Suing AllianceOne

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by wolverene, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. wolverene

    wolverene Member

    I know I haven't been here very long, so I'm not a "regular" yet and not many know my situation, but I figured I'd share one of my potential successes with you all.

    I received a $300+ ticket in 2006 for running a stop sign (I didn't really run it, but I did a "rolling stop," FYI) and paid the ticket at Amscot a few days later. Of course, Amscot (or the county, I'm not sure which) screwed up their records and didn't mark the ticket as "paid." This April, four years later, I pull my credit report and see a collections account from AllianceOne on there with the original creditor listed as "(insert my county here) County Clerk." Naturally, I didn't have the receipt anymore because this was 4 years ago and I hadn't heard anything about it since then. So, I proceeded to dispute the listing with the credit bureaus on May 2nd and received a response from Experian and Equifax about 3 weeks later. They removed the listing (Yay!). The debt was still on my TU credit report (I received no response from them whatsoever), so I decided to request validation of the debt from AllianceOne. I mailed them a letter on June 8th via certified mail requesting all of the information regarding the account. On June 21st, I received a BILL from them stating that I owe them over $2,000(!!) for the debt, but nothing at all in the way of verification or proof of the debt in the first place. Naturally, I was flabbergasted.

    1.) According to sec 809 of the FDCPA, once you request verification of the debt, the CA cannot pursue any further collection activity until they furnish the information. AllianceOne tried to send me a bill instead of validating the debt. That's one violation = $1000 according to the FDCPA.

    2.) Also in sec 809, when you request verification of the debt the CA has 30 days to provide this information. The mail already came today, so presumably AllianceOne missed their 30 day mark (and besides, I'm pretty sure that if you violate the first clause I mentioned, this one is automatically violated as well). That's another violation = $1000 according to the FDCPA.

    3.) According to Section 807 of the FDCPA:

    A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or mis-
    leading representation or means in connection with the col-
    lection of any debt. Without limiting the general application
    of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this
    (2) The false representation ofâ??
    (A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or
    (B) any services rendered or compensation which may
    be lawfully received by any debt collector for the
    collection of a debt.

    By alleging that I owe them over $2000 for this, they've also violated that section, which -- you guessed it = $1000 according to the FDCPA.

    In addition, TU missed their 30 day (and even 45 day) mark with regard to this account, so they messed up too. I just got off the phone with my mother's neighbor, who is an FDCPA attorney and he said I have a solid case against AllianceOne! He's going to get back to me on the TU part of it to see if their violation of the FCRA would be worth pursuing, but he said there's a good chance I can at least get them to remove it!

    Anyway, I thought this would be good to share and may provide some insight to some who are just starting out on this long journey. No matter what happens don't give up, and remember, there's always a way to fix these things. A lot of these companies are shady and it always feels good to hear about someone who successfully stuck it to them.
  2. PsychRN

    PsychRN Member

    Thats great news that you have! Definitely keep us posted with what happens!
  3. ccbob

    ccbob Well-Known Member

    I don't want to burst your bubble, but it's better me than a judge.

    1) if the "bill" contained validation information (i.e. the name and address of the O.C. which it sounds like was provided in the original letter) then they'd satisfied their validation requirement and reminded you of what they think you owe. The information required by the FDCPA (and FTC) is much lower than what some internet experts would have you believe.

    2) there is no 30/45-day requirement for a CA to provide the consumer with validation. The CRA must respond to a dispute within a 30-ish day limit (the actual time depends on the state). But, the CA does not have to respond to that, either. (If they don't, the CRA must delete the entry). But whatever happens, it has to happen within that time limit.

    Now, you might be able to get them on misrepresentation of the debt if you could prove that you paid it, but if you don't have the receipt, that could be problematic.

    Your best bet to clear this up is to call the place where you got the ticket and see if they can figure out what happened there. But, I wouldn't run down to the courthouse just yet. (A trip to the nearest law library or westlaw/lexis terminal might help, however).

    Good luck clearing this up.
  4. Hedwig

    Hedwig Well-Known Member

    I agree with ccbob. Not only would it be validation if they told you the amount and original creditor, if the letter was mailed within a short time of your validation request they would claim that it was a bona fide error and that the letter was sent before they actually received the request.

    IF and only if you requested validation within 30 days of the first contact do they even have to stop collecting. And I don't believe they have to delete if the don't validate. If you dispute with the CRA and they don't verify to the CRA it must be deleted.

