member profile picture

Posts: 2296
Credits: 26833.97

Does anyone know if utility/gas companies are bound by the Fair Credit Billing Act? I am helping my dad with the gas company, here's the problem:

He bought a new house and moved last June 2006. He didn't sell his old house until Feb 2007. For the 7 months he wasn't living there, he kept the thermostat at 55 just so the pipes wouldn't freeze. Paid his bills every month, they averaged about $69/mo.

2/16/07 my dad called the gas company and cancelled his service. He also told them to perform a final meter reading for his final bill.

They never came to read the meter. When they sent his final bill, it was an "estimated" reading and the bill was for $325.00. He calculated his own estimate of the actual usage, and sent them $57.00. He also wrote a letter disputing their estimate, and told them to go get an actual reading, at which point he would pay the difference.

They received his letter; they even sent him a letter back acknowledging that they made an error in reading the meter, their bill was incorrect, they would cancel the bill and send him a new one.

They never sent a new bill. Instead they sent the account to a collections agency (RPM LLC), and put the disputed balance on his credit report.

My dad actually is having some fun with the CA whenever they call him. He ties them up on the phone for about a half-hour just debating, and ultimately they always hang up on him. Nonetheless, Nicor is still trying to get him to pay for a billing error which they admitted in writing.

I'm writing a letter to them, but just wondering if it will be effective for me to quote the FCBA. Or does the FCBA only apply to open-ended credit card accounts?

Here is my letter:

[quote][justify:c716da64f7]To Whom It May Concern:

For over 24 years I lived at >; and for those 24 years I have been a loyal customer of Nicor Gas. In June 2006, I purchased and moved to a new home in Indiana. I did not sell my old home in Lyons until February 2007, and in the interim I used minimal amounts of gas solely to keep the building heated at 55???? to prevent the pipes from freezing.

I received my 2nd to last bill from you on 1/23/07, a copy of which is attached. The total bill was for $69.54, which I promptly paid on 2/9/07. On 2/16/07 I called your phone # at 1-888-NICOR-4U and cancelled my service; at that time I also requested an actual meter reading for the final bill.

Your company did not perform an actual meter reading, as requested. Instead, my final bill from you showed an ???????estimated??????? reading of 8138 on 2/20/07. The resulting charges, based on your estimated reading, amounted to $325.09 (copy enclosed).

I do not believe that 24 days of gas usage, used solely to keep the house at 55????, would amount to 380 therms. I therefore calculated my own estimate of the actual usage, and submitted payment in the amount of $50.57. Along with my payment, I disputed the balance you claimed owed and again requested an actual meter reading. A copy of my dispute is enclosed.

Your office received my dispute, and on 3/27/07 Nicor sent me a letter confirming that: 1) it had made an error in reading the meter, which resulted in incorrect billing; 2) the 2/20/07 bill had been ???????cancelled???????; and 3) that I would be receiving a ???????new??????? bill for the correct amount. (A copy of this letter is also enclosed for your review).

On 4/18/07, I called your customer service and spoke with ???????Paul???????, who indicated that the account was still being reconciled and they had not issued a corrected bill yet. On 5/29/07 I talked to Paul again, who again indicated that Nicor had still not issued a corrected bill.

NICOR NEVER SENT ME A CORRECTED BILL. BUT RATHER, you sent the previous unpaid/disputed balance to a collections agency. Your company made no attempts to rectify this situation, and now this item is appearing on my credit report as a delinquent account.

1) You should know that the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act (15 USC ????1601 et seq) was enacted by Congress specifically to address issues such as this. Under the FCBA, I have a right to dispute any billing errors within 60 days of receiving a statement that I believe is erroneous. When a creditor (such as Nicor) receives my dispute within the 60-day timeframe allowed (15 USC ????1666(a)), then the creditor is obligated by Federal law:
[quote]15 USC ???? 1666 (a)(A):
A) to send a written acknowledgment of the dispute to the obligor within 30 days; and

15 USC ???? 1666 (a)(B):
B) not later than two complete billing cycles of the creditor(in no event later than ninety days) after the receipt of the noticeand prior to taking any action to collect the amount, or any part thereof, either????????
(i) make appropriate corrections in the account of the obligor, including the crediting of any finance charges on amounts erroneously billed, and transmit to the obligor a notification of such corrections and the creditor????????s explanation of any change in the amount indicated and, if any such change is made and the obligor so requests, copies of documentary evidence of the obligor????????s indebtedness; or
(ii) send a written explanation or clarification to the obligor, after having conducted an investigation, setting forth to the extent applicable the reasons why the creditor believes the account of the obligor was correctly shown in the statement and, upon request of the obligor, provide copies of documentary evidence of the obligor????????s indebtedness.[/quote]
Nicor Gas received my dispute, and Nicor Gas also acknowledged my dispute by sending its letter dated 3/27/07. In that sense, Nicor has complied with section 1666(a)(A) of the FCBA. However, Nicor failed to address the dispute by neither making appropriate corrections required by (1666(a)(B)(i)), nor sending written clarification after performing an investigation required by (1666(a)(B)(ii)) within 2 billing cycles.

