U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > House
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 05-01-2012, 08:20 AM
 
5,291 posts, read 7,574,616 times
Reputation: 9384

Advertisements

I moved from another state more than five years ago. I sold my home with immediate possession, and handed over the keys at closing.

I notified all utilities to change service on the day of closing. I gave them all my new address so they could send final bills. I received and paid all final bills.

Several months after closing, I received another bill for several hundred dollars from one of the utilitiy companies. I called them immediately and they found their error, that although they had sent me a final bill, which they had received payment for, they "forgot" to change the service to the new owner's name. Oops! They were sorry about it, and asked if I knew the name of the new owner since they forgot to get the information. I was told to disregard the bill.

I made one followup call to make sure that the service had been taken out of my name. I was told my account was paid, and the service had been switched, and all was good. I never heard anything else from them.

Now, five years later, I received a threatening letter from a collection agency telling me that the bill had been placed with their office for collection! I called and told them the collection agent the story, but they didn't care. They said they had to collect the bill immediately or it would be reported on my credit report.

I called the utility company, they no longer have any record of their error, and also stated that I have to pay this amount.

Are they allowed to bill me five years after I stopped service and moved, for their error??
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 05-01-2012, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Haifa
20,863 posts, read 22,386,630 times
Reputation: 8612
If you don't have documentation that you took care it, then pay it. If you don't, It'll end up on your credit report. Its not a right or wrong issue at this point. Its a "Is it worth the aggravation" issue?

I still believe in document, document, document. Each time I get a funky issue I always get a hard copy of its resolution. As an IT person my perspective is data is only as good as the person who inputed it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,425 posts, read 43,291,784 times
Reputation: 10326
They can do whatever they want, legal or illegal, moral or immoral. It's up to you to fight it. And fighting it is something you have to have the guts to stand up for what's right.....because they don't care about you.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,702 posts, read 50,755,476 times
Reputation: 27127
The utility sold past-due accounts to one of the collection agencies, likely for pennies on the dollar.

There are pretty standard procedures to follow.
1. THEY have to provide proof of a valid bill, not you.
2. You need to dispute the charge in writing, certified to them and the utility company.
3. Collection has to fall within the statute of limitations for that state. IIRC, 4 years is the limit in AL.
4. The agency cannot threaten or harass. You can demand that they not contact you by phone and some other stuff.

Personally, I'd call the utility company and if they weren't forthcoming with documentation, I'd read them the riot act and file a complaint with the public service commission. You have a good chance that the real estate agency or title insurance company still has documentation showing the house was sold with no encumbrances. There is no way that I would pay to have a utility transferred to a different name, anyway. I'd tell the utility to cut the power. If they want to charge the new guy a reconnection fee, that is his problem.

These collection agencies make money by pressuring people to pay stuff they don't owe. Don't fall for it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 10:25 AM
 
5,291 posts, read 7,574,616 times
Reputation: 9384
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
The utility sold past-due accounts to one of the collection agencies, likely for pennies on the dollar.

There are pretty standard procedures to follow.
1. THEY have to provide proof of a valid bill, not you.
2. You need to dispute the charge in writing, certified to them and the utility company.
3. Collection has to fall within the statute of limitations for that state. IIRC, 4 years is the limit in AL.
4. The agency cannot threaten or harass. You can demand that they not contact you by phone and some other stuff.

Personally, I'd call the utility company and if they weren't forthcoming with documentation, I'd read them the riot act and file a complaint with the public service commission. You have a good chance that the real estate agency or title insurance company still has documentation showing the house was sold with no encumbrances. There is no way that I would pay to have a utility transferred to a different name, anyway. I'd tell the utility to cut the power. If they want to charge the new guy a reconnection fee, that is his problem.

These collection agencies make money by pressuring people to pay stuff they don't owe. Don't fall for it.
I am definitely fighting this. This was from the state of Illinois, I am trying to find out what the statute of limitations is for Illinois.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 10:30 AM
 
5,391 posts, read 6,018,662 times
Reputation: 13742
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
The utility sold past-due accounts to one of the collection agencies, likely for pennies on the dollar.

There are pretty standard procedures to follow.
1. THEY have to provide proof of a valid bill, not you.
2. You need to dispute the charge in writing, certified to them and the utility company.
3. Collection has to fall within the statute of limitations for that state. IIRC, 4 years is the limit in AL.
4. The agency cannot threaten or harass. You can demand that they not contact you by phone and some other stuff.