    And they may not be misrepresenting the amount, either. What does the state allow? Penalties and interest? At what rate? Have they filed a legal action and added attorney's fees? Is that allowed by the state? In four years a $300 ticket could become $2000. Some states allow the amount of a fine to be doubled if not paid within a certain period of time. Add on interest and any other fees allowed and the amount will skyrocket.
  5. wolverene

    wolverene Member

    I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with your first point, Bob. Below is a letter from the FTC to a collection agency specifically stating that sending a bill does not count as validation. I added asterisks to the pertinent part of the letter.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 20580

    Division of Credit Practices
    Bureau of Consumer Protection

    March 10, 1993

    Jeffrey S. Wollman
    Vice President and Controller
    Retrieval Masters Creditors Bureau, Inc.
    1261 Broadway
    New York, New York 10001

    Dear Mr. Wollman:

    This is in response to your letter of February 9, 1993 to David Medine regarding the type of verification required by Section 809(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You ask whether a collection agency for a medical provider will fulfill the requirements of that Section if it produces "an itemized statement of services rendered to a patient on its own computer from information provided by the medical institution . . .â? in response to a request for verification of the debt. You also ask who is responsible for mailing the verification to the consumer.

    The statute requires that the debt collector obtain verification of the debt and mail it to the consumer (emphasis mine). Because one of the principal purposes of this Section is to help consumers who have been misidentified by the debt collector or who dispute the amount of the debt, it is important that the verification of the identity of the consumer and the amount of the debt be obtained directly from the creditor. *****Mere itemization of what the debt collector already has does not accomplish this purpose.***** As stated above, the statute requires the debt collector, not the creditor, to mail the verification to the consumer.

    Your interest in writing is appreciated. Please be aware that since this is only the opinion of Commission staff, the Commission itself is not bound by it.


    John F. LeFevre
    Division of Credit Practices
  6. billbauer

    billbauer Well-Known Member

    You just might be counting a few of your chickens before they are hatched. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for what you are doing but I do think you got too many $$ signs in your eyes.
    Then don't be too sure they don't also have a warrant out for your arrest.
    You don't have the receipt or a copy thereof so what will you do if a cop pulls you over one find day (or night) and says he got a warrant for your arrest for an unpaid ticket?
    Now that's a new one on me. Or one of us.
    Excuse me but I think there is a little misunderstanding here.
    Well, surprise, surprise, surprise. This debt is for a traffic ticket. Traffic tickets are not consumer debt. Therefore FDCPA can't be used against them. That's why I told you that you were counting your chickens before they are hatched. You don't even have complaint #1 against them that would stand a crying chance in any court. Federal or otherwise. Sorry about that but that's just the way it is. So now that I busted that little bubble for you let's move on to something that may be more realistic.
    So much for consumer protection attorneys. Telling you that you have a solid case against Alliance One and you got nothing at all.
  7. wolverene

    wolverene Member

    That's quite possible, I won't deny that.

    I thought of that already. I checked with the County Clerk's Office and they said there isn't one; the case and account are both closed.

    Now, it's possible that I'm misunderstanding the law here, but 809(b) says:

    If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within
    the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the
    debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the con-
    sumer requests the name and address of the original credi-
    tor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt,
    or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector
    obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment,
    or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy
    of such verification or judgment, or name and address of
    the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt

    What am I misunderstanding?

    I beg to differ, unless I'm misreading the law, section 803(3) applies here:

    (3) The term â??consumerâ? means any natural person obli-
    gated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.

    The law does not specify what the original debt was for, because that is irrelevant. it states that *any* debt is covered by this law. Furthermore, 803(4) says:

    (4) The term â??creditorâ? means any person who offers or
    extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is
    owed, but such term does not include any person to the
    extent that he receives an assignment or transfer of a
    debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating col-
    lection of such debt for another.

    This section says that the creditor is anyone "to whom a debt is owed." Again, it does not specify what type of debt.

    Why the condescension? I wasn't rude to you, so why be rude to me? Constructive criticism or offering guidance is one thing, but this type of discourse doesn't help anyone and sends the wrong message to visitors of this site. It doesn't exactly give off the "we're here to help you, welcome!" vibe.

    I can't really rebut this one, it was a short conversation.

    Many people do. You're telling me you've never been in this situation with a debt before? If giving others encouragement in a time of stress and hopelessness warrants backlash, then I guess I'll just go around telling everyone that they're worthless, their situation is hopeless, and to just give up. As if the world isn't messed up enough.
  8. billbauer

    billbauer Well-Known Member

    I think that what you may be missing here is what is called the definitions section of the law. Every law, Federal, State, County and City must have a definitions section so people know what the law says and who it applies to as well as in many instances when it applies. A common practice among the great unwashed masses (the average person) is to read the law and because they haven't read the definitions section don't realize that the law they are looking at don't even apply to them or it only applies to some limited set of circumstances which don't fit them at the current time. Therefore they come up with wrongheaded answers and often go around spouting them off as gospel to anyone foolish enough to listen to them.

