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Need Help and Advice With Collector - Please!

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Hello,

I'm sorry to say I can't keep this short. My wife and I have been trying very hard to get all our consumer debt paid off. At this point, we have paid off almost $20,000 in credit cards and loans. All we have left is our car, student loan, and house......or so we thought. About 3 weeks ago I received a notice in the mail from a collector called BAM and Associates, LLC in Irvine, CA. Has anyone heard of them?

This is the first notice I've received from this company. Let me give you a quick idea of what this notice looks like. First thing I noticed is that it says "Re: BAM AND ASSOCIATES, LLC vs. 'MY NAME' (removed)". Next, instead of an account number is states "Case No. KLXXXXXXX" (again, removed). Third, right in the middle of the page, about 1/3 of the way down it states "LITIGATION NOTICE". The notice goes on to state that I have chosen to ignore their previous attempts to resolve this matter - remember, this is the first time I've received anything from them. It states, "You are hereby notified that a recommendation to file a lawsuit to collect this debt may be the next step resulting in a judgment entered against you.". It tells me what methods they may be able to use to collect on such a judgment as well as the interest rates involved. Then it states, "If you want to avoid any further legal action, (In my opinion, implying that some sort of legal action has already taken place.) you need to contact our office within 10 days of this notice; otherwise, we will assume you do not intend to pay this debt and litigation will be commenced immediately." It is then signed by one of their Legal Administrators. The back of the form is completely blank. Nowhere is there any statement about my rights to request validation within 30 days. Only statement on the form is "This communication is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose."

Keep in mind, we have been paying our debts off. Some of them have been paid in full, some have been settled. I've dealt with collectors in the past. To some, this may be scary, but not to me. So, I pick up the phone and call the Legal Administrator listed. I tell him that I am investigating his claim and I need to know who the original creditor is. He tells me that it is Citibank. I advised him that the only Citibank account I had was paid off over four years ago. He states that he has a balance of over $1800 and "I can voluntarily pay it now to avoid litigation". A few days pass and I call him back. I ask him for the original account number to continue my investigation into this claim. He first tells me that he doesn't have it. Only after I laugh in his ear does he provide it. After doing so I remember an old, old account that I had w/Citibank years ago. I take this new info and dig through what statements I kept and come up with two collector notices pertaining to this account. One April, 2005 and the other from May, 2005. I know I haven't made any payments on this account since before those two statements. Also, I pulled my annual credit reports from all 3 agencies about a month ago and this account doesn't show on any of them. The SOL in my state on open/revolving accounts is 5 years so I feel confident that any suit brought against me will not succeed. However, armed with only the two collector statements and my most recent credit reports I'm unsure if I have enough evidence to make that defense stick.

On 9/7 I sent them a debt validation letter asking them for many things including proof that the SOL has not expired. We'll see what comes back. Based on this lengthy bit of info, does anyone think that this collector violated the FDCPA by the way their LITIGATION NOTICE is constructed and flat out threatening to sue me on a debt that is past SOL if I don't contact them within 10 days. My wife was quite upset when I got home the day it was delivered. Only after I called and spoke with them and then explained to her it must be a mistake because we had paid off the Citibank card did she calm down (of course this is an old account I had forgotten about). BTW, the original debt listed on the two statements from 2005 is approx $280.00 and now it's over $1800. Is that inflated just to attempt to get more money from me?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!




sandra.nelson15
Posts: 129
Credits: 10875.45

Sub: #1 Welcome to the forums!!! Your situation is really very complicat
Thu, 09/08/2011 - 22:52

Welcome to the forums!!!
Your situation is really very complicated. I think this is a scam. They are trying to scare you. You can file a complaint against them to the State Attorney General or FTC.




Lian
Debt Samaritan
Posts: 234
Credits: 2709.75

Sub: #2 It appears, from your statement of the history, that the debt co
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 03:23

It appears, from your statement of the history, that the debt collector did send you a collection (dunning) notice, and you did not then require debt validation within the 30-day period prescribed by FDCPA 809(b), so resumption of their collection activities does not appear to be barred under FDCPA 809(b). Their lack of reporting to a CRA is not an issue, as they had no requirement to have done so. That has been to your advantage, not disadvantage.

It is not per se illegal for a debt collector to use intent to sue as a means to collect the debt. Under FDCPA 807 (5), it is illegal for them to represent an intent to sue if they cant legally take such action, or dont actually have the intent to do so. You would have to show that they had no intent to take legal action at the time they made that representation. Kinda a tall order to prove lack of intent.