Personally, I'd call the utility company and if they weren't forthcoming with documentation, I'd read them the riot act and file a complaint with the public service commission. You have a good chance that the real estate agency or title insurance company still has documentation showing the house was sold with no encumbrances. There is no way that I would pay to have a utility transferred to a different name, anyway. I'd tell the utility to cut the power. If they want to charge the new guy a reconnection fee, that is his problem.

These collection agencies make money by pressuring people to pay stuff they don't owe. Don't fall for it.
This is a fabulous response. DO NOT DEAL WITH A COLLECTION AGENCY. They have no details, nor do they care. They bought your account for pennies, and if they can squeeze out dollars by threatening to make your life miserable (they can't), they make money. Computers are their friend...LOTS of impersonal dunning notices; lots of machine generated phone calls. None of it involves a human being...and likely never will. The collection agnecy can literally be run out of a tent somewhere...and all they care about is turning those pennies into dollars.

Deal with the utility. Do it by letter so you get documented responses. Somewhere there will be a person who will see the idiocy of the situation. Writing off a few hundred bucks at a utility that bills millions is a nothingburgrer. Do not pay charges which you did not incur. You have your final bill. That is all you need. Billing 'errors', especially those which have been admitted by the utility (failing to update their records to the new owner), are NOT your problem.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Mount Laurel
4,146 posts, read 8,241,925 times
Reputation: 3409
Don't bother talking to the collection agency and don't pay them anything. I are baiting you to pay a collection that may not longer be valid. First thing you want to do, check your credit report.

I had this happened with my wife regarding a gas bill. Collection agency would keep on sending letters with reduced amount each time. I waited for the statue of limitation to expire. Didn't hear from them again and nothing in the credit report.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Closer than you think !
445 posts, read 1,330,645 times
Reputation: 339
I cancelled my long distance with ATT and they continued to try to get money thru my bank - direct payment.. They finally sent me a paper bill and tried to charge me $75 dollars for "returned checks" .. two different collection agencies tried to collect - the first one I was mostly polite and told them I would never pay.. take me to court if you want...The second - I screamed at the guy and told him to go F himself and if he called again I would track him down and we would discuss it in person... He did not call again... they never put anything on my credit report My score is still at 800..

Do not pay and just hang up on them - they can not afford the time to keep calling you...
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
6,654 posts, read 11,568,628 times
Reputation: 19055
Lots of people have given you good advice so I will just add a few comments.

Here's a link with statutes of limitations in various states: Statute of Limitations on Debt . (That site has a ton of great info on disputing incorrect charges.) Looks like written contracts are 10 years in Illinois (longer than in most states -- the SOL on most things in my state is only 3 years!). Derogatory items can drop off credit reports after 7-7.5 years starting from the FIRST delinquency (i.e., collection agencies cannot "re-age" as if the debt re-started the clock when they bought it for pennies -- many did that in the past and it was and is ILLEGAL).

Since it was the original utility's mistake, they should be the ones fixing it. I would think it would be relatively easy to show that you have not lived at the old address for many years; since it was a house you owned, your town should have records.

(Honestly, I'd be a little annoyed at the buyers of your old house as well ... they somehow didn't notice that they weren't being charged for utilities for several months?!)

Good luck!!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-01-2012, 05:21 PM
 
Location: FL
14,119 posts, read 7,895,330 times
Reputation: 3320
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
The utility sold past-due accounts to one of the collection agencies, likely for pennies on the dollar.

There are pretty standard procedures to follow.
1. THEY have to provide proof of a valid bill, not you.
2. You need to dispute the charge in writing, certified to them and the utility company.
3. Collection has to fall within the statute of limitations for that state. IIRC, 4 years is the limit in AL.
4. The agency cannot threaten or harass. You can demand that they not contact you by phone and some other stuff.

Personally, I'd call the utility company and if they weren't forthcoming with documentation, I'd read them the riot act and file a complaint with the public service commission. You have a good chance that the real estate agency or title insurance company still has documentation showing the house was sold with no encumbrances. There is no way that I would pay to have a utility transferred to a different name, anyway. I'd tell the utility to cut the power. If they want to charge the new guy a reconnection fee, that is his problem.

These collection agencies make money by pressuring people to pay stuff they don't owe. Don't fall for it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > House
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2017, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top