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WiseOwl58
WiseOwl58, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 2734
Experience:  Experienced business lawyer.
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I have a whopper of a legal situation and it involves a contract

Customer Question

I have a whopper of a legal situation and it involves a contract dispute and my credit has been ruined. And I just found out NEW INFORMATION at the bottom of this complaint which vindicates me, because unlike Sean Hogan, I don't lie and steal.

Three years ago I went into a contract with a company called Compass Internet Systems, to do SEO on my real estate website. The site was supposed to be optimized by an "SEO Expert" with tons of experience, with the guarantee that I would get on page 1 of Google. They "outsourced" the work to a college kid who knew nothing about SEO. This kis had access to my Point 2 Agent website via my password. He went in a couple of times and did a terrible job with the keywords. He also did this LIVE instead of on the "backend,", so during that entire time I was unable to receive any e-mail and potentially lost leads. I was so unsatsified with his "work" that I had to go back into my dashboard and clean up the mess he made with the keywords.

I checked my stats for the next two months and they were terrible. I received almost no leads, and my website did NOT appear on page 1 for the three phrases I actually paid for. And I had to pay half - $1,700 - up front, with monthly installments afterwards. It was an annual contract.

Compass had their own prioprietary "statistics" system which showed an increase in my traffic. But according to every other tracking system, including Google and Alexa, my stats were going down. And I was not appearing on page 1 of Google either.

The president, Sean Hogan, spoke with me at length about my grievance and he agreed we should cancel the contract since it wasn't working out. That was two months into the contract, with 10 months left. He said he would not charge me for the remainder since the contract was cancelled.

Several months later I began receiving letters from Monterey Collections demanding that I pay the $1,295 because the contract was still in force! Meanwhile, nobody from Compass ever came back to my site's dashboard once Sean Hogan terminated the contract with me, and I had even changed my password. They had no access and did nothing. ANd now, they were demanding money AFTER Sean Hogan cancelled it. Therefore, I REFUSED to pay the $1,295 since Mr. Hogan released me from the contract months before. Monterey hardballed me, and said they'd send the bad rating to every credit burea and ruin my credit, and that it wouldn't go off my report until 2016.

I disputed the $1,295 charge with my credit card and lost (Sean Hogan came back and showed their bogus "stats" indicating an INCREASE in my traffic when it was actually decreasing.) Monterey said they would not reverse the charge and it remains on my report until this day.

NEW INFORMATION: I just found out that last year Sean Hogan, President and Treasurer of Compass Internet Systems, improperly shut the company down overnight, without any notification to his clients or staff. He stole money from his wife to fund the company. He eliminated staff's access to the database, the office and to all monies while stiffing clients (and Blackwater, the partner company) for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The direct link to this release is here:

http://blackwcg.com/form/cis/

In other words, Sean Hogan is a LIAR and THIEF. I tried to tell my credit card company and Experian that he was lying when Monterey insisted my contract was still in effect. They didn't believe me then, because of the "stats" Sean Hogan sent to them "proving" Compass did work on my site. But that was only for 2 MONTHS. They never came to my site after that and never worked on it after that.

I just called Experian and they sent a letter to Monterey Collections to take this horrible bad rating off my credit report, based upon this new information. I just called Monterey and asked them to remove the bad rating from my credit report. They refuse, claiming I signed a contract (it doesn't seem to matter that I was RELEASED from the contract or that Sean Hogan is a liar and thief). I always told the truth, and he DID release me from my contract when we spoke on the phone.

I called my bank and they are opening up my dispute again, regarding the original charges on my credit card. When I spoke to Experian today, they resent a request to Monterey, this time stating that the charge against me should be removed.

Monterey Collections is a horrendous company and they refuse to comply.

I NEED HELP. What can I do about this horrible situation? I want to sue Monterey for keeping this rating on my credit report. The fact that Sean Hogan stole money and "stiffed clients and us for hundreds of thousands of dollars" speaks for his character. When he spoke to Monterey, he obviously lied to them and told them my contract was still valid so he can collect the money.

Please assist me with this. Thank you!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  WiseOwl58 replied 2 years ago.

As a next step, I would recommend that you initiate a credit dispute with each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

The credit bureaus will conduct an investigation and if they determine that the information on your report is erroneous, they are under legal obligation to remove it. These are your rights provided by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

You might get better results with the credit bureaus conducting the investigation, because they have a little more muscle to exert. You will have the opportunity to provide the credit bureau with your side of the story and all applicable evidence and documentation, and they will take this into consideration.

The links to open the credit bureau disputes are as follows:

Experian:

https://www.experian.com/consumer/cac/InvalidateSession.do?code=DISPUTE&channel=8342

TransUnion:

http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-disputes.page

Equifax:

https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/

Good luck to you. Please press the green ACCEPT button. Thanks.

WiseOwl58, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 2734
Experience: Experienced business lawyer.
WiseOwl58 and 4 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear Wise Owl 58,


 


Thank you for your prompt and assistance. I do have a follow up series of questions and issues for which I need clarification please:


 


First, I did ask Experian to dispute this for me but they claim they cannot do it, because Monterey Collection now owns the debt. I don’t know if I am listed with the other bureaus but based on the bullies I’ve been dealing with at Monterey, I’m certain I am.



