Consumer Alert: The debt collector is calling. Here’s what you should do

It’s an excellent mark. Maxey is working with a local nonprofit to buy a house, and his credit report will serve as proof of financial stability.

She laughed as I checked her credit report which showed that her only debt was only $23. But her laughter belies the burden carried by years of sacrifice. She works part-time for the RCSD in the central district kitchen, a few blocks from the bus stop, determined to live on her meager means. So a letter she recently received from the school district stopped her.

The school district’s legal department wrote to inform him that a debt collector has filed a subpoena for his employment records, the first step toward garnishing his wages. It’s for Chase credit card debt that’s over two decades old.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Maxey said. “I thought it went to bankruptcy court. They [the debt collector] Say no, it’s not!”

That’s because, unbeknownst to Maxey, Chase filed a lawsuit before declaring bankruptcy. The bank obtained a default judgment for its outstanding balance of $2,522.28.

Ashley Dodd, a spokesperson for Chase, confirmed: “We took this debt to court in 2001 and sold it in 2002. Since then, we have had no legal or financial interest in the debt. “

Dodd refers to common practice. Banks sell old debt for pennies on the dollar. The buyer then tries to collect the debt. That’s what happened to Maxey. For years, she received letters that appear to be from the Chase Bank. But when she contacted the bank, she was assured that she owed nothing to Chase.

So that begs the question. If the letters aren’t from Chase, who are they from? And is the collection of this two-decade-old debt even legal?

With Maxey online, I called the debt collector, Maidenbaum & Associates and spoke to Amir Collazo. His LinkedIn page lists him as a forensic investigator. He abruptly said that he hadn’t spoken to reporters, but I kept talking.

I asked him if the debt was legal and he hung up on me. So the next day Maxey and I tried to call him again.

This time, Betty did all the talking. When she asked him about the debt, he said he wouldn’t talk to her because a reporter might be listening. By then Maxey had had enough.

“Well, if you have nothing to hide, you don’t have to worry about journalists,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about journalists if you have nothing to hide!”

And again, he hung up without answering the questions. We called three times and sent eight emails. I did not get any answer.

In those emails, I asked Maidenbaum & Associates partner Jeffrey Maidenbaum about a case that I found surprisingly similar to Maxey’s. A man named Keith Pitman sued Maidenbaum for deceptive debt collection practices. Like Maxey, Chase had sued Pitman and obtained a default judgment for an old credit card debt. Chase then sold the debt, and years later Maidenbaum attempted to collect.

Betty Maxey – Keith Pitman’s lawsuit against Maidenbaum by News10NBC on Scribd

“And the original documents sent by Maidenbaum gave the impression that they were collecting on behalf of Chase,” said Matthew Parham, an attorney at Western New York Law Center in Buffalo and attorney for Pitman.

But Maidenbaum was not representing Chase. Instead, the company represented the company that purchased the debt, Account Receivable System LLC.

“There should never be a situation where a debt collector only identifies the original creditor but not the current creditor,” Parham said. “When you’re collecting a debt, you have to identify who you’re working for.”

And he says failure to do so is false, misleading, misleading, impermissible, and a violation of state and federal laws. Maxey’s death is also very old. Is chasing a two-decade-old debt legal?

“Generally, a judgment is valid for 20 years from the date it is entered,” Parham said.

Remember, Chase legally sued Maxey in 2001 and got a judgment. Thus, a collection agent would have 20 years to collect. But many technical and legal questions remain about whether Maidenbaum’s time is up in this case. And Maxey isn’t giving up without a fight.

“I don’t think you should do anyone like that, especially hard-working people,” Maxey said. “Nobody should get caught up in this. And I think they’re so wrong.”

As a result of my investigation, Maxey decided to seek legal assistance from Legal Assistance of Western New York in Rochester, which provides free legal assistance to eligible individuals.

Here’s Deanna’s to-do list when a debt collector calls:

  • Take large discs. Ask for their name, company name and write down the date and time.
  • Check only your mailing address. Do not provide any other personal information.
  • Tell them they need to validate the debt and ask for their mailing address.
  • Send a letter asking them to send written validation of the debt. They must tell you who the current creditor is as well as the original creditor.

Also, the Governor has enacted a measure that makes it illegal for a creditor to sue you for a debt that is more than three years old. So never make a payment. Often, creditors seek payment in good faith just so they can extend the statute of limitations.

Here are some more great tips from Anna Anderson, attorney in charge of the regional consumer law unit at Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.:

The National Association of Consumer Advocates provides free referrals to state consumer attorneys at www.consumeradvocates.org/findanattorney/. LawNY also provides free legal assistance to low-income consumers with debt collection issues. LawNY’s phone number is 585-325-2520 and the website is www.lawny.org.

It is important to know your rights when contacted by debt collectors, as many debt collectors actually have no proof that they have the right to collect on your alleged debt (as is the case here) . Even if you think you owe money, don’t send payments in response to requests from an unknown caller. Contact your original creditor to find out if your account is in collection or not, which company they hired to collect your account, or which company purchased your debt. Collectors may contact you about debts that are past the statute of limitations or for debts that you do not owe. If you are unsure whether a lawsuit or judgment has been filed against you, contact the clerk of the court in the city or county where you live to see if there are any outstanding cases in your name. In many cases, consumers are never informed that they have been sued. If you are sued, contact an attorney immediately, as you only have a short time to respond before a default judgment is issued. You do not automatically get a court date. Talking to a lawyer about your rights is always the best idea, so you don’t fall victim to an illegal collection scheme.


Consumers should also report violations of NYS and federal debt collection rules to the NYS Department of Financial Services, the NYS Attorney General’s Office, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Free resources for consumers dealing with debt collectors are available on all of these agencies’ websites, in addition to the LawNY website.

Tana T. Thorsen