How do I avoid extra fees on parking tickets that have been sent to a collection agency?

2 years ago I got 3 university parking tickets. They went to a collection agency and they sent me a summons. I have no problem paying tickets but they added extra fees (attorneys). I offered to pay the full balance except the attorney fees but they refuse. Do I have to pay the collection agency, or can I pay the original creditor or set up arrangements with the city? Can the collector still sue me for their attorney fees? Or can I send them a cashier’s check for just the principle and say that it was paid in full? Can they still sue me for attorney fees? Anyway to avoid these extra fees? I have been sent a summons and only have 20 days.

Asked on July 27, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In the future, the way to avoid paying collections fees or fines is to pay the tickets promptly. It is not uncommon for collections costs, administrative  fees, interest, or other costs to be tagged onto late payment. If you have or can get a copy of the tickets (and any other correspondence you received pertaining), take a look at them; if they don't indicate somewhere that you'd be liable for additional fines or costs, you *may* be able to challenge it; though you'll also need to check the statutes pertaining to parking tickets for your municipality, and also any codes or rules for parking on campus, to see if in the law or university administrative code, you can be required to pay costs, etc. There is a very good chance the costs are legitimate.

Writing paid in full on a check is meaningless--it has no legal affect. Similarly, paying the principal but not other costs will not absolve you of the other costs. If you owe anything, then the creditor or their collections agency could sue you for those costs, if they choose.

Note that even if you do have to pay attorneys, etc. fees, if they are grossly excessive for the amount of work required, you may be able to at least challenge their amount in court and possibly get them cut down.


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