Jewish World Review May 24, 2000 /19 Iyar, 5760
Battling with collection agency
DEAR BRUCE: Where can I file a complaint? Four years ago I was billed for an item that I did not order nor receive. It was an error by the company. The item was charged by another family member. The company corrected its error and acknowledged that there was no debt after a lot of aggravation and phone calls.
Now, three years later, I received a letter from a collection agency demanding payment! I have tried to contact the company and the bank that they are using for their credit card, but they won't respond to my phone calls or e-mail.
In the meantime, the collection agency is hounding me, they won't listen to me, and they won't give me any information. I don't know where to turn next. -- L.R., via e-mail
DEAR L.R.: Yours is a relatively common problem. While the company acknowledged that the debt was improper, they often forget to clean up their files. Then other companies that buy "bad debts" come along and try to collect. These companies purchase outstanding accounts for pennies on the dollar.
If I were in your position, I would simply send one -- only one -- letter, certified to the collection agency, copying the company, with the details that you have outlined. In the event that they send further communications, photocopy your letter and send it off. There is nothing more that you can do until they take a positive action such as bringing you to court. You should include in your correspondence a paragraph stating that you will hold them civilly responsible for any damage to your otherwise stellar credit.
The next move is up to them. If you are obliged to go to court, hopefully you will have documentation of what has transpired and there may even be cause to move against them for damages.
DEAR BRUCE: I have been told that government agency bonds are a better investment then CDs. It was explained to me that when someone takes out a CD at the bank, the bank turns around and invests the money into government agency bonds. This is how they make their profit. -- B.B., via e-mail
DEAR B.B.: There are many ways that banks make money. In some cases, they will buy government instruments, which are sometimes called federal funds. Sometimes they make money by loaning money to customers. The bank turns a profit by paying less for money than they charge for it.
You could probably do better by a percentage point or more by buying the long-term bonds, which generally bounce around 6 percent.
DEAR BRUCE: I am newly married at 44. My husband owns a condo under his name as sole owner. He said that he had it written that way so that his ex-wife could not get it. He has had major heart surgery, and I am worried about what will happen to our house if something happens to him. Would I have no place to live? -- K.B., e-mail
DEAR K.B.: It seems to me that your husband could set this up in a number of ways. He could leave the condo in its entirety to you by will, and other things being equal, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, it would seem a reasonable request on your part. Whether or not your name is added to the deed while he is living is for you and he to decide upon, but I don't think it seems unreasonable for him to agree to leave the condominium to you in the event of his
Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).
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