11-16-2012 10:19 AM
I just received a letter from a collection agency for something I had no idea what it was.
When I called them, they said it was from an old water bill from my old house that I sold back in 2004. I know I received a final bill and I paid that final bill. I transferred my service to my new address and I have never been billed for this so called "owed amount" up until now, 8 years later.
The collection company said that the utility company just sent this over for collection in August of this year and it was a bill from 2005?? I told them that the final bill I received from the water company was paid back then, I moved, they moved my service to my new address and it showed a 0 balance at the start up at the new house. They told me to call the utility company and they would make a note on my account.
When I called the utility company, of course they argued that I owed the bill and the bill was from 2004?? So they are both telling me something different. She is suppose to send me "screen shots" of her computer saying that the bill is owed.
Now I know when I sold my house, I paid all the "final bills" in full and then transferred my service to the new home.
Can they actually come back and try to collect this bill (which I know I don't owe to begin with) from me? Is there a statute of limitations on something like this? They tried to tell me that there wasn't.
11-16-2012 11:01 AM
I would just go in with your last year of bills on the old house with all of your cancelled checks or other proof of payment on those bills. If it was the same utility company, I would also take the first few bills on the new account.
They should be able to straighten it out.
11-16-2012 11:15 AM
Yes, all states have statutes of limitations on consumer debt.
Utiliities are open type of credit (not to be confused with use of the term "open" when referencing an account status), being due in full upon billing, and are usually arise out of "written" contract with the consumer, as you authorize billing in your account agreement.
Look up the SOL period in your state for what I assume to be a written contract. The date of commencement of the SOL will be the date they assert you became in arrears.
That will tell you whether, if they bring legal action, you have an absolute SOL defense. It is not the creditor's view on SOL that governs, it is the court's.
If they dont consider SOL as a defense, let them bring action and support that assertion before a judge.
As an aside, you can decide to keep your potential SOL defense to yourself, pending any legal action they might bring. Probably the best course.
However, there is some advantage to providing explicit notification to the debt collector that your state SOL has actually expired. The reason being that case law has established that bringing legal action by a debt collector on a debt that is knowingly outside SOL is a separate violation on their part of the FDCPA, and could be brought as a counter-claim in any legal action against the debt collector for violation of the FDCPA. To raise that issue in court, you would be required to establish actual knowledge on their part, ergo your advisement letter to them. A bit of a hassle, but a possibility if you are so inclined.
Bottom line, have your supporting documentation of expiration of SOL at hand, and then the ball is in their court to attempt legal recovery.
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