Expiration of SOL does not prevent them from bringing legal action. You cant ask a debt collector to determine expiration of SOL. That is a legal assertion made by the consumer at trial, and is dependent upon a showing before a judge. Debt collectors dont determine your SOL, and cant be said to lack ability to sue based on your potential legal defense against such action. If you raise an SOL defense in court and prevail, the case will be summarily dismissed by the judge without going into its merits, so whether or not you owe the debt is not something that will even be addressed by the court. Expiration of SOL makes it legally uncollectible regardless of any determination of its legitimacy.

I dont see an FDCPA violation in the scenario you describe.




skydivr7673


Posts: 2044
Credits: 57965.461082155

Sub: #3 With plenty of respect to Lian, I am going to have to disagree w
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 05:51

With plenty of respect to Lian, I am going to have to disagree with that post.
Quote:

It appears, from your statement of the history, that the debt collector did send you a collection (dunning) notice, and you did not then require debt validation within the 30-day period prescribed by FDCPA 809(b), so resumption of their collection activities does not appear to be barred under FDCPA 809(b). Their lack of reporting to a CRA is not an issue, as they had no requirement to have done so. That has been to your advantage, not disadvantage.


Hang on there, you are assuming that the collection notices he received in 2005 were from this same debt collector. This is really not very likely, as debt collectors do not want to sit on an account this long. This is why accounts are bought and sold so many times--a CA will spend a certain amount of time on the account, if they cannot make any headway on it, they sell it to a junk debt buyer. And BAM sounds like a JDB to me. The only way that the 30 day issue applies here is if those notices from six years ago were sent by this same debt collector. Chances are good that they are not.

Quote:
It is not per se illegal for a debt collector to use intent to sue as a means to collect the debt. Under FDCPA 807 (5), it is illegal for them to represent an intent to sue if they cant legally take such action, or dont actually have the intent to do so. You would have to show that they had no intent to take legal action at the time they made that representation. Kinda a tall order to prove lack of intent.


While this is correct, the fact is this--legally speaking, once the SOL expires, then a lawsuit is not an option. The fact that they threatened to sue on a time-barred debt IS an FDCPA violation. That is the entire reason for the laws about SOL--remember this now--these are LAWS. If you try to sue someone when the SOL has passed, then you are acting against a LAW. And the FDCPA specifically prohibits threatening any action that is against a law.

Quote:
Expiration of SOL does not prevent them from bringing legal action.


It is supposed to do exactly that, yes. The fact that many debt collectors ignore it doesnt change the scope or the intent of the law itself. And that is what comes into play in this issue.

Quote:
You cant ask a debt collector to determine expiration of SOL.


This is also false, on several levels. Think about the FCRA--a debt collector can report a debt on your credit report. As a "furnisher of information" they are ABSOLUTELY required to determine when the SOL starts on a debt. And while the FCRA doesnt apply specifically in this case because the CA didnt report on his credit, the law is still what the law is. Remember this too--the burden of proof most definitely is on them as the would-be plaintiff, so yes, you CAN ask them to do so, and you SHOULD. But you should also not rely on their claims either if possible.

The broke the law. They never should have threatened to take action in a manner that is time-barred.

Quote:
That is a legal assertion made by the consumer at trial, and is dependent upon a showing before a judge.


Again, this is incorrect. This is more than just a legal assertion made at trial. The reason why it shows up so often as a legal assertion at trial is because the CA's violate the law in order to get to trial. If it were not the law as I am telling you it is, then there would be no basis for that "legal assertion at trial" to be cause for immediate dismissal of the cases. When you invoke SOL as a defense, what you are saying to the court is "Your Honor, the plaintiff in this case filed this suit in violation of this state's laws because they filed suit against me on this debt after the law has said they can no longer do so". Pointing out that a law has been violated, which is what SOL defense is, is not just a "legal assertion". If the law had not been broken in the first place there would be nothing to assert.

Quote:
Debt collectors dont determine your SOL, and cant be said to lack ability to sue based on your potential legal defense against such action.


They do not determine it but the law makes them responsible for knowing it. Thats a fact.

Quote:
If you raise an SOL defense in court and prevail, the case will be summarily dismissed by the judge without going into its merits, so whether or not you owe the debt is not something that will even be addressed by the court.


This is because the SOL is a law. And whenever a third party debt collector violates ANY LAW in the course of trying to collect a debt, they have violated the FDCPA. At the same time, if they threaten to take any action that violates ANY LAW, they are violating the FDCPA. The FDCPA makes no distinction as to what law they can break vs what law they cannot--it states that they cannot take or threaten to take any action that violates laws.

Quote:
Expiration of SOL makes it legally uncollectible regardless of any determination of its legitimacy.


This is also incorrect. Expiration of SOL only means they cannot sue you to try to collect. The debt is not called legally uncollectable...they just cannot resort to suing you to try to collect it. They can still contact you, send you letters demanding payment, etc etc.

