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Afni Collections / Supposed Verizon bill from 1996!

1 United States Review updated:

I received a letter Afni this month (04/2007) advising that I owe $229.30 for an old Verizon telephone bill from 1996 to 1997. First of all, I doubt very seriously that Verizon would allow me to continue with my phone service for a year without payment. Also, I am more than sure when I applied for telephone service through their company from 1997 to the present I do not believe I would have been granted service without being advised of a past due bill. This is completely ridiculous. I have been working diligently to keep my credit clear to purchase a house for my two children and myself. Now here comes this company out of the "wood works" to tell me that I have an old account with Verizon that they have been "Asked" to collect on. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for this. If this bill is valid, why would Verizon wait a whole decade to pursue collection. Does that make any sense at all? I don't think so. Anyway, I really hope this company gets what is coming to it. Attempting to ruin peoples credit is a shameful profession and along the lines of desperation on their part.

Regards,
Williams,
jusmyday@juno.com.

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Comments

  • Rf
      12th of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    Afni Collections physical address is:

    404 Brock Drive
    Bloomington, IL 61701

    but google maps points to an empty parking lot.

  • Jo
      14th of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    Good evening... I'd like to show you a quote from some site. This website specializes in helping consumers with issues out of their hands and out of control. I do not work or write for this site; I simply have watched it with pride for over a year. They have lawyers and a boatload of numbers that may help you and others on this site to escalate problems with companies to the executive level all the way up to the CEO in some cases.

    On your issue: Credit/Collections. A sample of what constitutes a collectible debt...

    First the conversation, then after the tags are comments from the users from all over the world:

    05 08 2007
    Interviews
    Debt Collector Trying To Collect 7 Year Old Debt 3,752 Views

    NOTE-IM conversation begins-----> james: my wife got a collection notice yesterday about a verizon account she had with roommates in college back in 2000
    james: account was transferred when she moved out, there was remaining balance, verizon never alerted her and she just heard from collections yesterday, 7 years later
    benpopken: ha
    benpopken: 7 years?
    benpopken: that debt cannot be collected<------------------------------****
    james: yeah literally
    james: really?
    james: oh she's going to love that!
    benpopken: It's not from Verizon, right? Some collection agency?
    james: yup
    james: AFNI collections
    benpopken: Six years is the statute of limitations on debt [ed. It is, for NY, where James is. SOL varies by state, see this chart]<------------------------------****
    benpopken: these guys buy debt from other companies for pennies on the dollar, then harass people who don't know better
    benpopken: but you may want to write a letter to the company asking for them to provide proof of the debt
    james: wow
    james: i had no idea
    james: do you think it will affect her credit?
    benpopken: it will not
    benpopken: bad debt falls off the record after 7 years<------------------------------****
    james: oh right
    james: ridiculous that verizon doesn't alert customers
    james: when my wife was on the phone with the collection people last night the woman told her that she hears it all the time
    benpopken: yeah they will tell you anything on the phone
    benpopken: anything to get you to pay up
    benpopken: most debt collectors are ###

    (Photo: Clearly Ambiguous)

    james: i'm so glad we talked about this
    benpopken: you should hear some of the recordings
    james: thanks so much!
    benpopken: let me know if they start harassing you guys or keep calling
    benpopken: b/c they're not allowed to do either
    james: i definitely will
    james: ok here's another question
    james: apparently my wife told this woman she would call back and pay later
    james: which sounds like it = acknowledging the debt
    benpopken: doesn't matter
    james: because the statute of limitations has passed?
    benpopken: Yes
    james: whew
    benpopken: Look, if they call again say you know your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
    benpopken: and that they need to provide proof of the debt in writing
    benpopken: and all further communication will be in writing
    james: ok great
    benpopken: Tell them they're only allowed to contact you by phone to inform you of the debt
    james: sorry for all the questions. she's freaking out a bit
    benpopken: hey can't keep calling you to tell you to pay
    benpopken: no, I understand
    benpopken: I'm going to give you some links
    benpopken: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs27-debtcoll.htm
    benpopken: that is pretty much everything you need to know
    benpopken: "Things Debt Collectors Can't Do"
    benpopken: ""I Will Threaten Bodily Harm," A Loan Shark's Confession"
    benpopken: Credit Reports: How Long Different Items Stay
    benpopken: I also have a lawyer friend who specializes in protecting debtors
    benpopken: I can put you in touch if you ever need to
    james: well i appreciate the offer but hopefully it won't come to needing a lawyer
    james: do these people typically give up if they're dealing with someone who understands their rights?
    benpopken: Oftentimes, yes
    james: cool
    benpopken: They mainly prey on people who don't know the law
    benpopken: and use fear and bullying tactics
    benpopken: sometimes really bad, sometimes just being underhanded

