand it is pretty much extortion to pay them and make it go away, but on the other hand, $13 will make it all go away. I guess you need to weigh that up against the value you place on your time fighting it.

    Jam Warrior on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    I've had $10 go to collections and I've fought it, the key thing is you don't want a collections notice on your credit.

    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
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I'd call up the collections agency (don't give any info) just to find out if it is internal collections for the newspaper, or if it's 3rd party collections. If it is internal collections of the newspaper then it probably isn't reported yet and you can settle up and wash your hands of it. If sold then mail a certified letter disputing the claim (best answer here is pretty good), basically a letter saying "this ain't my debt"; this forces the collections agency to give some doc that the debt is in fact yours and that they have a right to collect. Sometimes they don't have the doc, or sometimes it's not worth it to them to follow up.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Sometimes the document is invalid as well, especially if the debt was invalid to begin with. Things like "autorenewing subscriptions that require you to mail in a certificate" are one of those invalid things, unless you expressly stated it was valid.

    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
  • superhappypandasuperhappypanda Zug Island Sport Fishing SeattleRegistered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    Okay, my understanding (I've had this happen once or twice with non-newspaper debts) is that once your debt is sold, it's sold. The collection agency is now responsible for it and they are the ones who will be assholes if you don't pay it. Those debts are bought for pennies on the dollar, and that is how a collections agency makes money. They buy up the debt cheap and then you pay them the full amount. They don't really care what happened or why you owe it, and the original company doesn't care because they don't expect any more from it at this point. I think it's different if the collection is happening in-house.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but over $13 I'd just pay it to the agency and get a receipt saying you paid, and then make damn sure that you aren't still subscribed to that paper and they never darken your doorstep again. The receipt is so that if they hit your credit anyway, which has been known to happen, you have documentation to contest it.

    At this stage, it may not have been reported as anything yet. A lot of people are more likely to pay with the threat of damaged credit than if they've already taken the hit, so sometimes companies will give it a month.

    What Ceres said. I can't emphasize enough to GET IT IN WRITING that your debt is squared away and that the information is to be removed from your credit reports. Without the letter in writing, there is a damn good chance that, even after having paid the debt, the black mark on your credit report will not be removed.

    I have a fairly common name, and one that is the same as my father who does not handle his debt well. For the entire time that I lived in the same state as him, I had to regularly check my credit reports monthly to make sure that his bad debts were not being reported on my account. I've had several accounts of his go into collections, his bankruptcy, etc. etc. etc., as well as some other person entirely unrelated to me and of a documented different race (I'm not saying anything about anyone here, just that it was proof that this was not me) show up on my credit reports. I've spent countless hours over the years trying to keep my credit report clean. It's a righteous pain in the ass, but document everything you can within reason and whenever you get them "saying" they will remove something from your credit report, GET IT IN WRITING (I really can't emphasize this enough).

    In regards to the issue with the person of no relations to me, I had to get the hospital records for the bill which proved it was not me, then I even had to take a day off work and drive to the collections agency to finally get someone to speak to me because they were ignoring my faxes with the corrected information. Once I spoke to a supervisor face to face in person, I was able to get the documents I needed to clear up my credit report.

    And yes, the $13 sucks to get sent to collections for, I had Blockbuster Video threaten me with collections once for an $0.82 in back late fees. I paid it and then cancelled my membership with them. In the end, if you owe some nickel and dime stuff, it might be easier to pay it and be done with it if you legitimately owed the debt for whatever reason.

    Essee
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Man when i worked in collections we wrote off debts under $20 it just wasnt worth the time to work on them.

    This whole thing feels really wrong and stupid; i bet if you scour consumer protection and debt collection laws you will find what they are doing is illegal.

    And i dont want to get your hopes up or anything, but if they ARE breaking the law here it is within the realm of possibility to sue them and get a judgement in your favour for a few thousand dollars.

    Really though in terms of the path of least resistance, paying them off and getting then to ensure in writing that the debt is cleared is the easiest and fastest thing to do. If yu really want to dig your heels in, then lookup the laws and figure it out.

    Al_wat on
  • Akilae729Akilae729 Registered User
    I called the collection agency (couldn't get a hold of the paper after many many phone calls) and asked about their reporting policies.

    They said that since the debt is under $25, it is not reported to credit agencies. I don't know if this is an internal policy or a legal one.

    I'm going to write them tomorrow and get that policy in writing, and if I do, I'm going to pay the $13 and be done with it.

    What a pain in the ass

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  • superhappypandasuperhappypanda Zug Island Sport Fishing SeattleRegistered User regular
    Don't know if they'd do it, but I would get the policy in writing and something else saying that if it 'is' on your report that it is to be removed. I also would not pay them a penny until you get it in writing. I got burned on debt from my father where they told me that it would be removed once the debt was paid and after he cleared it up they refused to do anything. This was about 10 years ago and sure enough, that debt sat on my credit report until the 7 years was up and I could get it removed due to some statute of limitations deal in the law.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    Get the promise to remove in writing.

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  • JAGSJAGS Orlando/VietnamRegistered User
    edited October 2012
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Newspapers (especially local newspapers) are roughly as upstanding as used car salesmen.

    You should call them, and talk to their billing people. If you don't get it erased that way, you might want to try talking to them in person. It's best to assume malice on their part, though. I'm not saying you should yell or anything like that, just don't take them at their word for anything.

    Exact scenario with me too. Called them, waited patiently for them to "fix the problem". Problem solved. Probably the same for magazine subscriptions if you get those watch out! (Btw I used to sell stuff that required a credit check...we didn't give a flying GOOSE about newspapers or magazines on the report. We know those fees are goose)

    JAGS on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Just FYI, promise to remove is illegal. Well not so much illegal as they shouldn't be doing it.

    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
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2012
    Yeah, if you legit have bad debt then it is not reasonable to expect them to remove that from your credit report once you pay it off. You still went delinquent on that debt and it should be on your report. Not that it really applies in this case, but still good idea to get it in writing that they didn't report it.

    Druhim on
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  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    I dont know. I think i disagree about not trying to get it off your record even if it is a legitimate debt. If it isnt illegal, why not? Morality has no place when it comes to debt.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Credit agency rules.

    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
    Druhim
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Plenty of things are legal that are still wrong.

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
    Brolo
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