Author Topic: Disputing after initial 30 day period?  (Read 1892 times)

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jcjc2424

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Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« on: May 04, 2017 07:12:41 PM »
Hi DB,

So I have a utilities bill from ConEd that is in collections with two different collection agencies (not even sure how that's possible, but it is the case). I had some roommates in my last apartment and I was responsible for paying the utilities bill. When I moved out one of the roommates agreed to take over the responsibility of paying the ConEd bill on behalf of everyone living in the apartment, but the problem is he never called ConEd to switch the account into his name (which is how I took on the bill from the last person paying it). I did not know this was the case until the account was placed in collections. I have various pieces of evidence (emails, receipts, bills, etc) that clearly indicate I was no longer a tenant in the apartment and that someone else was responsible for the bill. I am compiling all of this along with a letter requesting the removal of the credit marks and the disclaiming my liability for the bill. I was initially contacted by ConEd about the outstanding bill, so I then informed my former roommates that they need to pay ConEd for the outstanding bill, which they never did and before I knew it, the bill was transferred to the two collection agencies.

a) Can I still dispute this after 30 days since I was not informed by either of the collection agencies directly and only just saw this on my credit report?
b) Is there anything else beyond my planned letter that you would advise I do?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017 07:50:51 PM by jcjc2424 »

Clydesmom66

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2017 08:54:09 PM »
a) Can I still dispute this after 30 days since I was not informed by either of the collection agencies directly and only just saw this on my credit report?
b) Is there anything else beyond my planned letter that you would advise I do?

A)  you can but they are free to ignore it.  Under the FDCPA they are only required to respond to your DV if sent within 30 days of the initial contact with you unless your state has state laws on the books that provide that you can dispute any time.  Such as Texas.

b)  Yes, never ever leave a utility account in your name again when vacating an apartment.

I am compiling all of this along with a letter requesting the removal of the credit marks and the disclaiming my liability for the bill. I was initially contacted by ConEd about the outstanding bill, so I then informed my former roommates that they need to pay ConEd for the outstanding bill, which they never did and before I knew it, the bill was transferred to the two collection agencies.

Unfortunately leaving that account in your name was a HUGE mistake.  Despite the fact you moved out and the others were supposed to pay you accepted legal responsibility for the bill by leaving it in your name.  You are liable for it for that reason alone.
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

jcjc2424

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2017 09:18:24 PM »
A)  you can but they are free to ignore it.  Under the FDCPA they are only required to respond to your DV if sent within 30 days of the initial contact with you unless your state has state laws on the books that provide that you can dispute any time.  Such as Texas.

b)  Yes, never ever leave a utility account in your name again when vacating an apartment.

Unfortunately leaving that account in your name was a HUGE mistake.  Despite the fact you moved out and the others were supposed to pay you accepted legal responsibility for the bill by leaving it in your name.  You are liable for it for that reason alone.

Thanks for response ClydesMom. Yup, I learned that the hard way, unfortunately. So do you think there is even a point in disputing it? I have read that the 30 day notice period is 30 days from my being contacted, but I was only ever contacted by ConEd (the original creditor), and not by the 3rd party collectors. Does that make a difference?

With regards to the actual bill and situation, I hope that a judge would reasonably agree that this is not my responsibility if I can prove I did no live in the apartment during the billing period along with written proof (ie. an email agreement) that another tenant would take over the utilities payment.

Clydesmom66

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2017 09:52:12 PM »
Thanks for response ClydesMom. Yup, I learned that the hard way, unfortunately. So do you think there is even a point in disputing it? I have read that the 30 day notice period is 30 days from my being contacted, but I was only ever contacted by ConEd (the original creditor), and not by the 3rd party collectors. Does that make a difference?

Disputing based on finding the trade line on your credit report is NOT initial contact with you triggering FDCPA protections.  They might respond to it but you don't have the same leverage as you would if it were still in the 30 day window of initial contact.

With regards to the actual bill and situation, I hope that a judge would reasonably agree that this is not my responsibility if I can prove I did no live in the apartment during the billing period along with written proof (ie. an email agreement) that another tenant would take over the utilities payment.

Unfortunately "reasonable" isn't the problem.  You never took your name off the account and therefore you are responsible for the bill.  The reasonable thing to do was close the account when you moved out ending all responsibility.  What you did was in essence made yourself their co-signor.
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

jcjc2424

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2017 10:03:29 PM »
Disputing based on finding the trade line on your credit report is NOT initial contact with you triggering FDCPA protections.  They might respond to it but you don't have the same leverage as you would if it were still in the 30 day window of initial contact.

Unfortunately "reasonable" isn't the problem.  You never took your name off the account and therefore you are responsible for the bill.  The reasonable thing to do was close the account when you moved out ending all responsibility.  What you did was in essence made yourself their co-signor.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do at this point? I totally get that I was an idiot and all too trusting in my former roommates, but now that I am here, I need to try resolve this and hope that there is something that can be done..

CleaningUp

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017 02:15:28 AM »
The only thing that you can do is to pay the bill and try to collect from the former roommates.  You are the one responsible for the bill legally, and not judge acting reasonably would see otherwise.

You might just have to sue them for it, but you are going to have to prove your case with admissible evidence.  See Rules of Evidence in your jurisdiction.

Clydesmom66

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2017 02:38:53 AM »
If you were in my shoes, what would you do at this point? I totally get that I was an idiot and all too trusting in my former roommates, but now that I am here, I need to try resolve this and hope that there is something that can be done..