    I'm not referring to you here. I'm thinking of those who want to use UCC law to cover consumer debt or traffic tickets or even try to apply it to criminal law. For instance they will say that when you get a traffic ticket you should sign your name and under your signature put a UCC-1 disclaimer. That way they can't do anything to you.

    Now comes the funny part. The cop stopped you because the governmental entity he works for needs money so therefore the ticket is really only about the money and therefore UCC applies. Traffic tickets are a money raiser for governments, dontcha know. Therefore the cop is operating under UCC and not criminal law.

    Problem with all of that is that UCC as they refer to it don't even exist as law! They are reading the federal version which has never been enacted into law and never will be. UCC does not involve consumer law unless a security instrument is involved. As security instrument such as a car title or mortgages and notes dealing with re Many pal estate. Then both UCC and consumer law may well apply at the same time.
    Over the years I've probably been involved with just about every type of consumer related debt out there including UCC. Credit cards, auto repossession, mortgage foreclosure, you name it. FDCPA, FCRA, TILA, HOEPA, FACTA, RESPA, you name it and I've probably had something to do with it at one time or another and usually hundreds of times.
    If you had ever spent the time going through all the links and reference material to be found by clicking on my single link below you might understand how far off base that set of statements is. I have a huge number of web sites out there giving people free information and telling them to stand up and fight and teaching them how to do it. Just one of my web sites has over 7,000 pages of information on it. Almost 20 gigs worth of stuff now and I keep a track of all the things I have helped people with over the last 10 or 15 years or so. I keep that info private, of course and only on my computer systems. The amount of information contained in that subdirectory on my hard drives also takes up just about 20 gigs. On top of that are my more than 40 blogs and my Google Docs pages and my Google sites pages. I've also got Wikis out there but don't use them much anymore. Every page is devoted to teaching people how to stand up and fight debt collectors and lawyers. And you are asking me whether I have ever been in that situation before?

    I'm helping so many people with just such situations and lots more that every time someone calls me I have to review their cases so I know what their situation is and where they are in it. That's because when I last talked to them may have been several days or even weeks, months and years ago and I've probably talked to many other people in the meantime. And no, I'm not a lawyer and don't pretend to be but I whip the pants off just about all of them.

    Now then, let me tell you once again and if you choose to ignore it because you are somehow offended by what I have said then so be it. I'm telling you once again that traffic tickets are not consumer related debt and are not covered under FDCPA therefore you don't have an FDCPA case against Allianceone. If you don't want to believe me then go spend about $400 down at the federal courthouse to find out for yourself.

    Now then that still don't resolve your problem which is that if you can't prove you don't owe the debt then they just might sue you for it and since you really don't owe it they will pocket the whole amount they claim you owe. So I think the best thing you can do is take your situation down to whatever courthouse is relevant and see who can help you prove you don't owe them anything then send the proof you get that way to AllianceOne. If you got a traffic ticket and paid it there should be a record of it at the County Clerk's office. Go there and tell them you want to see your public record and see if you can find it there. You very well might be able to.
  9. wolverene

    wolverene Member

    Ok, so I went to the courthouse and it turns out that the whole thing stemmed from some stupid mix-up because some guy who lives in the same county as I do has the same first and last name (different middle name, though). The clerk was actually able to find a notification of payment (based on my SS#) from way back when that shows I paid the ticket. She also found a record for the individual I mentioned before who still owes money for some ticket from 2008 and explained the mix-up. She gave me a copy of the notification and provided me with her name and direct phone number so TU can contact them if needed. As for the lawsuit thing, Bill, perhaps I was incorrect. Admittedly, I am not an expert, nor do I profess to be. You obviously know more about this than I do based on your credentials. I do have to ask, though: where did you find the information that says that the FDCPA doesn't apply to this debt? I tried looking through my copy of the FDCPA and couldn't find it. Is there something in the FACTA or something?
  10. ccbob

    ccbob Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you were able to clear things up with the court, at least. Good luck with TU. I'm guessing you'll have to get Alliance One to update TU so you might talk to them (It's a FCRA violation not to correct it, but try being nice, first).

    RE the applicability of the FDCPA to your situation, I'm on the fence but leaning towards Bill's side.
    If I were on the defending side, I'd move for dismissal on the grounds that this isn't a debt as described above. The ball would be in your court to prove applicability, which, to me, would be a tough one. But that's just me (and what do I know?).

    Either way, good luck with the clean up.

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