    We should note that if Jame's wife actually does owe the money, she has an obligation to pay it. However, proof of the debt needs to be provided in writing first. — BEN POPKEN
    read more:

    * debt collectors
    * interviews
    * readers
    * telephony
    * transcripts
    * verizon

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    Comments
    No commenter image uploaded iMike says:

    Didn't know Ben was a lawyer. The answer whether a debt is collectible is much more complicated than a blanket "six years and you're home free."

    That said, plenty of creditors/collections agencies try to collect outside the statute of limitations. If that's the case, you have them by the short curlys IF you know what to do and are willing to do it.

    Start at the links Ben provided above and should you have questions, contact a lawyer who practices in your jurisdiction and who has experience in collections on the consumer side.
    05/08/07 11:13 PM
    No commenter image uploaded samuraimonkey says:

    the best things to do when dealing with a debt collector is to ask for validation of the debt in writing(a certified letter with return receipt) if after 30 days they cannot validate the debt then they have to report it as such. If you want them to stop calling or sending you letters then ask them to cease and desist(certified letter is good here too).
    All debt collectors have to follow the FDCPA, so its good to read up on that too.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Debt_Collection_Practice...
    05/08/07 11:25 PM
    No commenter image uploaded dwarf74 says:

    HA! My first job was at AFNI, though not in collections. It's a local company, and I still know some folks in the collection area. I wouldn't be surprised if they were trying to collect an uncollectable debt....
    05/09/07 12:26 AM
    No commenter image uploaded Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Ben is incorrect about the statute of limitations. It varies widely from state to state.

    There are also a lot of tricks they use to try and extend the statute of limitations. Nonetheless, it can't appear on your credit report after 7 years. But none of this means they can't keep trying to collect the debt forever.

    As Ben says, you can tell them to stop contacting you. If the debt gets sold, you'll have to inform the new owner of the debt.
    05/09/07 12:42 AM
    Image of faust1200 faust1200 says:

    All I have to say is this!

    Pic from 'naughtyconsumer' at consumeristforums.com
    05/09/07 04:17 AM
    Image of M3wThr33 M3wThr33 says:

    My dad had collections sent to him over 5 cents. He'd laugh each time he got a letter and point at the stamp's cost.
    05/09/07 04:18 AM
    Image of justbrag justbrag says:

    I agree with those above who urge caution in advising debtors that the statute of limiations period is 6 years. Unless you're referring to the credit bureaus' records, this is not necessarily true, and the limitations periods on suits to collect debt vary greatly from state to state.

    And there are certain circumstances (which can get complicated) where the limitations period may be tolled.

    Not to say James's wife isn't free and clear here, she very well may be, but the 7 years and you're free & clear thing isn't entirely accurate. And even if she has an SOL defense, if sued on a collection action, she can't sit back and do nothing. She will have to defend herself--although that'll be easy enough if she has a nice affirmative defense like SOL.
    05/09/07 05:39 AM
    Image of Ben Popken Ben Popken says:

    Actually, I happen to know that James is in New York, where the statute of limitations on written contracts and open accounts is 6 years (Bankrate).
    05/09/07 06:57 AM
    No commenter image uploaded guymandude says:

    Sending an improper demand for money through the postal service is federal mail fraud. Spend a weekend reading up on "negotiable insrtuments" law.
    05/09/07 06:59 AM
    Image of mac-phisto mac-phisto says:

    pull all three of your reports. check experian & equifax first - they deal more with telecom collections than transunion. you may have an entry from the collector that is dinging your score. you'll need to do some legwork to get that taken care of.
    05/09/07 07:43 AM
    Image of SkippyKilimanjaro SkippyKilimanjaro says:

