Image Courtesy of Jessicafm

I got a scary letter in the mail a few days ago. Among the usual junk mail and bills, there was a brown envelope with a return sender address and no name on the outside. I thought it was junk mail but then thought it looked like one of those brown envelopes you would get from the IRS.


I quickly opened the letter to find a nasty payment demand from a bill collector.
The letter indicated that I owed $19,194.84 and payment was due within 10 days or the would begin legal proceedings. I was 99.9% sure I didn't owe this money but needless to say, I was still very concerned. They had my address (which I know is easy to get) and they had my full name (which is also easy to get). At least I thought they had my full name, including middle initial, but after further inspection, they had a letter that at first glance, only looked like the correct middle initial.

I called the company up and spoke with a very nice young lady who pulled up the information from the account number on the letter. I explained my situation and she gave me a little more information on the account. The money was owed to the City of Windsor which is in Canada. I've never lived in Canada or north of the Mason-Dixon line for that matter. She wouldn't tell me what the account was for but after verifying my name, address and the last 4 digits of my social, she verified that it was not my account and they had made an error. She agreed to remove my information from the system and I would not receive any further communication from them.

To make sure this did not come back and end up being an even bigger pain in the butt, I
obtained the young lady's full name and a street address of the company. I explained that I wanted to send a certified letter confirming our conversation today. She was very open to this and even agreed to send me a letter confirming the error on their part. I've sent out my certified letter confirming the conversation but I've yet to received the letter from them. I think I will followup in a couple of days if I don't get anything.

If you get a letter from a debt collector, DON'T IGNORE IT. They may have more information than you think and can end up ruining your good credit ruined because of an error. Be sure to contact the company and let them know you don't owe them any money. Don't give out any personal information like your date of birth or your entire social security number. I was a little leary about giving the last 4 of my social but I was pretty sure they only wanted to compare it against the one they had on file. I was not going to give her the full number.

4 comments

  1. Philip // November 3, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

    Scary! I had received a collections letter recently at my house, but it was addressed to a different name. Now I am getting letters from a bunch of lawyers to that same name!

    Heh, my captcha is "INGING"

  2. zeromoney // November 3, 2008 at 9:39 AM  

    not to scare you more.. but you gave out your social security number to someone at the other end of a potentially fraudulent company that sends out fake mail in the hopes that someone (like yourself) responds to it.. just a thought, not saying it actually happened.

  3. Matt @ MyFinancialRecovery.net // November 3, 2008 at 11:48 AM  

    Man that would scare me pretty well too. Glad it was only a mistake.

  4. Budgets are Sexy // November 3, 2008 at 8:18 PM  

    holy crappola for real, that ish is scurrrrry! and i REALLY hope zeromoney is wrong on that one :(