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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Fraud Examiner
Satisfied Customers: 12427
Experience:  Attorney experienced in criminal and various other areas of law.
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I got a letter in the mail from a company called Billing

Customer Question

I got a letter in the mail from a company called Billing Department Services in San Diego saying I owe $880.43 for unpaid magizines from 2012. I looked up the info and the mailing address is to a Box Store and the website address mu sercity on the computer says its unsafe website that impersonate address etc.. They got my address and my birthday. I need to know if this is a scam
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Fraud Examiner
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

We see a lot of people reporting that they're getting collection letters from alleged debt collectors for magazine subscriptions they don't ever remember getting, and of course it goes without saying you shouldn't be paying for something you never received. The fact that People Magazine itself is telling you that you don't show a balance is another sign that this is fraudulent.

I can't even find a Better Business Bureau listing for a company by the name of Billing Department Services (in itself a bit alarming) but these fake magazine collection scams are so common the BBB actually did put out a consumer warning like this one. Like in your case, the company name was very similar to an actual, legitimate company business, which is a way these criminals fool people.

Furthermore, under federal law, there are certain rules debt collectors must follow.

According to The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector must send you written validation of debt within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, you can send them a letter to request a validation of debt (see this sample letter).

The FTC outlines the contents of the letter that you should receive:

  1. How much you owe
  2. Who you owe
  3. Statement giving you 30 days to dispute the debt
  4. Statement that, if you dispute the debt in the given 30 day time frame, the collector will mail you the verification of the debt or a copy of the judgement against you
  5. Statement that the collector will provide the name and address of the original creditor (if different from the current creditor) if you write a request for that within 30 days

Note: If you dispute the debt within 30 days, the debt collector must cease attempts to collect until they’ve mailed you verification of the debt or a copy of the judgement to you. If you don’t dispute the debt, the debt collector can assume that you owe and continue attempts to collect – but that is not equal to admitting that you owe the debt.

With or without the validation of debt, if you know for a fact that the debt in question is not yours, then dispute it immediately. Disputing the debt is the first in a series of steps to expunging it from your credit report, but it’s the one most restricted by time.

Therefore, if a debt collector calls you about a debt that is not yours, request validation of the debt and make sure you send a written dispute of the debt within 30 days of the initial contact (to play it safe). The Consumerist lists a sample letter to help. And be sure to send these letters certified mail, so that you'll have proof that they were received and signed for.

I'd also suggest getting a copy of your credit report (you can get a free copy once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com) to make sure this doesn't actually appear on your credit report. If it does, you'll want to dispute it with the credit bureaus right away as well.

What I think is going to happen is you'll never hear from this "company" again because they know they're a fraud and once they see you're not taking the bait, they'll move onto other targets.

Please remember to kindly leave a positive rating for me by clicking on the stars, as that is the only way experts are paid for their time even though you may have already paid a deposit to the site. Follow-up questions asked in this thread do not cost anything additional after leaving a positive rating.

If you need clarification
about my answer or additional information, please use the SEND or REPLY button to continue our conversation. Your satisfaction is my goal and I am here to help!

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
the letter says all that but the Creditor is Periodical Warehouse.. The payment they want is paid by credit card paymets only. I looked them up too no listing either.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I would say its a scam then?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

I think their lack of being listed anywhere is troubling, and the fact that People itself says you don't owe a debt is also telling. Plus, I'm going to assume you never ordered these magazines. I think you'd remember if you did. I would still ask for debt verification using the same letter (or something similar) and check your credit report - but I'm not trusting this. I see this same sort of question from customers on this site too many times to believe it to be credible.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

What additional information can I provide you today or how may I clarify my answer for you?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

Please remember to kindly leave a positive rating for me by clicking on the stars, as that is the only way experts are paid for their time even though you may have already paid a deposit to the site. Follow-up questions asked in this thread do not cost anything additional after leaving a positive rating.

If you need clarification
about my answer or additional information, please use the SEND or REPLY button to continue our conversation. Your satisfaction is my goal and I am here to help!