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FirstTimeCaller
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Hi team,

 

Long time listener, first time caller. I never thought it would happen to me. Earlier this year I checked my credit report and found an item in collections for about $200. Huh? I paid all my bills. I don't owe anyone money. It brought down my credit score from about 820 to 699. This ain't gonna fly. I need every mortgage basis point I can get.

 

So, I disputed it with the CRAs as unknown. Bless their hearts, they conducted a thorough investigation and it came back as verified.

From here I made calls to anyone who might plausibly think I owed them money. I hit pay dirt with a utility company from three years prior. After explaining that they never sent me a bill, I offered to pay it if they could provide me with a copy of a valid bill and take it out of collections. They refused.

 

Back to the CRAs. I disputed it again: I was never billed, so this can't be delinquent. They dutifully investigated and concluded that it was verified.

 

Hmm... public utility companies are regulated. I wonder what I can do with that? My state affords residential utility customers some rights: you can dispute a bill at any time, the utility is required to answer your dispute in writing, during a dispute a bill cannot be considered "due", bills are due upon receipt, and receipt is rebuttably presumed to occur a few days after mailing. Armed with this, I sent them a dispute letter and someone there signed for it. After thirty days, I sent them a second dispute letter, which they also ignored. They must be really busy with something else.

 

Let's not forget about our friends the CRAs. I dispute it yet again: Since the underlying tradeline was under dispute, state law prohibited it from being reported. Validated. I'm beginning to think that they don't really care what I send them.

 

At this point, I contacted the utility commission. Here's where we meet Todd. I still couldn't tell you what Todd's problem is. Maybe he hates his job. Maybe he dreamed of being an actor but got stuck being the poor clod at the utility stuck answering complaints. Well, I explained it to Todd, "Todd, these guys never sent me a bill. When I disputed it they refused to reply to my dispute." Todd assured me he'd get to the bottom of the situation.

 

Todd's reply laid out the following:

  • They had received my dispute, but refused to answer it because they had already refused me.
  • They had sent me the bill. He had the bill right in front of him. It was my responsibility to pay my bills.
  • That I was welcome to waste more of my time fighting over $200.

 

Thanks, Todd! To his credit he sent me the bill. And there, friends, it was in black and white: The utility had mailed the bill to the wrong address. Not only had they mailed it to somewhere that I never lived, they mailed it to a house that didn't even exist. Someone had gotten very creative. Doing my due diligence, at Todd's suggestion (this time he came through), I contacted the person who had bought my house and asked them to check the address the utility had on file with them. And I'll be damned: the utility had the same bogus address for them. Jackpot. It was their provably mistake. Receipt rebutted. I told Todd and he told me, "nah" and invited me to send in a written appeal. He was also the person who handled appeals. Todd must be a Kafka fan. lol.

 

Yet again I disputed it with the CRA. Hey, this was sent to the wrong address. It's a bona fide billing error. Yeah, whatever, verified.

 

Here I turned to the papers and got in touch with a guy on the David and Goliath beat at a major newspaper. He was very excited to make hay out of it. But something came up on my end. It suddenly dawned on me. Todd had written something strange in one of his e-mails. The utility claimed that they had offered to take it out of collections in exchange for payment. Uh... what? That's what I offered them and they refused. Someone screwed up when typing up their notes. But hell, if it's in their notes I'll go for it. Todd put this offer to them. They accepted and took it out of collections. I cut them a check, wrote a letter indicating that it was being paid as part of dispute resolution. Todd declared the matter closed. Thanks, again, Todd. Good luck in Hollywood.

 

So friends, here we are. For good measure I lodged a complaint with my state's AG, sending them a 25 page paper trail. This mess should vanish off my credit report shortly. But you know what? I wasted a lot of time on this and would like to be compensated to the fullest extent of the law. Is there any FCRA liability for the CRAs failure to investigate or the utility's refusal to take it out of collections during the dispute or the CA repeatedly verifying a bogus tradeline?

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2 hours ago, FirstTimeCaller said:

I hit pay dirt with a utility company from three years prior. After explaining that they never sent me a bill, I offered to pay it if they could provide me with a copy of a valid bill and take it out of collections. They refused.

Who is this? This is your quickest way to eliminate the problem. You need to escalate this to their highest office. 

Edited by shifter
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Congratulations on winning a hard and well fought battle. Great story.

Looks like you came out of top of that.


My personal opinions.
As for your compensation I personally feel it is not having it on your report anymore.
I don't see that the CRA is at fault since it was your utility bill.
And I don't see that the CA is at fault since it seems it wasn't a bogus tradeline as it was your utility bill.

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 I checked this morning. Equifax has me back over 800. 🥳

 

9 hours ago, greendeh said:

I don't see that the CRA is at fault since it was your utility bill.
And I don't see that the CA is at fault since it seems it wasn't a bogus tradeline as it was your utility bill.

 

In most cases I think you're spot on. The wrinkle here is that Irrational Grid is a regulated utility. State law stipulates that disputed utility bills can't be treated as due, protecting consumers until everything is sorted out. They kept it in collections for the six months of this dispute. After Thanksgiving I'll consult with an attorney. 

 

I'll update y'all if there are further developments. Otherwise, I hope to ride off into the sunset.

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  • 4 months later...

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