Qt3 lawyers and other knowledgable fellows: help me out!

I’d imagine we’ll see more of these situations since states are all bankrupt from the housing bust. Pennsylvania has probably hired a few people specifically to go through all their old records and either try to collect or pass it on to another agency.

I got hit with unexpected document stamps tax here after adding my wife to the deed of my house. By law you owe a certain percentage of half the mortgage at that point. My lawyer said they haven’t bothered collecting it for years since it’s such a simple operation but without any cash the states have to do something!

They don’t need to go through records; from this thread apparently all they need is your name and address and Poof! you owe them x number of dollars. It’s ridiculous.

Actually, this was forwarded to my new address by the post office, so you don’t even need that much.

OK, second example. I had a coworker from China who’d come over when he was 30. His English was very good, but he had no confidence in it, and one effect of this was that he was completely unable to deal with American bureaucracy. I often wrote him phone scripts to use when he had to call the gas company, our HMO, etc.

Some years before, he had been rear-ended while driving a rental car, and the car was totaled. He had rented the car with a credit card that gave free total insurance coverage for rentals, and the credit card company paid the car rental company in full without resistance. He kept receipts. No problem, right? Wrong.

A year later he gets a bill in the mail from a collection agency in California (he was in Chicago) demanding $14,000 for the destruction of a Dodge Neon. Puzzled, he ignores it. He gets another, then he starts getting calls. He sends copies of the receipts, and it goes away for a year. Then it resumes, same agency. He sends copies again. It goes away again.

So one day he comes into my office in a total panic and tells me this story while clutching a crappy dot matrix printout of the same bill from the same agency. I think about it and figure that they’re probably targeting him deliberately because of his name and green card — I’d heard reports of how such agencies target the very elderly to prey on their confusion.

So I tell him to leave it to me, and I spend an hour perfecting a letter on company letterhead full of arch sarcasm and well-deployed semicolons, documenting “my” frustration and wondering aloud if this clear harassment might be a matter not only for “my attorneys” but for the Department of Immigration. He never heard from them again (this is maybe 10 years ago now).

I doubt the rental company had anything to do with his woes — I think the collection agency just figured it would try every so often in perpetuity, and that when I made him appear to be a non-helpless immigrant they closed the file.

So extar, I wouldn’t even assume that this law firm actually represents the state (though who knows?). Don’t pay them a dime.

extar you are just weak and helpless looking. Perhaps include pictures in your reply of your impressive firearms collection.

My wife had her identity stolen, which resulted in some fraudulent credit cards and charges, which various collection agencies tried to collect on. After talking to a lawyer, we told them to piss off unless they could provide proof of debt, which was apparently enough to stop them.

Well, except that then they’d apparently sell the debt to another agency, who’d call trying to collect until told the same thing, and so on. It marred my wife’s credit rating for years, and only just recently stopped because the debt was too old to collect.

Fortunately my credit alone was good enough to get a mortgage, but in hindsight I’d have pursued the original collection agency more thoroughly.

I get a few calls every couple of years trying to collect on an old Verizon debt that I’ve told them time and time again isn’t mine. I’m pretty sure it’s just going from one collections company to another at this point. They usually back off after two or three calls when I make it clear that I know what my rights are and until they can prove the debt is mine I’m not giving them a dime. To this day I have never gotten a copy of any sort of bill even though I’ve asked for it every single time. I also laugh when they threaten to put it on my credit report since the date they’re claiming for it is well and gone past the statute of limitations my state has so they can’t actually do that. And threatening to do that can get them in big trouble.

They also tend to hang up if you tell them to hold on for a second, you just want to record this conversation to make sure everyone has their facts straight.

I never get calls from actual people when they’re trying to collect. Just robocalls saying that I need to call such-and-such number.

Of course, I never do. And every once in a while I go and call my phone company and bitch at them about getting spammed by such-and-such number and am I seriously paying money for getting spammed? That somehow seems to help, but it might just be my imagination.

Was it really 2002 or 2003? You might want to check out the Statute of Limitations in Pa for a negligence case, most states it is under 5 years. If it has run, mention that to the lawyer.

Explain what you mean by negligence? It had occurred to me that it might be past a statute of limitations, because 2003 is not an exaggeration, but I don’t even know what this weirdness would fall under, and anyway I haven’t been charged with anything or sued or in any other way brought into the legal system, so I don’t know if that even applies.

Re. negligence: The debt isn’t really enforceable in court unless they can still sue you successfully for the underlying act that allegedly gave rise to the debt. I would assume, as Lloyd does, that the claim would be negligence on your part.

I still maintain that there’s no legally enforceable debt because 1) they don’t have a judgment against you (probably), and 2) you didn’t agree contractually to pay it (as you would in a credit-card transaction). And that’s what makes this whole enterprise so dishonest - they’re hassling you for money they have no legal right to (yet), and they’re hoping you’ll cough it up rather than calling their bluff.

If you still lived in Pa. and could show up in court with a minimum of hassle, the best approach would be to tell them to sue you or shove it. But you don’t. If they sue you, you’d have to show up or get a default judgment against you.

I do still live in PA, and it wouldn’t be impossible to show up in court if they were to sue me for it. My concern would be that, as happened to Rywill, I tell them that and they happily just leave it as it is and report it to the credit bureaus, who in turn happily screw me as hard as they can, since that’s what they’re set up to do and all. Still, that’s probably what I’ll end up doing if I can’t somehow talk some sense into somebody, which seems unlikely at this point.

What Jerri said about the “negligence”.

Some states also have statutes protecting you from illegal collection actions.

I would see a local lawyer for a consult to go over all these things.

I finally just gave up and had my landline disconnected, because I was so sick of receiving credit agency calls for the people who had my phone number before me. They would call and ask for Shalva Tikva* or Bella Tikva*. I would explain that they didnt live here, and used to have this phone number, but that I had it now, and please don’t call again. They would agree, and then sell the debt on to another agency and it started again. I had that phone number for 3 years, and we got an average of 4 voicemails a week from those tards.

*If you’re out there, I hate you.

Landline? Hah. They spam my cellphone.