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Settling with a Collection Agency - Email/SoL/"Hold It"

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I've been working with a collection agency (Northstar) to settle a Discover Card debt. I've received the DV letter in regular mail from them, but all future communication/negotiation they are now demanding be through email or phone, "because regular mail takes too long." If I accept their offer, I'm looking for a "Paid in Full" settlement letter from them. Legally, is email (including negotiations/confirmation letters) just as good as regular mail?

Their settlement offer is 40% of the total debt (including fees). They say they do not have commission, but now that it's the end of the month the Northstar representative suddenly became rude. I've made no promises to her during the 3 months I've been talking with them, but when I said I want to make a settlement offer on Aug.10th she even called me a "BS liar". She also said "would get in trouble" if I didn't pay something (like $50) today to hold the account and *raised* the settlement offer to 50% (I will not accept more than 40%)... so it sounds like she needs me to make her quota for the month or something(?). Would I be pushing it to counter-offer at 30%? Should I pay the $50 for them to "hold it" (but I read elsewhere that a "hold it" fee is nothing and just goes into a black hole)?

How much worse can a collection agency make things? Can she tell/recommend Discover Card to sue me and not settle with me? Would I be better to try to work with Discover Card directly and not pay Northstar $50 to hold it?

The debt originated when I lived in California (4yr SoL), but I now live in Arizona (a 6yr SoL). Which state applies for the SoL?

Any advice welcome.




I wouldn't pay them any money to "Hold" an offer. Either they make the offer in writing with dates on it that you specify or they don't. If you want that date to be August 10th then either they accept your offer of 40% and give you until August 10th to pay it or they don't and sue. She is just trying to screw you out of 10% and get an extra $50 for some bogus fee because you want to wait until the 10th. Tell them to either send a letter in writing with the terms on it as you discussed by August 10th or you will have to skip them and settle with the next agency you are working with on other debts which will wipe out your debt settlement cash again for another year. I would also insist that they send the offer to you via mail with an original signature on it. I would not accept an email with no signature. Personally I would force them to keep using snail mail anyway. I see no advantages to you in giving them your email address and negotiating via email which will probably just end up in you getting a bunch of email spam from them.

Unfortunately the SOL would default to the state you live in currently more than likely. I think there is a grace period on that if you just moved but if you have lived there over a year and are legally a resident of that state then I suspect the sol would default to that state. To be sure you would need to check with a lawyer since there is a gray area you could fall in.

Sub: #1 posted on Wed, 07/30/2008 - 23:19

DOLLARSandSINCE DOLLARSandSINCE
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E-mails would not hold up in court so I would stick with USPS. They can demand all they want but you have the money and if they want it they'll have to play by your rules. Are you sure that Discover still owns the acct? 40% sounds about right for Discover( My DW's last offer was 35%) but you want to make sure that they still own it before trying to negotiate straight with the OC. I doubt seriously that they would report it as paid in full for 40% though. I think the best you would see is settled in full. One thing you would have to stipulate regardless of reporting is if you settle for 40% that they cannot sell the balance. It might mean they issue a 1099C for the forgiven balance over $600 but it would be worth it to not have this show back up a few years later with another bottom feeder.

SOL would be based on where you live now. What is the DOFD on the account and when was the last payment?

Sub: #2 posted on Wed, 07/30/2008 - 23:25

NASCAR_Devil NASCAR_Devil
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Thanks for the information. I will specify they cannot sell any balance. "Settled in Full" should be fine as I mainly do not want a "remaining balance" being sold off. I'm suspecting Northstar owns it until the end of the month, which could be why she wants me to pay something this month so she can convince her superiors to retain the account.

I suspect after I reject paying Northstar $50 then Discover Card may own the account again. To avoid Discover Card filing legal action I will attempt to contact them now & offer a 35%-40% settlement directly, so should the account fall back into their hands they can quickly settle with me directly. If Discover will not own the account in August then I will attempt to find out who does own it (I suspect a new collections agency would contact me).

The last payment on the account was made 2 years ago, but I also have other debts that may pass 4 years (not 6 years for Arizona's SoL).

Sub: #3 posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 00:09

andrewpi7 andrewpi7

(Posts: 3 | Credits: 1.67)

If this thing is 2 years old then I really doubt this CA is going to pass it back to Discover. I think she is bluffing on the August date and trying to make it sound more important than it really is to have this thing paid off prior to August. They aren't going to pass this thing anywhere in 10 days. If you guys have a deal then it isn't going to affect the deal if they wait until the 10th the 20th or even 2 months. Just make sure you get the date in writing along with your settled in full letter. It is going to take them at least 5 days to get you the agreement in the mail anyway and they need to give you another 5 days to get it back to them. The 10th is the earliest they are going to see this money anyway now. Oh and one more thing DO NOT pay them over the phone electronically out of your bank account. Send them a certified check or a cashiers check. If you give them electronic access to your account you will get screwed more than likely. They will withdraw more than you agree too.

Sub: #4 posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 02:45

DOLLARSandSINCE DOLLARSandSINCE
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By "assigning" this account to Northstar, discover no longer owns it. Northstar simply bought it as part of a portfolio and possibly has no documentation other than the account itemized on a portofolio when they bought it.

If you approach discover, they will refer you to the "new" owner and won't have anything to do with you. Also, if this account was "written off" then the underwriters probably covered the "loss" and no one was really harmmed or injured because of this deliquency.

What you need to do is try and get them to validate this account and that may trigger then to file suit. You then demand they show the docs to the judge and when they can't you'll win.

They most likely got this account for $20 and are trying to milk the full amount from you so if you make any offers, give them $20 dollars and tell them that's the last payment you'll make. This matter would be better resolved in the court as they will not agree to anything but your continued payments.

Quote:
How much worse can a collection agency make things? Can she tell/recommend Discover Card to sue me and not settle with me? Would I be better to try to work with Discover Card directly and not pay Northstar $50 to hold it?

Sub: #5 posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 12:26

Unregistered


NorthStar is a CA, not a JDB and Discover rarely sells accounts that are still w/in SOL. Your CR's will tell you if Discover still owns the debt. If they have a $0 balance and a "sold to another lender" notation = sold.

Sub: #6 posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 16:31

NASCAR_Devil NASCAR_Devil
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(Posts: 4666 | Credits: 308.23)

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