    In a previous life I was part owner of a debt collection agency that purchased debt as opposed to being a contingency agency. We bought the cheap stuff and usually a good portion of what we purchased was out of stat (beyond the statute of limitations). You would be surprised at how many people would pay these off, especially if they were for low dollar amounts. There are a bunch of ways to reset those stat clocks too...if they haven't already passed the 6 year (or whatever) mark.

    If you are hellbent on not paying off your old debts, then the best thing you can do is not answer the phone and do not engage in any conversations about your debt with an agency.

    Another oddity of our credit system...paying off old and expired debts can actually lower your credit score.
    05/09/07 07:56 AM
    No commenter image uploaded cindel says:

    Umm no it's not complicated.

    If's out of SOL, they cannot collect and that's a myth that repaying off a collection restart the clock.

    Did Consumerist posted something about this a month ago?

    James and his wife needs to check their credit report and if it's on there; dispute it.
    05/09/07 08:21 AM
    Image of Ben Popken Ben Popken says:

    @SkippyKilimanjaro: Resetting the debt clock is a myth. See: Negative Items Fall Off Credit Report After Seven Year Itc....

    Looks like your collection agency not only fooled consumers, it fooled you.
    05/09/07 08:45 AM
    Image of Sam Glover Sam Glover says:

    You are right, and the "debt clock" does not reset for purposes of your credit report if you do something to acknowledge the debt.

    However, if you make a payment on the debt, it may reset the statute of limitations so that you can be sued on the debt once again.

    Those are two different things, and the rules aren't the same.

    As others have mentioned, just because the SOL and "debt clock" have run out, doesn't mean collectors have to stop calling. You still owe the debt, they just can't do anything about it if you don't pay.

    As SkippyKilimanjaro pointed out, one reason you might want to pay off the old debt is to help your credit score, since your credit score seems to be based primarily on your willingness to slavishly make payments on your debt for the rest of your life.

    I always tell my clients the best approach is to pay the debt once the debt collector verifies that (1) the debt belongs to the client, and (2) the debt collector actually owns the debt. And get everything in writing and/or make a record of your phone calls (with or without permission, as appropriate in your state).
    05/09/07 09:49 AM
    No commenter image uploaded Okiedog says:

    The city of brotherly love, wherein I reside, has started a campaign to collect old parking ticket debt. People are being called about tickets issued as many as 10 to 15 yrs ago. Is that legit?
    05/09/07 09:53 AM
    Image of Pelagius Pelagius says:

    I had a similar incident with one of those crappy store credit cards (World Financial Network National Bank - avoid them like the plague!). When I saw the hit on my credit report I disputed it and the collection notices started coming in. It took a year to sort it all out, with help from states' Attorney Generals' offices. In any case, disputing the charge seems to have resurrected the SOL. Don't know what the law is on this, though.
    05/09/07 10:19 AM
    No commenter image uploaded lewissalem says:

    My wife is a bankruptcy attorney and tells me that sometimes these collection agencies will call regardless of the statute of limitations. They will try to scare people into settling the matter over the phone "easily" with a credit card.

    Sadly the unsuspecting victim is unaware that they don't have to pay.

    BTW, if you are in bankruptcy and you get a call from anybody trying to collect, they are violating the law.
    05/09/07 10:24 AM
    No commenter image uploaded nighttrain2007 says:

    I received a notice from Verizon myself here in NC about two months ago. Problem is I haven't had a Verizon phone in well over 7 years. I was waiting for another notice from them but never received one. The bill was for $800. Problem is when I closed that account the bill was $0. Had some concern but looked into it as well and they had no standing
    05/09/07 10:31 AM
    Image of kerry kerry says:

    @Okiedog: That's probably different because, as I understand it, they're not collecting a debt but rather acting on outstanding warrants.
    05/09/07 10:32 AM
    Image of zouxou zouxou says:

    A somewhat related question: I've been getting calls from ru skokie several times a day for a month. They stopped and now I get calls from Allied Interstate 2X daily who occasionally leave me a message saying I should call them about a debt. I have no debts. Should I continue to ignore the calls?
    05/09/07 10:38 AM
    No commenter image uploaded Thassodar says:

    Sweet! According to that chart if I can hold off Washington Mutual for 4 years (Texas) then I'm in the clear!

