Not too long ago NCO Financial Services bombarded me with over one hundred and thirty telephone debt collection calls, (check out my earlier blog posting: Who the Hell is Gilly Young?) The notorious debt collecting company has now sent me an actual letter; this is, indeed, a new tactic.
In this maneuver, NCO Financial Services is claiming to be the collection agent for a utility company in Brooklyn, NY. This request for payment is addressed to me, personally, making no mention of the individual Gilly Young. The letter includes an account number, an address in Brooklyn where the service was performed and a payment coupon for the grand total of thirty-eight dollars and sixty cents.
This letter appears to be a reasonable request for payment, but there is one huge problem.
The debt is not mine. I have never lived in Brooklyn, NY.
I have already written to all the parties involved: the Brooklyn utility, NCO and the NY State Public Service Commission to inform them that this debt is not mine. I am not hopeful because I know this is just the beginning of another long, protracted battle with NCO, the company known to try any tactic, no matter how low, to collect money from people they have singled out. It does not seem to matter if you owe the money or not.
The lessons I learned in my last encounter with NCO are:
1. Always keep cool, calm and collected. When you lose your temper, they win.
2. Keep copies of every piece of paper you receive or send out: letters, receipts, contracts, bills. Better yet, send the copies and keep your originals safe.
3. Document the dates and times the collection company makes contact, either by telephone or mail. Document your responses.
4. Research consumer laws. Even if you owe the money, there are laws to protect the consumer from the vile harassment methods these collection companies employ. The Internet has incredible amounts of data on NCO Financial Services. Read as much as you can find and learn how to protect yourself.
5. Get in touch with consumer protection agencies by writing letters instead of telephoning.
6. Lastly, if you owe the money, make arrangements for payment as soon as you can. If you do not owe the money, don’t pay it— thinking you’ll get these people off your back. That will never happen. You might as well hand them your wallet and tell them to help themselves.
In the days ahead we will learn whether or not the letters I sent out today will be effective. From past experience, I think I am in for another long fight.