Again, I have much respect for you and your knowledgeable posts, Lian, I just wanted to clear this up so that our members have the correct information. The law does not have to state a penalty for its violation in order for the FDCPA to say "debt collectors cannot break that law". The exact wording of the FDCPA tells the story on this one. Look in section 807, there are two points specifically noted that apply. First, a CA cannot take any action or threaten to take that action if the action is not legal. Second, a CA cannot misrepresent the amount, character, or legal status of any debt. So, when a debt collectors says "we are going to sue you, and you will have to pay this much interest, these legal fees, etc etc", which is what happened in this case, they have misrepresented the legal status of the debt as "within legal SOL". Make no mistake, these CAs know how old the debts are, they know when they were opened.




paulmergel


Posts: 15508
Credits: 135761.15272958

Sub: #4 i need more info
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 06:19

great post as always skydiver,but a few things distrub me on this.i need some more info from the OP.

1)do you have a number for this bottomfeeder as i found nothing with a google search
2)you said your SOL was 5yrs for your state.i'm guessing you are in CA right?

you see even if this place had legal right to sue they would have to do it in your city,county,village,or bourough.you seem to have done your footwork OP,but again i suspect either a bottomfeeder using a legit business name,or just another bottomfeeder that needs to use verbage to collect on a "time barred"debt.please try to provide a number because again nothing regarding collections came up with a google search of the name BAM AND ASSOCIATES.i suspect bottomfeeding scum here.




mariemegge
Posts: 168
Credits: 7385.55

Sub: #5 Bam
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 07:09

Bottom line is, these guys are probably trying to collect on an old debt and my guess is that they won't be able to produce validation. From my research they are scumbags and in hiding. They don't have a website, and when asked about their location and actual business, they are vague and either refuse to answer questions or suggest that you speak with their supervisor. And, yes, they do buy bad debt.

They claim that they are a "Legal Firm" - what's that? If it was an actual law firm, they would refer to themselves as a law firm. They also claim to have attorneys on staff. The fact that they don't have a website, and they're extremely vague with their answers is probably enough to put your mind at ease. I doubt they'll be able to come after you for anything. So, for now sit back and wait for that validation, which will likely never arrive. If it does (again, I highly doubt you will receive anything from these morons), then you can start looking into SOL and FDCPA violations. Or, if you're angry that they're trying to scam you, and you're so inclined, and want to put the effort into it now, go for it.

Either way, below is some address information I was able to dig up.

BAM Group
7515 W.Encanto Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85001




jer_mc
Posts: 20
Credits: 581.2

Sub: #6 OP Reply
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 07:35

Thanks for all the replies.

To show the same respect for the second reply, I may have been unclear. This is the first notice that I recieved from this collection agency. Actually, when questioned on it, he admitted to me that they bought the debt from one of the agencies who sent me a notice in 2005. Does this mean that this collector is in violation of the FDCPA? Also, since I requested the information on the SOL from him, does he have to provide to me this information? Does anyone have any idea how I can get this directly from Citibank? Will they give it to me and do they care about resetting the SOL if I talk to them since they've sold the debt? I don't have any of the statements from them, and even if I did, how could I prove that they were the last statements and no payments were paid after?

The information that I have, directly from the notice, is BAM and Associates, LLC. 4521 Campus Dr, Ste 282, Irvine, CA 92612. Telephone is 800-303-5033, fax 714-975-9955. This is the address where the DV letter was sent. Also, my state is WV, not CA. I have researched online the SOL in WV and get two answers, 10 years (based on written contracts) and 5 years (based on verbal/open accounts). I decided that 5 is most likely correct after doing a search for lawyers who handle these types of cases and a prominant WV law firm who handles FDCPA cases state on their website that the SOL for credit card cases is 5 years. Assuming since they do this for a living in this state they are correct.

Next, if sued, I certainly will counter with the violations I believe they have committed. Generally it is my understanding that if the creditor feels you have a solid case and know what you're doing then they will dismiss. How can I force them to remove the debt and NOT sell it to someone else if I countersue? Is that possible? I'm really not trying to get their money, however, I don't want them to drop this only because they jerked the wrong chain only to have to do this again and again. If I counter, does that give me some leverage to put this thing to bed?

Thanks!




skydivr7673


Posts: 2044
Credits: 57965.461082155

Sub: #7 Quote:This is the first notice that I recieved from this collect
Fri, 09/09/2011 - 11:38

Quote:
This is the first notice that I recieved from this collection agency.


In that case, I would be contacting them in writing and disputing the debt--send them a certified letter requesting full and proper validation in accordance with the FDCPA. This is supposed to do one of two things--they are supposed to either stop all collection activity, obtain validation from the original creditor, send it to you, and only then can they start trying to collect again...OR, they are to stop all contact and leave you alone. Those are the two legal options they have. Incidentally, I am a wise guy, so if it were me, my letter to them would point out that they are already in violation of the FDCPA because they are required to provide you with a disclosure of rights within 5 days of initial contact and they did not do so.