    That is until I need a loan. Or a kidney. Or something else I'm never going to get from a bank.
    05/09/07 10:52 AM
    Image of Triteon Triteon says:

    @zouxou: Check out http://courtingdestiny.com/allied-interstate/
    I've had these people leave me messages to call back. As I've had an ID theft discovered in 4/06 I did, gave them my info and they told me I wasn't in the system. After a series of calls (21x in 3 days), including truncated v-mails and hang-ups, I contacted the Illinois AG (my home state) and the Minnesota AG (where Allied is located) and filed complaints. The calls stopped.
    (Sorry to hijack this thread!)
    05/09/07 11:04 AM
    Image of Smoking Pope Smoking Pope says:

    I had a "debt" brought to my attention for the first time 7 years after it was allegedly incurred. They said it was for $1,000+, from the University of Illinois (which I attended). When I pressed for details, they said they had none. So I told them that unless they could tell me what the debt was for in detail, I'd be ignoring them.

    10 years later (yep, they're still trying to collect 17 years later), their "one time settlement" offers are down to $90. Debt collectors who have no ammo are very fun to deal with.

    "Sir, I'm calling in reference to a rather large, outstanding debt you have..."

    "Oh, the U of I debt?"

    "Yes"

    "What are you wearing?"
    05/09/07 11:40 AM
    No commenter image uploaded automatic_blue says:

    First off - most debt collectors aren't ###.

    ALL of them are. Bar none. The debt buyer industry wouldn't exist if consumers were aware of their rights.

    First step - send them a cease and desist letter. Certified mail, or via fax (but save the transmission report). You can find a template at www.budhibbs.com

    Second step - silence is golden.

    Third step - Find a NACA attorney in your area. If you get sued on the debt you will have to put some money upfront fight the lawsuit but you will also have the option to counterclaim if the debt is truly past the statute of limitations. Thus you might see your attorneys fees returned, plus some statutory penalties.

    Forth step - If they violate the cease and desist order, find a NACA attorney and go after them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    Don't give debt collectors a cent of your money, much less waste time futzing with them on "their" terms. If you're requesting validation, negotiating with them or trying to get them to stop calling you, just quit it - you're still playing the game your way. The only appropriate response to any debt collector should be asking them what the name of the company is, their fax number, and their address.

    Debt buyers DO NOT, and WILL NOT play fair. NEVER pay them a damn cent if you don't have to.


    Keep in mind that sending a debt collector a cease and desist on a debt that isn't time-barred by the SOL could mean that the next response you get is a lawsuit over the debt. That's fine, you should talk to a NACA member attorney about fighting the lawsuit - debt collectors and buyers generally cannot prove up their debts in court.
    05/09/07 11:54 AM
    No commenter image uploaded Eyebrows McGee says:

    @automatic_blue: "ALL of them are. Bar none."

    Hey, screw you. I do debt collection for small businesses.

    Only I just send the letter with the 30 days notice. If they don't pay or contest, I just file the lien. (I collect for contractors; the usual remedy for non-payment of debts is a lien on the house.) I'm not really interested in chasing them down or spending time on the phone with them. Here's the debt, do you acknowledge it, great, here's what you owe. Done and done.

