A few weeks ago we got a letter in the mail from a debt collection agency indicating that we owed $38 for a past due account they acquired from Verizon. I was personally offended.
I pride myself in being ridiculously anal-retentive. Yes, we've moved many times, and as such, we've set-up and cancelled many a utility service. In doing so, I have paid strict attention to making sure we pay for services rendered and received. If fact, I've usually been the one on the phone to the utility company making sure they have our forwarding address so we will receive a final bill.
Interesting to note in the case of this particular "debt":
1. The debt was allegedly incurred in July 2000, while we were living in Towson, Maryland. At that time, however, our phone service was with Atlantic Bell. I have been made aware that Verizon did buy out Atlantic Bell in July 2000, however, our service had already been disconnected since we were in process of moving to Stevenson Ranch, CA.
2. I actually have our initial bill from setting up our Atlantic Bell account in June 1999 (I save EVERYTHING tax deductible!) The account number does not match that of the allegedly past due account. Unfortunately, I don't have the final bill, as it wasn't tax deductible and it was paid 8 years ago.
3. Our Atlantic Bell telephone service was prepaid, meaning for example, the bill you pay in January is for the service you will be provided with in February. Our monthly service fee was in the ballpark of $17. We had no long distance service, since my cell phone had free long distance included (yes, I'm that cheap) and could therefore not possibly owe for long distance phone calls.
4. The statute of limitations on written contract debts in California (where we live now) and Maryland (where we lived then) is 4 years. As such, any notification of a past due account should have been made long prior to July 2004.
As I stated earlier, I was and still am personally offended that we received a letter from a collection agency. Nate wrote a strongly worded letter demanding copies of any and all documentation regarding this alleged debt. I'll be seriously suprised if we ever get a response, as I'm sure this agency is a "scavenger debt collector" at best and fradulent scam artists at worst, hoping victims with poor memories will just pay the past-due amount as an easy way out of the situation. No such luck with me - these guys chose the wrong chic to try to scam.