2)Nicor continued to violate the FCBA by taking action to collect the disputed amount without addressing the dispute as required by law.As early as 4/5/07 I was contacted by RPM, LLC, a collection agency contracted by Nicor, attempting to collect the disputed amount (a copy of their initial notice is attached).

On 4/18/07 a collector from the company, ???????Dana Score,??????? called me to collect on the debt. I explained the situation to her and she indicated that she would ???????send it back to Nicor for verification.??????? She never did; or if she did, Nicor failed to take action. On 5/22/07 and 5/25/07 I received two more collection calls from RPM, whose collectors did not identify themselves. As I was explaining the situation, they terminated the call abruptly without resolution.

On 8/2/07 ???????Shay C??????? from RPM called me on the phone. Again, I repeated the problem with this account and explained that Nicor had never corrected the bill. I asked him to contact Nicor, which he stated he would not do. Before terminating the call, he made remarks to the extent that ???????I have your social security number,??????? and ???????check your credit report in a few days.??????? Such threats are clearly meant to intimidate me and will not be tolerated!

3) Section 1666a of the FCBA regulates the way a data furnisher can report disputed account information to the credit bureaus:
[quote][justify](a) Reports by creditor on obligor????????s failure to pay amount regarded as billing error
After receiving a notice from an obligor as provided in section 1666 (a) of this title, a creditor or his agent may not directly or indirectly threaten to report to any person adversely on the obligor????????s credit rating or credit standing because of the obligor????????s failure to pay the amount indicated by the obligor under section 1666 (a)(2) of this title, and such amount may not be reported as delinquent to any third party until the creditor has met the requirements of section 1666 of this title and has allowed the obligor the same number of days (not less than ten) thereafter to make payment as is provided under the credit agreement with the obligor for the payment of undisputed amounts.[/justify:c716da64f7][/quote]
Nicor continues to report this account each month to the credit bureaus as a ???????collection item???????, in full violation of the FCBA. Such reporting not only affects my credit score and ability to obtain credit; but Nicor????????s blatant disregard and willful non-compliance of the laws also serves to cause undue anguish and emotional distress upon my person.

4)You may not be very familiar with the fdcpa (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), since those laws apply more-so to collection agencies. Take notice of ???? 807: ???????False or misleading representations??????? [15 USC 1692e], which states that ???????A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt??????????????, including ???????(5) The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.???????

A collector from RPM threatening to put this disputed balance on my credit report, is a direct violation of ????1692e of the FDCPA, since that action cannot legally be taken under ????1666a of the FCBA. Since RPM is acting as an agent for Nicor, Nicor may be held liable for RPM????????s violations under Federal law. Please know that ????1692k of the FDCPA prescribes damages of $1000 for each violation under that cover.

5) As a data furnisher who reports information about its accounts to the credit bureaus, you should also be very familiar with the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). You will know that the FACTA amended the FCRA in 2003 by allowing a consumer to make a tradeline dispute directly with a data furnisher ([15 USC ????1681i].

I now appeal to Nicor and demand that this account and its???????? subsequent ???????collection??????? status be removed from my credit report. On those grounds, you also know that you generally have the same time frame to respond as the bureaus do, which is 30 days. It will be very easy for you to log onto E-OSCAR and initiate an AUD. Nicor????????s continued reporting of this account, after 30 days of your receipt of this letter, shall constitute a separate violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Historically, you will see that you have never had a problem or late payment on my account. I do not object to paying a correct bill. But it is Nicor????????s negligence that has caused this problem, not mine. I should not have to be subjected to such collection tactics, when this problem is clearly not my fault. Until Nicor can produce a corrected balance, I demand that you remove this account from the collection agency, and I demand that you remove this account from my credit report. I will not keep writing letters and making phone calls; my next correspondence will be in the form of a Summons and Complaint filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, in which I intend to seek redress from your willful and unlawful violations of the Fair Credit Billing Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Lastly, I request that all future communication with me be reduced to writing. You phone support and customer service are unknowledgeable, unhelpful, and they make incomplete notes about my account within your computer system. When I call, they should be able to read the account notes to see what has been going on; instead, they are clueless to the situation and I constantly have to repeat myself. For that reason, I will not deal with this matter through the phone any longer. I look forward to your response as we may expedite a timely resolution to this matter.



via Certified Mail, Rtn Rcpt Requested

Cc: File[/justify][/quote]

Sub: #1 posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 04:54

DebtCruncher DebtCruncher
(Posts: 2296 | Credits: 269.79)

DC,I read the fcba to cover open end and installment accounts only. I would add to cc this dispute to the state public utility commissioner.They should be able to help you.

Sub: #2 posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 08:15

cajunbulldog cajunbulldog
(Posts: 4859 | Credits: 424.99)

I was afraid of that -- I kind of read FCBA the same way. Nonetheless, it's an empty threat but maybe the letter will shake them up a little bit.

Sub: #3 posted on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 08:56

DebtCruncher DebtCruncher
(Posts: 2296 | Credits: 269.79)

More information
  • Files must be less than 1.25 GB.
  • Allowed file types: txt pdf jpg jpeg png.
Post as a guest
This question (Case Insensitive) is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Post as a member

Share post

Page loaded in 0.271 seconds.