    There are a lot of ### debt collectors out there (and I defend individuals against them), but there are also a lot of scam artists out there who contract for TONS of work from small contractors and then refuse to pay up. Those businesses have a right to collect that debt or to pursue appropriate legal action. Just because most debt collectors are scamming illegal ###s doesn't mean debt collection isn't a legitimate activity WHEN THE DEBTS ARE LEGIT AND THE LAWS ARE FOLLOWED.
    05/09/07 12:07 PM
    No commenter image uploaded gmark2000 says:

    As the previous poster noted, a legitimate debt owing should be paid regardless of who is collecting it. The original person had a Verizon debt as a result of a move. Most people would have mail forwarded after their move or made arrangements. The onus is for the debtor to pay, not to hide from creditors.
    05/09/07 12:44 PM
    No commenter image uploaded xzbiz says:

    A few years ago I was hounded for some small debt I improperly assumed, I had ordered "trial" issues of a magazine and canceled the automatic charge for a full year within the allotted period of time but was apparently billed anyways. I didn't realize this until I started getting relentlessly hounded by a collection agency a few months later. They started calling me several times per day and sending me ominous sounding letters, I made the mistake of responding and it only fueled their efforts and made them become VERY aggressive, demanding that I pay this debt even after I asserted that there was none and send them copies of the trial program I had tried and told them to call the magazine to verify my cancelation.

    I finally ended up looking into the fair debt collection laws and found that the collection agency was being abusive per the guidelines for debt collection. I send them a letter telling them that I was aware of my rights and felt they were being abusive, and they never called again.

    So know your rights! They rely on you not knowing what they can and can not do to pressure you and collect debts that may or may not be appropriate in the first place.
    05/09/07 12:47 PM
    No commenter image uploaded North of 49 says:

    The one thing that really pisses us off about debt collection agencies are the ones that play hot potato with the debt. Either they have several different frontliners juggling the account so you can't get a straight answer or when you've finally shut one down, another one comes along about the same debt because they've bought it from the one who was shut down.

    makes me want to laugh, ya know?
    05/09/07 12:52 PM
    Image of Smoking Pope Smoking Pope says:

    I had a collection agency tell my wife that she should pay the $1,000 debt she owed in favor of paying for my chemo treatments. Nice, guys. Wanna come over and kick my dog while you're at it?
    05/09/07 01:14 PM
    No commenter image uploaded Eyebrows McGee says:

    @Smoking Pope: I have a lawyer friend who does collections for a hospital (his firm represents the hospital generally, so they have to do the hospital's collections work) and he says it is far and away the WORST JOB IN THE UNIVERSE because basically two kinds of people end up in hospital collections: People who've had ridiculously expensive and emotionally draining treatments for something like cancer and who've spent all their money fighting it, or ###s who decide they don't want to pay the debt so "hide" their assets by buying mom a brand new Ferrari or something and then declaring bankruptcy.

    He said basically you're either facing the worlds' worst ### (who are smug about their scumbaggery) or trying to wring money from a broke family that's already been through hell.
    05/09/07 01:38 PM
    No commenter image uploaded thejanna says:

    I had a sleezy debt collection company call me about some money I supposedly owed an old landlord. When I asked for an itemized list of the damages he was claiming and the amounts, I got a copy of a fax of a handwritten list that looked like it had been scribbled sideways on some notebook paper by a small child. I laughed, and sent them a nice letter about why I didn't owe the landlord a dime, and how they could go ahead and never contact me again.
    05/09/07 02:47 PM
    No commenter image uploaded Sonnymooks says:

    Part of my job is screening tenants, when I see an unpaid debt, I usually just reject the applicant outright. I'm looking at using a colleection agency for tenants that have been evicted and have found a few good ones. I'm still evaluating them though. Personally, any money the collector gets back for me is like a bonus.

    Either way, pay, don't pay, someone somewhere does hold it against you, and often you do not even know it.
    05/09/07 03:27 PM
    No commenter image uploaded automatic_blue says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Whatever it takes to help you sleep at night, brah.
    05/09/07 03:56 PM
    No commenter image uploaded amykleinpeter says:

    James' wife should get her free annual credit report (http://www.annualcreditreport.com/) and make sure that the collector is not reporting this debt as owing. The law is that after a set number of years it should not be reported, but collectors can and do change the date or the account number and still report.

