Subject: Collection on Fraudulently Set Up Phone Service
Question: I live in Indiana. In 2005, I pulled my own credit reports a couple of years ago, I discovered a collection account for Ameritech Phone Service. I contacted Ameritech directly for information on the debt because I've never had phone service with Ameritech or any company who has been bought out by Ameritech. They gave me the disconnected phone number, service address and dates of service. The address was in Illinois, near the Navy Base. I have never lived in Illinois, ever, even as a child.
After a small amount of investigation on my part, I figured out that a specific person I met in 1999 and had been in my home on two separate occassions likely stole my SSN and used it to get phone service. I don't remember this person's name and have no idea where they are now. I only saw them the two times and didn't hear from or see them ever again. I also don't remember exact dates when they were in my home.
I disputed with the credit bureaus and it was removed.
I contacted the collection agency and disputed on the basis that the account was fraudulent. They said they would send me a form, but I did not receive anything. They stopped calling, and it wasn't hurting my credit, so I did not pursue it further.
A few months later, the collection agency contacted me trying to collect the debt. Once again, I disputed it as fradulent, this time in writing. I received a call telling me I had to fill out a form and provide a police report showing where I had reported the identity theft. I contacted the local police who said they could not take a report because I had no information on the crime other than an account for phone service in 1999 that I "claim" is not mine.
I have been through this same dispute cycle a couple more times with different agencies.
Here's the problem. The collection agencies seem to be getting around the statute of limitations by selling the paper. They continue to say I can't dispute as fraudulent because I don't have a police report. I can't get a police report because I don't have any solid information on how, when or where the identity theft occurred.
Recently, the cycle is starting again as I got a collection notice in the mail.
What can I do to stop this once and for all?
Answer: I really wish there were another remedy other than filing federal lawsuits at every drop of the hat but that is the only way to get relief from some situations that can usually be counted on to get results. In your case the collection agencies have been able to get away with continual re-aging of the debt because you haven't known how to put a stop to it or haven't pursued the matter diligently enough. The fact is that they cannot get around the statute of limitations by any means whatever unless you let them get away with it. First of all, if you dispute the debt in writing within the first 30 days after receipt of their initial contact with you and they sell or transfer the debt to some new debt collector without providing the proper validation your only course of action is to sue them in federal court for doing that. Then, if they illegally re-age the debt you also have a cause action against the new debt collector for doing that. If he also fails to validate properly then that is a second cause of action. So, even though I am certain you really don't want to have to file federal lawsuits that is probably your only recourse. The next problem is that you will be unlikely to find an attorney qualified to take your case and pursue it to a successful conclusion or won't do it even if they are qualified because they can't see enough money in it for them. So, the only way to get the job done is to learn how to do it yourself and it really isn't all that hard to do. If you want to learn how to do it for yourself then you can at least start the process by visiting my web site at Creditwrench web site
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