Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Attack of the Leeches - Chapter 3

Chapter Three

The couple arrived home from work the next morning around 1:00 am to find two calls waiting for them on their answering machine. The first was from their credit card company, inquiring as to whether the couple would like to activate their card (as they had stopped using their cards and were attempting to pay down the balances, they had not bothered to activate them as new cards were issued.) Perhaps needless to say, Biff and Muffy later that day called the company and informed them that NO, they certainly did not wish to activate it.

The second call was quite curious. No background noise could be detected. All that could be heard was a male voice saying "Hello? Biff? Biff, are you there?" Suddenly a female voice whispered hoarsely "Bill, stop!" at which point the call was abruptly terminated. Biff and Muffy then knew who had placed the call, having previously done research on the agency. They had learned that the Head Leeches were named Bill and his wife, Judy. This call had been a blatant violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, because leeches are required by law, when placing a call to a debtor, to identify themselves by name. Judy had obviously been trying to prevent Bill from committing a reportable offense (a bit too late, Biff and Muffy would say.)

Biff and Muffy had a hearty laugh over this episode, imagining the heartsickness that must have struck Bill as he unsuccessfully attempted to access their inactive account and lay his greedy hands upon their funds. Poor Bill was not going to get any of Biff and Muffy's money then, or ever.

Subsequently, Biff and Muffy began receiving daily calls from one or another of the lesser leeches, insisting that they needed to call the agency. Biff and Muffy joked about how wrong that was - that the leeches needed Biff and Muffy to call them. The couple made it into a sort of game, placing bets on which lesser leech would be calling on any particular occasion. They never again spoke to anyone at the agency - the best advice that Biff and Muffy had ever read was "NEVER DEAL WITH THE COLLECTION AGENCY."

This is true for a simple reason - the agency's main weapons are ignorance and intimidation. Legally, there is nothing they can do unless the size of the debt makes it worth their while to file a lawsuit, and they understand that while they may be able to win a suit and attach a lien to a home and garnish one's wages, the possibility of bankruptcy could render their legal actions fruitless.

The phone calls, though still being received, gradually tapered off and became sporadic, deteriorating into a series of mysterious calls which featured no spoken words, only the generic background noises of an office - chairs scraping along the floor, ringing phones, and the ghostly sounds of other conversations mingled together, no doubt calls to other poor souls being badgered to pay up or die. One phone call, though, remains in Biff and Muffy's memory to this day - frustration at the agency must have been running high that day, and perhaps a concerted effort to close aging accounts was being attempted, for the wife of the Head Leech, Judy, personally phoned Biff and Muffy, possibly relying upon her supposed powers of intimidation to compel them to answer or return the call. But of course she could not know that the couple had done their research and knew her first and last names and where she lived.

Her monologue began this way, delivered in a nasal, peevish and hard-bitten whine - "Biff, Biff, Biff. This is Judy. Don't you think I deserve a courtesy call? I think I deserve a courtesy call." There was more, but Biff and Muffy were by that point doubled over with laughter; it was, quite possibly, one of the most humorous things that they had ever heard. On random occasions, either Biff or Muffy are still prone to break into a chant of "Biff, Biff, Biff" in order to crack each other up.

The couple received quarterly written notices reiterating the attempt to collect on the debt, the amount of the debt, and an observation that the balance remained unpaid. These too were roundly ignored by Biff and Muffy. They assumed that these were sent mainly for legal purposes, as they were already conversant with the information.

In October of 2005, the statute of limitations for their state expired, and after a last desperate spate of calls shortly before the expiration, Biff and Muffy have not heard, nor do they expect to hear, anything further from the agency. However, Biff and Muffy have recently become aware of disturbing information that they would like to share. There are small outfits out there in finance-land that make a business of buying up debts that have been written off for mere pennies on the dollar, and begin the cycle all over again, instituting new attempts to collect on the bad debt. Biff and Muffy wish everyone to know that if you have ever been, or in future find yourself in a similar situation, and someone should call you after the statute has expired inquiring about your debt, you must tell them that you have no idea what they're talking about. If you even admit to anyone that you did owe the debt, you may invalidate the statute of limitations and discover yourself to be at the beginning of a new seven-year cycle. So take a tip from Biff and Muffy - silence is indeed golden.

Listed below are a few sites that you may find useful -

http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf

http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/statue-limitations.html

http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs27-debtcoll.htm

 

On a happier note, today is our 37th wedding anniversary. We're still together, despite stormy weather. Please be happy for us. 

Peace.

2 comments:

sunnyside46 said...

Yay! I am so happy for the two of you. You have been through so much and you still have a love that shines out through the typing of her name.

Marti

mutualaide said...

OH HAPPY, HAPPY Anniversary!  Woohoo You TWO!!!!

Pleaes tell me you were GOLDEN on this occasion... please....