    If the debt is reported, dispute the debt and if it still does not go away, it may be a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
    05/09/07 04:25 PM
    Image of Triteon Triteon says:

    @automatic_blue: So...Dude "A" runs up a debt. Dude "A" doesn't pay off. Dude "B" calls to ask Dude "A" when he's going to pay, and Dude "B" is the ###?
    Wonderful logic, truly insightful.
    05/09/07 04:28 PM
    Image of Smoking Pope Smoking Pope says:

    Most people, if they think about it, should realize that anyone doing debt collection is in a difficult spot. You've got to pry money from people who don't have it, or don't want to part with it.

    The beef with debt collectors is mainly due to those that are needlessly aggressive (see my post above), or just plain mean (again, see my post above). And once that behavior starts getting known, the whole industry gets a black eye. (It strikes me that debt collectors are much like lawyers. You hate them until you need one.)
    05/09/07 04:55 PM
    Image of SkippyKilimanjaro SkippyKilimanjaro says:

    @Ben Popken: You're right, I was mistaken. I was taking the re-aging issue from my personal experience with debt, not the practice of the agency I was involved with. I had just remembered reading an article about paying off old debts back when I was applying for mortgage and had to clear some stuff on my CR.

    That being said, an agency can reset the statute of limitations for collections if they can convince the consumer to make a payment on the debt.

    It is a common practice of many debt-buying agencies to to call consumers whose accounts are out of stat and convince them, in that oh-so-special way only collections agents can, to make a payment on the account even if it is only $.25. Once the consumer does this, the account's collection's clock is reset and now the agency can pursue all of its normal tactics to get its money just as if the account had never gone out of stat. Including suing the consumer.

    The distinction to be made is between re-aging an account which effects its reportability to the CRAs and re-setting the collections clock which simply allows agencies to pursue collections with all means available to them legally.


    Make sure of your state's limitations, but this bill is 3 years too late by any statue.

    If unsure, call a lawyer with a free question offer.

    Jocasta

  • Cr
      14th of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    Collection companies use unfair tactics sometimes

  • Ja
      22nd of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    Actually if you all must know, there are only two states (WI & MS) that have a statute at which point all collections must stop which is 6 years (same for credit reporting.) Other than that it's fair game. Every other state has a status of 7 years credit reporting and no statute on how long they can collect. My advice is to pay ALL your bills and most importantly, keep receipts. I mean, yeah the debt might be old and forgotten, but if the bill was actually never paid, be happy you got away with it as long as you did. Most collection agencies will settle debts with you anyways, depending on how old it is you can save up to 50% or so. Some collection agencies are complete scandals, but from personal experience AFNI is a straight up legit company, only thing is, their clients sell them your debts and it's their job to collect, if it's someone to be angry with it's the original creditors.

  • Ma
      4th of Jun, 2007
    0 Votes

    I too received a collection notice from AFNI about a verizon number I had more than 12 years ago in NY. And I too had another Verizon number in New York after the first one, at a different address - could I have established it if I had owed them a balance on the previous account? Doubtful. This is the kind of guesswork left to me, these 12 or more years later... Verizon today has no record of me, but asked if I'd like to start up service with them. After some research I found like many people here that Verizon sold AFNI an extensive and it seems faulty laundry list of numbers which had outstanding amounts that go way, way, WAY back. The only Co. which claims to have records today is the collection agency, so if the balance is an error on Verizon's part, then we no longer have proper defense to dispute charges. So basically, I found out today that I live in a country where a regulated public company can easily sell your name attached to an outstanding bill to a collector, which will in turn hold your credit score ransom until you pay an amount which you may have already paid in say, 1996. I've heard a lot about SOL here but at the end of the day our credit report is vulnerable and if the timing is wrong, it could have consequences for people. People who may have even paid all their bills fair and square and now must pay again to "make it all go away." Excuse me for pointing out the obvious but, this should never be possible in the first place. I blame Verizon first, and though I may sound idealistic - I blame my government for allowing this practice to be partially legitimate. I'm not the type to picket so I've settled on a far more practical approach. I will never be a Verizon customer. Ever. This is a fact. AFNI may get their $20 once they supply me with a makeshift copy of my supposed unpaid bill, and Verizon now has the handful of pennies for the sale of that bougus info. But in the longterm, Verizon will lose this customer for a lifetime of business.

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