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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I live in Washington state. Three years ago, my daughter joined

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I live in Washington state. Three years ago, my daughter joined a competitive cheer team; I signed a contract for the season and paid all the expenses. The following year, she was 18 and rejoined against my wishes. I did not sign a contract for the second year, she signed it. She made the payments from her own bank account and credit card, and it was well known by the owner/coach that she was paying her own way. The goal of this team was to win a bid to the Worlds competition, requiring a very high skill level, and it was standard practice to be lenient or not even charge team members who had these skills. My daughter was in that category.

When the year was over, she had a balance due around $2k. She has made payments every month since the season ended, based on a verbal payment agreement, and still owes about $800. Without any notice or warning, the gym sent me to collections for this balance. I have sent a dispute/validation letter to CA via CMRRR, but so far (11 days since it arrived) tracking shows they haven’t picked it up. The amount claimed by CA is not correct based on my daughters last statement and her records of payment. Signed contracts are standard practice at this gym. My name is XXXXX XXXXX the statement although my daughter requested it be changed, but they did not do so. All goods and services were received and paid for by my then 19 year old daughter, how can I be responsible?

My position is that this is not my debt. The owner/coach is known for sloppy accounting practices, as well as unethical treatment of customers and team members, and does not respond to inquiries. My daughter has always intended to pay this off. But how and to whom should she pay, and how can I be sure my credit report and prevent it from ever showing up again? If I negotiate with or send her payment to the CA, will that imply that I owned the debt? Should she keep making payments to gym? What if the CA does not accept my DV sent CMRRR, should I send another a different way? Do I have any claim against the gym?

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

To answer your question directly, in this situation you are not responsible. The reason is because you formally never signed off on the new charges once your child became 'of age' and could enter into her own agreements. They will of course argue that because your name existed on the agreement from the past, you are responsible, but that is not the case when the agreement was not renewed. I agree with your position in this instance, purely because from what you describe, any additional accrued charges had to have been agreed upon and consented by the parties including yourself. The only way I can see you being responsible is if when you initially signed the agreement, there was a clause that stated that you agreed to be bound by all charges going forward with this agreement, signed or unsigned.

Your daughter has to find out if the collection agency bought the charge or if they are acting as the agent for the initial party. If the former is true, that explains the potentially higher cost (as the collection agency can seek their own costs as well as the underlying debt), and she would need to pay the collection agency. If the latter, she can still negotiate with the initial party. The only way for you to be sure this does not appear is to pay it off and.or dispute it or even take the creditor to court over violating the FDCPA and attempting to collect the debt from the wrong party.

If you negotiate payments, so long as you do not sign any sort of an assumption of debt, the debt does not become yours. Your daughter should contact the gym and find out if the debt was sold--if it was, there is no reason to make the payments. You may likewise have the same FDCPA claim against the gym yourself for attempting to collect on a fraudulent debt.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thankyou Dimitry, this is very helpful.

What about the dispute letter I sent to the Collections Agency? I believe they do not intend to pick it up, and they will claim they did not receive it. I am 2 weeks into my 30 days to dispute. Should I try again, or send it some other way? How can I prove I sent them this letter? Also, if the gym has cashed any of my daughters checks AFTER they sold the debt, what should she do?

Thank you for your follow-up, Ruth. Glad to help.

A dispute letter is still not an assumption of debt, it is simply your position that this is not debt that belongs to you. If they refuse to pick it up, consider finding their business address via their registered agent and send it there as well--it will still be considered legal notice. To do so, find out where they are registered as a business, go to the business entity lookup website, and find their address directly.

If the gym cashed the checks AFTER they sold the debt, they either have to return the funds back to your daughter or forward them to the new owners of the debt, but they cannot keep the funds. Your daughter, in writing, has to demand such a transfer, or an accounting, and then demand that they send her the funds or forward them to the agency.

Good luck and be well! If satisfied, please do not forget to positively rate my answers to you at this time. Thank you!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again Dimitry.

One last question, the owner has just responded indicating that the contract is from my daughter, but says she will not stop collections against me until my daughter has renegotiated with her. Can she do this legally, and do I have any recourse?


Thank you for your follow-up.

To answer directly, the owner, if she admits that this is not your debt, cannot collect from you. Let her know that if she attempts to collect after admitting that this is not your debt, it would be a violation of the FDCPA and would permit you to file suit against her for damages and for fines stemming from improper and illegal attempts at debt collection.

Good luck and take care

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