Quote:
Actually, when questioned on it, he admitted to me that they bought the debt from one of the agencies who sent me a notice in 2005. Does this mean that this collector is in violation of the FDCPA?


No, no violation there.

Quote:
Also, since I requested the information on the SOL from him, does he have to provide to me this information? Does anyone have any idea how I can get this directly from Citibank? Will they give it to me and do they care about resetting the SOL if I talk to them since they've sold the debt? I don't have any of the statements from them, and even if I did, how could I prove that they were the last statements and no payments were paid after?


The short answer is no, they are required to validate the debt when it is disputed. But they are not specifically required to provide you with the age of the debt. Generally speaking, information on when the debt was originated, when it became past due, etc etc, is typically a part of proper validation anyways, but if you specifically ask for SOL info, the law does not require them to provide that. As for Citibank, they are not going to be able to help you. They sold this debt long ago and they will not have any records on it today. And no, the SOL clock cannot be restarted simply because you contacted someone to ask about a debt. At this time, I would not worry about proving the age of the debt, because the debt collector is the party that has the burden of proof upon them. Dispute it, request validation by sending them that certified letter, and see what they send you. Oh, and when you do that, do not send that long, drawn out letter that is all over the internet....all you really need to do is identify yourself and the debt in question(use any account numbers they have listed on the letter to do that), and then say something like:


Quote:

To Whom it May Concern:

This shall serve as your notice that I hereby dispute your claims of indebtedness for the above-identified account. Please provide full and proper validation in accordance with section 809 of the FDCPA. You may provide a copy of this full and proper validation to the mailing address listed below once you receive it from the original creditor. As I know you are aware, you are bound by the FDCPA to cease any and all collection effort until such time that you provide said validation to me. Thank you for your cooperation.

Respectfully,

(your name and address)


Quote:
The information that I have, directly from the notice, is BAM and Associates, LLC. 4521 Campus Dr, Ste 282, Irvine, CA 92612. Telephone is 800-303-5033, fax 714-975-9955. This is the address where the DV letter was sent. Also, my state is WV, not CA.


OK, so I see that you already sent a DV letter. I hope you sent it certified mail so you can prove you sent it. When I did a search on the phone number I found a BBB report for them at a different address:

http://www.la.bbb.org/busine ss-reviews/Collection-Agencies/BAM-Financial-LLC-in-Fountain-Valley-CA-1 00104793

The address listed there is an apartment complex, I verified this through Google Earth. The address you have for them is actually a Mailboxes Etc store, which means that this company is using a post office box at that store as their mailing address.

Quote:
Next, if sued, I certainly will counter with the violations I believe they have committed. Generally it is my understanding that if the creditor feels you have a solid case and know what you're doing then they will dismiss. How can I force them to remove the debt and NOT sell it to someone else if I countersue?


Well, first of all, I dont see these guys suing you. They are quite shady in the way they do things. But if they did, generally I would countersue for violations. In the process, such a court case would basically turn into negotiations--they might offer to cease all collection if you agree to withdraw your counterclaim, etc etc. A countersuit that is valid provides you with leverage. With clowns like these guys, though, if they think you might sue them for their violations, and they know you have a good case, often they blink first.




jer_mc
Posts: 20
Credits: 581.2

Sub: #8 Thanks again for all the good advice! If the address that they
Sat, 09/10/2011 - 05:26

Thanks again for all the good advice!

If the address that they have listed is a store like mailboxes, etc., then will that affect my DV letter that sent validated since one of the CA agents will not be the one signing for it?

Thanks!




lizabethwolin
Posts: 12
Credits: 269.6

Sub: #9 Mailboxes ETC acts as their agent for accepting certified mail.
Sat, 09/10/2011 - 08:37

Mailboxes ETC acts as their agent for accepting certified mail. Same as them signing.




mbengue39
Posts: 1
Credits: 130.05

Sub: #10 Need Help and Advice With Collector - Please!
Mon, 09/12/2011 - 19:25

Many things Lian said contradict what I read in every forum I???ve been. You always send a Request to collection agency asking them to validate the debt they pretend you owe. ???Expiration of SOL does not prevent them from bringing legal action??? certainly but then you file a motion with the court to dismiss based on the fact that their claim is not legitimate. You should have gotten a lawyer long time ago, don???t try to deal with that mess alone. Once you sent your DV in certified mail and never got proof that the debt is legit you should refer them to your lawyer for further action. Once your lawyer starts handling the case you???ll go with him through all the violation committed by the Collection Agency to file a countersuit.




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