How can I prevent a collection agency from ruining my credit?

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How can I prevent a collection agency from ruining my credit?

I cancelled my internet service and a month later they sent me a UPS shipping label and shipping instructions for the modem rental. I shipped the modemand have the tracking number and delivery confirmation from UPS. A month after shipping the modem, I received a letter from a collections agency (AFNI) stating that they were attempting to collect for the modem, which my former internet provider claims was not returned. I’ve contacted them both the provider and the collection agency and they each have told me that there is nothing they can do to help. I’ve had perfect credit for over 15 years. What can I do?

Asked on May 24, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

*Of course* there are things they can do to help you--or which you can do to herlp yourself.

1) First, they have to be able to prove that you did not return the modem in order to charge you for it--as the party seeking compensation, the burden is on them. It is not a given that you have to pay simply because someone says you do.

2) Second, if you can prove delivery, then you did your part--your responsibilty was to arrange for proper shipping. If you can show it was delivered, then what happened after that is the internet provider's problem (e.;g. if one of their own employees lost or stole it). If you can show delivery, they have no grounds to sue  you.

3) If they keep trying to collect from you after you prove delivery, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against them for fraud or harassment; possibly report them to the police for attempted fraud; and also report them to the BBB. You can tell them, assuming you have your proof of delivery, that if they keep trying to get money from you even though you properly returned the modem, that you will take any or all of these actions.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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