Utility accounts are usually ripe for a pay for delete.  Negotiate the terms FIRST and in writing THEN pay.  Seeking a little sympathy from ConEd by throwing the roommates under the bus when you ask might soften them up to agree.
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

Bruno the JDB Killer

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2017 12:54:57 PM »
How much is the tab? If you let this go to court you'll get stuck with court costs and legal fees on top of it. Pay it, then deal with the crooks you let use your crib. Most likely they did this knowing you'd be stuck with the bill. Nice friends you have there.
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

jcjc2424

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017 03:31:19 PM »
Utility accounts are usually ripe for a pay for delete.  Negotiate the terms FIRST and in writing THEN pay.  Seeking a little sympathy from ConEd by throwing the roommates under the bus when you ask might soften them up to agree.

Any idea where I can find best practice for navigating PFD? For example, should I contact ConEd (the original creditor) or the collections agency that reported the mark? Thanks for much for the actionable advice. I'd rater pay for delete (maybe negotiate down) and then I can deal with the former roommates..

CleaningUp

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017 03:58:58 PM »
You will need to remember that negotiating a PFD up front can get the credtor afoul of the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

The best way to do it is to negotiate some sort of non-disclosure agreement that would keep the creditor from responding to a dispute of the trade line.  And while it may work without any stick behind the non-disclosure clause, it is best to have a hefty liquidated damages clause to assure the compliance.

Like the guy with his ex taking his kid to the ER, you have little legal ground to stand on because the contract was between you and the utility, not the whole house full of bozos who were going to stiff somebody.

You would have to turn to any contract or agreement between you and your flat-mates for relief.  But I suspect that they might well claim that they were paying you the money to take care of the rent and utilities.  And, if you don't have a written agreement that spells out how the common expenses might be shared, you are likely to be stuck with it and having to scramble to collect from them.

I hoe the bill isn't too large.  But this should be a lesson that you learn:  Get the agreement in writing BEFORE things go south, not after.

jcjc2424

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2017 04:14:39 PM »
You will need to remember that negotiating a PFD up front can get the credtor afoul of the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

The best way to do it is to negotiate some sort of non-disclosure agreement that would keep the creditor from responding to a dispute of the trade line.  And while it may work without any stick behind the non-disclosure clause, it is best to have a hefty liquidated damages clause to assure the compliance.

Just to make sure I am understanding this: the point of the NDA is to the benefit of the creditor so that they cannot (based on the NDA in place) report on the mark and protect themselves from self-incrimination based on the CROA. Is that correct?

Also, as far as practical next steps, I have a few questions hopefully you can share some thoughts on:
a) I am assuming the first step is to call ConEd and see if they still have the credit on contingency or if it is outright sold to determine who I should be negotiating with. As far as getting the mark removed would it be more ideal to negotiate with the original creditor (perhaps there is a way to transfer the credit back to the original creditor) or the new creditor?
b) As far as the NDA, do I tell the creditor on the phone that I'd like to PFD and would be willing to sign an NDA if we can reach an agreement? I think I understand the way this should work, just not sure what the practical process actually looks like. Presumably, in the situation just described, the call is recorded and they are "incriminating" by even discussing it?

Like the guy with his ex taking his kid to the ER, you have little legal ground to stand on because the contract was between you and the utility, not the whole house full of bozos who were going to stiff somebody.

You would have to turn to any contract or agreement between you and your flat-mates for relief.  But I suspect that they might well claim that they were paying you the money to take care of the rent and utilities.  And, if you don't have a written agreement that spells out how the common expenses might be shared, you are likely to be stuck with it and having to scramble to collect from them.

I hoe the bill isn't too large.  But this should be a lesson that you learn:  Get the agreement in writing BEFORE things go south, not after.

Yup, I learned this the hard way :-( The bill is for $900+ so could have been a lot worse, but still hurts.

The Litigator

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2017 06:18:36 PM »
Just a side note.

If you are planing on residing in the 5 boros or Westchester and opening anothering account in the future, you might want to take care of that bill in some way.

ConEd can force you repay your past obligation before they will open a new account under Home Energy Fair Practices Act.

(2) A distribution utility shall not be obligated to provide
service to an applicant who owes the distribution utility
money for residential service provided to a prior account
in his or her name unless:

(i) the applicant makes full payment for residential
service provided to any such prior account in his or
her name;


http://www.dps.ny.gov/HEFPA_Brochure_12-08.pdf

Bruno the JDB Killer

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2017 06:46:06 PM »
Write up your own NDA and send it to them. You need to show some good faith, like a copy of a money order made out to them. If they sign, you're in. They are under no obligation to stop reporting or agree to  your terms.
I am not an attorney. Any information I post is strictly my opinion and should be treated as such.

jcjc2424

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Re: Disputing after initial 30 day period?
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2017 01:14:32 AM »
So update on this:

The debt I had was being reported by two different debt collection agencies. I was able to get the current debt holder to settle the amount owed at 75% and delete the record (woohoo!). I then contacted the second debt collector and informed them I had a record the proved they weren't the debt holder but they refused to do anything until they could verify with the original debt holder (which apparently needed to be via "written correspondence"). Not having the patience for this, I disputed the debt via CreditKarma and won the dispute as they couldn't verify they were the debt holder (woohoo x2!). So now I have a few more questions for you pros:

1) The first record was deleted about three weeks ago and the second was deleted this week. My credit score has gone up by about 15 points in total (last one being an increment of 5 this week). Should I expect the score to increase more or is this as good as it gets with regards to the two deletions? These were the only derogatory remarks I had.

2) I recently consolidated my student loans from various lenders and did not realize that my credit reports would now treat all of that as one NEW debt. So now I have lost some really strong account history.. Is there anything to do about this?

3) On a related note, Chase had closed two of my credit cards (based on the unsubstantiated derogatory marks on my credit report), which of course is also impacting my credit score now as I have zero credit utilization. Do banks re-open credit cards if I can show the marks have been removed from my report because they were unsubstantiated?

Thanks, all!

 

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