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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10215
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Good Afternoon, I am quite frustrated today due to a debt

Customer Question

Good Afternoon,
I am quite frustrated today due to a debt collector who contacted me demanding payment TODAY. Allow me to explain - I was an independent distributor with a marketing company called Momentis that dealt with energy services, and I purchased (was paying monthly) for a set of boxes that are supposed to help decrease the ions/electronic field in your home that supposedly zap your energy and cause health issues. Nevertheless, I was with the company about 3 months, and paid several payments on my subscription for my EMS system (the boxes). At some point, I allowed my payment to lapse. This was several years ago. In March of 2015, I received a call from Paul Anthony the CFO of the Law Offices of John F. Blevins. Basically, he informed me that I HAD to pay the remaining payments and legal fees on the EMS meter and that I was NOT protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it was a business transaction - not a personal transaction - even though the EMS meter that I have is the one I personally now use (it was still in the box after all those years.) Nevertheless, he said that with the payments owed and atty fees it totaled $1360.10. I agreed to pay that over 6 payments. Well, I paid 3 payments, and then got sick and asked them to allow me to pay the remaining amount through the next 2 payments. I paid the next 2 payments, but forgot to add the additional amount. Yes, that is my fault. Nevertheless, I hadn't thought about it anymore as I didn't have it carried over on my budget form after August 2015 which is when I made the last payment. This brings us to today. Paul Anthony contacted me this morning saying that I owed $548.10 AND that it had to be paid TODAY or else, he would advise their "client" to place this on my credit and pursue further legal action. After looking at the payments that I already made totaling $1,111.95 which would mean that I ONLY owe $248.10. I asked him to send me an itemization of where this additional $300 came from, and he said that he didn't have to send me anything, and it's my fault that the additional amount is on there because it's additional attorney fees for having to "track me down." He didn't have to track me down - my number and email address are both the same from when we were in contact before. All I know is that he has stressed me out today, and I should not have to pay $300 for a phone call - $300 that I did not initially agree to pay. I am in need of legal advice ASAP as he is saying that they can still add 3 or 4 times that amount to the balance if it is not paid today. I need to know what my legal rights are, and if this is outside the range of the Fair Debt Collection Practices and laws protecting consumers from such threats due to an outstanding debt. Please help!
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
Dear Customer,I am sorry to hear of this matter.I am surprised that an attorney is pursuing a matter of less than $1,000.00. You may want to check to confirm their law office and that this attorney is actually licensed to practice in TX. This amount is well below the small claims dispute threshold, and even assuming all of what they are telling you is fact (which we will discuss in a moment), this isn't going to warrant hiring an attorney for most businesses.The FDCA should apply to your situation (even if it doesn't by virtue of you purchasing the product for your use through a vendor account, a careful debt collector wouldn't risk it).I am particularly concerned by their position of "we do not have to send you any invoices to support our calculations" - this is an impossible position to work with.You can still try exercising all of your remedies (including a "no contact letter") under the FDCA - if the creditor decides to challenge this, then you can raise this as a defense and let the court make a ruling (you stand a lot to gain, they have a lot to lose, and over a disputed amount of $300.00 this isn't a good bet for them to make): do have a more complicated issue in that you signed a repayment agreement but failed to make all of the payments. Do go back through that repayment agreement (as well as the original purchase agreement) with a fine tooth comb. See if you can identify any interest or penalty provisions. The repayment agreement is going to be deemed to have "superseded" (or replaced) the original agreement, but it is important to be aware of the earlier agreement's terms and conditions.If you do believe after reviewing your repayment agreement, and your payments that you made, that you are short, you will want to make those payments. (With a last payment date of 2015 you are going to be well within the statute of limitations). Unless you find something in there that specifically supports the additional fees, they have no basis to be charging you these additional fees. Many contracts do provide for the addition of "collection fees and costs" - which do include attorney time, and that does get expensive very quickly, but without sending a demand letter or any other correspondence following your non-payment, $300.00 on such a small debt seems very steep. (Just be cautious here, if your contract does have such a provision, they can attempt to make this amount greater, in which case you will be fighting over attorney's fees in court, which isn't a very good use of anyone's time or money, and there is always a risk the court will interpret the contract in their favor).While you can sue a company for violations of the FDCA, it usually isn't worth your time and money for very small debts, however, you can report businesses for bad debt collection conduct to your State Attorney General, and you can report bad attorney conduct to the State Bar Association. These entities will not help you resolve your immediate dispute, but they can investigate the conduct at issue and they can potentially take administrative action against the business or law firm if they find that a violation occured.

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