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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 101759
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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We have winter home in Lake Havasu, Az. My husband was in

Customer Question

We have winter home in Lake Havasu, Az. My husband was hiking in the desert in April, 2016 and ran out of water on a very hot day. One of the responders came from Buckskin Fire Dept. in Parker, Az. During my husband's evacuation he was told there is no cost to us since we owned real estate in Mohave County and my husband declined, what he was told was a FREE helicopter evacuation if he chose. He declined and walked out with the responders. I was also told while waiting for my husband's return there was no cost since we owned property locally. We now have been sent to collections for $1300.00 after we sent verification of our home ownership. The fire chief stated "they are in a special district in LaPaz County and unfortunately our tax dollars do not reach us." We must pay the $1300 even after both my husband and I were told there is not fee for the service. What are the laws of Az. concerning demand of payment for a service one you did not request, my husband first contacted Fish and Wildlife, and second we were both told verbally, there is not Fee. Can't imagine how much a helicopter ride would have been!! Can we dispute this collection action?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. Can you please tell me:

1) Is this a collection agency requesting payment, or the department itself?

2) Is this on his credit report?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
It has been sent to collections and the full amount is due. Was not suppose to go to collections until we had the fire chief's decision in letter form which we received today. And no, not on credit report yet.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
That I know of.
Expert:  Ely replied 10 months ago.

Thank you. So here are the issues that are raised:

Under a well established doctrine, rescue services can collect on payment due for services, and do not need an agreement from the parties that they are rescuing. This is well established in common law.

The problem is that he has no proof that they told him that this would be "free." It is his word versus theirs. And of course, they are going to DENY that such a statement was made.

A good way to fight this off, perhaps, would be to send a letter to the collection agency demanding that they cease and desist. Example below:

To Whom It May Concern:

re: (name, account #, etc)

I have been receiving debt collection attempts from your company for the debt allegedly owed by me from (describe nature of debt). This debt is not valid. This matter has already been taken up with the original creditor. Despite me requesting so, your debt collection efforts have continued. Demand is hereby made that you cease and desist - now.

If you continue on, then I will have no choice but to seek redress under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for the following violations:

15 U.S.C. § 1692f(1) (seeking unjustified amount)

15 U.S.C. § 1692e (threatening legal action without cause)
15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8) (threatening or publishing false debt on my credit history)

Every violation is $1,000 per incident, plus legal fees.

I now consider this matter concluded. Should you contact me again, I will seek counsel to file an FDCPA claim in federal court.





Hopefully, this will get the collection agency to back off and not to place anything on the record, or, to sue.

Good luck.

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