Need Help and Advice With Collector - Please!
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!