I spoke to a very nasty, bullheaded and vicious representative at Monterey Collections yesterday. She basically called me a liar and told me I owe the money and the contract is valid (it is NOT because Mr. Hogan released me from it, although he lied about this later to Monterey and told them he never cancelled it). The rep is demanding I make the payment of $1,295, unless I provide written proof that I cancelled the contract with Sean Hogan. I do not have written proof, because Mr. Hogan called me to cancel the contract and did it over the phone.


 


I never heard from Compass or Sean Hogan again, until about one year later when Monterey began sending me a series of collection notices and demanding payment. I tried to dispute the charge with my bank. Suddenly, Sean Hogan came out of the woodwork after a whole year's absence to produce bogus keyword entries his company supposedly made to improve my site, when in fact he had not been on my website for 10 months.


 


Now, Monterey is demanding that I show written proof that the contract was cancelled. They are treating this issue as if it is one-sided, as if Mr. Hogan had no responsibility here. His side of the contract required his SEO expert to come to my website every day and do SEO and daily stat monitoring. Point 2 Agent (my hosting service at the time) verified that Compass never came back to my website again after the first two months I hired them. So Sean Hogan reneged on his part of the contract. However, the customer service manager at Point 2 Agent REFUSED to put this crucial fact in writing for me. Why, I don’t know. But it is one of the reasons I immediately dropped Point2Agent and never used them again to host my site.


 


The worst part is this: Yesterday the representative from Monterey demanded that I prove a negative. They want me to prove Mr. Hogan cancelled the contract on the phone. How can I prove what he said in a phone conversation? Once we got the notice from Monterey one year later that the contract was still valid, I remained in contact with Monterey. My husband tried to contact Mr. Hogan numerous times, and each time he called Compass they hung up on him and refused to talk to either of us.


 


I made the reasonable suggestion: Why doesn’t she ask Mr. Hogan to PROVE he actually did work on my site for the entire year the contract was supposedly active? She refused. So the demands for Proof are only upon me. According to Monterey, I owe the money and Compass has no requirements upon them to do work on my site. Nor did they meet the obligation (in the contract) to get me on page 1 of Google for the search phrases I paid for.


 


I personally believe this company Monterey Collections is working in cohorts with Compass and Sean Hogan. I am beginning to think they were paid off by Mr. Hogan to browbeat me into submission by paying monies I do not owe. Otherwise, why it should take a whole year for Mr. Hogan to suddenly decide the contract is still valid? The only answer is, he was working with Monterey Collections to figure out a way to get this money from me, and Monterey probably worked out a deal and perhaps bought half of the "debt" Mr. Hogan claimed I owed.


 


Also, it is very difficult after one year to go backward and prove anything that was in writing. My website was no longer active with Point2Agent so I had no access to my old dashboard to prove Compass did not enter the site. But for the first couple of months, I had proof. How convenient that Monterey comes forward a year later and demands retroactive proof when I was told there's no contract, and no need for proof anymore.


 


As indicated in my previous lengthy post, Mr. Sean Hogan is a liar and thief. This fell on deaf ears yesterday when I was arguing with the woman rep at Monterey.


 


I am very distressed over this and it is affecting my health. I will never be able to get a loan, get an apartment or do anything until 2016 unless something is done about Monterey.


 


Can I sue Monterey Collections? Is there a governing agency that collection agencies report to, and if so who is it so I can contact them and let them know that Monterey Collections is abusing me? I can’t stand what is happening here. Please, I realize this is a long follow up but it is a very serious problem that can happen to anyone.


 


For the records, they are a horrible company and I want to do anything I can to expose their bullying tactics. I've never seen anything like this, or like the disgusting person I spoke to yesterday. I feel unbelievably helpless.


 


Thank you so much for your kind attention and time to thsi matter...!


 


 


 

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Your previous expert opted out. you can indeed sue the collection agency for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you can seek up to $1000 per violation (each call with threats, the refusal to provide proof of the debt to you, the refusal to provide proof they had rights to collect the debt), plus your attorney's fees for having to sue them. Furthermore you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in addition to suing them for violations of the Act. You should consider getting yourself a consumer protection law attorney and pursue the collection agency.

In addition to your suit under the FDCPA, you can sue the other party for lying about the debt and provide proof that the debt was extinguished in court and you can collect damages from him as well for fraud and unfair and deceptive business practices. You can also report him to the Attorney General's Office for a fraud investigation by them in addition to suing him for fraud.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

One more quick follow-up question to this:


 


You mentioned I should get a consumer protection attorney because the collection agency is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I am taking your advice and am seeking a consumer protection lawyer (I'm looking on Martindale.com).


 


Question: Monterey Collections is located in California, but I live in New York City. Also, Compass Internet Systems (the company I hired and had the contract with) is also in California.


 


Should I get an attorney where the collection agency is, in California, or in New York? On Martindale and all the other sites, you need to indicate the state. I'd rather use an attorney in New York, if possible.


 


Thank you.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
You need to get one in CA, where they are located in order to get personal jurisdiction over them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok...thank you!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
You are welcome.

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