An old Washington Mutual account went to collection with a balance around $7k. When my situation improved I started paying the collection agency, and got about half of the debt paid off so the balance was a little over $3k. Unfortunately I had to stop payments again, and the collection agency sold the account. I haven’t paid on it since 2006 or so.
Within the past several months I’ve had at least three agencies contact me about this same account. Two of them are claiming I owe the full $7k and one is claiming the $3k balance. The most recent collection agency hired a local attorney to collect the $7k amount. I have 30 days (less now) to respond to the attorneys. I assume I should ask them to prove that I owe $7k?
How can I find out who I should be working with? I could pay the $3k now without TOO much difficulty. I just want all of this to go away. Please help.
You are in a better position than you think. Send a written dispute letter to each collection agency disputing the amount, their right to collect, and the status of the debt (it may be too old to collect now). When you get a response or if you get sued, contact a local consumer law attorney for a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuit. Clearly someone is misstating the amount owed and their right to collect.
You should not care who owns the debt. The more companies that claim they own it, the better a case you have.
Mitchell Goldstein is an attorney licensed in Virginia. His practice focus is consumer bankruptcy, mortgage and debt defense and technology issues. He is a proud member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) and National Association of Consumer Attorneys (NACA). His goal is to educate people with solid advice and give guidance to consumers to help them made decisions that impact their financial well-being.
Legal Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as legal advice. It also does not create an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship is formed with attorney without a written agreement.