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Collection Letter...yikes!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yesterday my in-laws received a letter from a collections company that states my DH owes $400.00 plus collection fees and that there is a WARRANT for his arrest in the county apparently! My FIL called the company and they asked if he knew who DH was, FIL says no, they advise him the debt is from a bounced check in 1999. DH was in this town in 1999, passing through on his way to Lake Tahoe but doesn't think he bounced a check or was even at the place claiming the debt. He has had the same bank account this whole time and they are researching to see if they can find anything. We have excellent credit and have for years. This is out of the blue and totally freaking me out! He was 22 at the time, it was before we met, and he has a bad memory.

Is there anyway to find out from the collection company if this is actually his debt? Should we even contact them?

What about this "warrant" for his arrest? Should we contact the courthouse?

The fact they sent this to the in-laws is odd, they've only been in the house (and state) 5 years. Although we have moved in that time too. The letter was addressed to his first name (shortened) and last name.

He still has the same bank acct..

I'm really upset be this whole thing and any advice would be appreciated.
post #2 of 14
We don't have debtors' prison, so you cannot go to jail here for failure to pay a debt (with the exception of some things like child support). He's not going to go to jail over a $400 debt. The company saying that is violating the law by threatening jail and by telling your FIL about the debt.

Google Bud Hibbs if you want some template letters and links to info on regulations about collections and what companies can/cannot do. There are some companies that buy up "ghost debts," which aren't collectible - in this case because it's likely past the statute of limitations - and then try to bully people into paying them. So it's possible your husband did bounce a check, but it's past the point that any collection can happen, and since you said your husband was passing through and they're mailing info to his parents' house, I'd bet the debt isn't valid. They're just hoping someone will ante up the money, and they can make a profit.
post #3 of 14
my dh and i watched a 20/20 episode on this kind of scam. they collection agency will call everyone and anyone claiming all of these lies in order to make a quick buck...i wouldnt stress too much over this even tho it is scary to think about.
post #4 of 14
The SOL should be out for a 11 year old bad check anyway in almost every state.

But yeah I would go with scam, do NOT call that collection agency back do everything in writing. Also check creditboards.com forums, they should be able to tell you by the name of the company that it is or isn't a scam

DONT PAY ANYTHING!
post #5 of 14
Oh and the collection agency cannot issue a warrant for your arrest, I read a whole article about it awhile back. Only someone with first hand knowledge of the check can i.e. the place he wrote it to IF the check is real
post #6 of 14
A debt from 1999 to a business has probably long since been written off and can't be claimed again. A personal debt of $400 your husband would not forget no matter how bad his memory.

Debt collection agencies are evil things but even the most aggressive ones won't reveal information to anyone but someone they believe has a right to know, specifically the debtor or a spouse or other relative.

When I moved I got a lot of calls from debt collectors for a guy that apparently used to own a construction company. When I actually got them on the phone (instead of their hostile messages) and asked "what the $*%&$# is this all about" they wouldn't tell me. So I told them a few things requiring more $*%&## special characters, then turned off my ringer and my answering machine (everyone that I want to talk to, and even some I don't, have my cell #).

I'm going to concur this very well may be a scam. If so, extortion is quite illegal. Get all the info you can on the company and/or persons contacting you. Keep asking them for information until they hang up on you. Street address, if they are a publicly traded company, CEO's name, etc, etc. It feels really good when they hang up on you. And they will. Small victories :-)
post #7 of 14
The collectors have to prove the debt. If they can't do that, you don't have to pay. Ask for more specifics about it, in writing. If they can't send you anything official, it's definitely a scam.
post #8 of 14
I received a letter a couple of years ago saying that I owed money to Avon. I'd had an account through Avon a couple years before that but my account had been paid in full. I called the number and only ever got a recording saying to leave full name, address, and social security # and someone would get back to you (uh yeah right!) I called my cousin to double check my account (at the time she was the one that made Avon's collection calls for this district) and there was nothing for me. I sent a debt validation letter (found the sample online somewhere for free) and never heard a word back. I'm sure it was a scam. Yours probably is too.

Type up the debt validation letter, save a copy for you, and send one to the company. They have to prove the debt or leave you alone. The collection company can't send your husband to jail for this even if it is real. The DA's office can issue a warrant for his arrest though for bad checks if they are over a certain amount (at least in my area). The district attorney's office is who would have record of that though. Send the debt validation letter first. It should say something in there about them having 30 days to respond to you. If they don't take the letter they sent, a copy of your sent validation letter, and contact the DA's office or courthouse about the debt. If it is a real debt they will almost always set up a payment plan instead of taking your husband to jail.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
DH called the County District Attorney's office and they confirmed he does have an outstanding warrant from 2000, found using his SSN. He called a lawyer and was advised that Las Vegas does not have a statute of limitations for writing a bad check and issuing warrants is a standard procedure. They said that they can handle it for $750, will put in a motion to quash the warrant, go through the discovery process, and then if the debt is ours we will pay the LVPD Bad Check Unit directly, not the collection agency. DH will call another lawyer tomorrow to get a second opinion. I still can't believe it but I'm not as upset about it as I was earlier. Now it's DH's turn to be upset, he had been so blase about the whole thing earlier today. He called a friend that was with him on the trip to help jog his memory . We'll see if he remembers anything.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
The company saying that is violating the law by threatening jail and by telling your FIL about the debt.
So your fil tells them that he's NOT the person in question and they still give him that person's (for all they know a stranger's) life story? Nice. I love that they have access to people's personal info.

Mayfly, glad you're getting everything taken care of.
post #11 of 14
Did you get credit reports for your DH yet? If not, do that before anything else, to make sure he has no other outstanding debts or open accounts he doesn't know about. (I read the OP and immediately thought "stolen identity" although if your DH was "young and stupid" and has a bad memory, I guess it's possible it really is his debt too...)
post #12 of 14
OP, I'm glad you're getting the situation figured out. It surprises me that Nevada doesn't have a statute of limitations for writing a bad check, but laws vary so much from state to state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
We don't have debtors' prison, so you cannot go to jail here for failure to pay a debt (with the exception of some things like child support). He's not going to go to jail over a $400 debt.
This depends on where you live. There was an article about this in a local paper a few weeks ago. If there is a warrant out for your arrest (even for a debt), you can be arrested and sent to jail.
http://www.startribune.com/investiga...oDEy3LGDiO7aiU
post #13 of 14
Now that you've confirmed the warrent, I would suggest you just pay the debt. Otherwise you will pay the lawyer $750 and most likely ALSO have to pay the $400. You could look into who the check was to in the first place (and the collection agency should have that information), and see if you can clear it directly with them, but it sounds like your DH was young, foolish, and somewhat lighthanded with the checkbook.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
We have to pay the lawyer to get rid of the warrant and appear in court for us. We are states away from Nevada. We will pay the debt as well, assuming it is actually his. The lawyer said that in Las Vegas bad checks are a criminal not civil case. DH got his financial act together years ago so this was a total shock. He is actually in finance now .
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