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Frontier billed woman for debt she didn't owe, then sent her to collections

Robin Wiener is retiring, so she’s cutting her monthly expenses. When her internet provider, Frontier, wouldn’t give her a better rate, she took her business somewhere else.

“Anything you can save is better than not saving anything. Especially when you’re retiring,” she said.

Frontier told Wiener to mail back the equipment. But later, it said it never received it and billed her $100. Wiener tracked the package and said Frontier confirmed it made a mistake. 

“And they said, ‘Oh yeah, we did receive it. We’ll take care of this and you can be on your way,’” she said.

But it wasn’t that easy. Frontier sent Wiener another bill, which she again disputed and thought was cleared up. But it wasn’t. Frontier then sent Wiener to a debt collector. 

“I was freaking out. Because I worked really hard to establish good credit. And I didn’t want that to be a ding against me,” she said.

But it was. Wiener said her credit score dropped 50 points. She spent months going back and forth between Frontier and the debt collector to clear it up. But, no luck. 

“Over that six month period and how many hours I poured into it, I just couldn’t believe it wasn’t being taken care of, that somebody wasn’t standing up and saying, ‘Why, why can’t we do this right?’” she said. 

Wiener finally reached out to the I-Team for help. We contacted Frontier and it took care of everything right away – the billing stopped, the debt collector quit calling, and Wiener’s credit score went back up. The I-Team asked Frontier to explain what happened and why, but it never responded. 

“Hopefully these companies will change their business practices and get better because it’s not fair or right,” Wiener said.

Melinda Opperman, a consumer credit counselor with the nonprofit, said there are a lot of people like Wiener, who are being chased for a debt they don’t owe. She has some advice it if happens to you. 

First, dispute the debt in writing within 30 days

“There’s a tear-off portion in California on the bottom of the notice, and you’ll return that and ask for more information or dispute the debt,” she said.

The debt collector has five days to prove that you owe the debt. Opperman said many times they can’t – there’s an honest mix up – and the matter’s closed. But, if it does drag on, the debt collector is required to report to the credit bureaus that you’re disputing the debt. 

Opperman said debt collectors also try to collect on time-barred debt, an old debt that you no longer have to pay. If this happens, Opperman suggested you contact a credit counselor and don’t give the debt collector any information. 

“If they make a payment or if they make a promise to pay, they could start that clock over again like a fresh debt,” she said.

Finally, if you’re sued for a debt you don’t owe, go to court, so the debt collector doesn’t garnish your wages or bank account. 

“Go to court. You’ll be amazingly surprised how friendly and helpful the courts are in listening to your side of the story. It’s a service you never received, it’s merchandise perhaps you received but it was defective,” she said.

Wiener’s happy this is all behind her and hopes other consumers stand up for themselves.

“Don’t give up. Don’t pay a debt you’re not supposed to pay,” she said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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