Oh boy. They really took you. "evasion of debt"? Debt evasion is not a criminal issue in 99.9% of situations and in the few where it might be an issue, it doesn't involve the type of debt you're talking about. We stopped jailing debtors - even those who deliberately try to avoid the creditors - years and years ago.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY
I am a graduate student now, but a while back, I participated in a paid summer research program from a known national university (I will name it U for simplicity), back in 2007. Since then I have been moving around, because of college, jobs, etc.
Yesterday, I received a voice message from a debt collector telling me to call them back. When I called, they told me that I owed over 3500 dollars in unpaid tuition from the school U at 2007. This was obviously a fault from college U, since the program I participated wasn't supposed to charge me any tuition- I was paid for the summer, not the other way around. This was obviously a fault from college U. However, debt collectors didn't care.
However, the debt collector told me that since my known address from that time was what they only had on file, they had to jump around for this long and now they have tracked me down. They told me that since payment wasn't received for so long, they HAVE to have a payment record on file to debit at least 30% of it as a one time payment. They were "generous" in letting me have a few days delayed until this part gets debited, but they talked about how if I refuse to pay up, my credit will be damaged, and they will charge me for "evasion of debt".
I ended up giving them my card and address information, since I didn't want to be charged with anything and/or have my credit damaged from this egregious debt I wasn't responsible for.
I of course called the college U and complained, and it seems that there will be some finger pointing amongst themselves, with me in the middle. Aside from college politics, the conclusion is that I fear that it will college U much longer than I hope to get their **** together.
My specific questions I need help getting answered are these:
1. Was there a way that I should've acted to the debt collectors when I called them? They imposed a due date and an amount that is in the range of 1000 dollars, which is quite high for a student like me. However, I didn't my credit to suffer/ don't want to be charged (that evasion of debt clause) either. Was there something that I could have done? I heard ignoring calls is bad in this case, but should I have done that?
Do you have anything in writing? If not, I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw 'em.2. I had to give them my address, phone number, and credit card information. They told me that if this issue is resolved or "recalled", the collectors will erase these information in file. Can I trust them on this? If not, what can I do to ensure that they do?
Your college debts generally won't go away, but you do at least have a couple of options in terms of negotiating with them.3. Any suggestions and/or advice involving calls from debt collectors in the future? It seems that in the absolute worst case, as soon as I graduate (in about a year), these collectors will start calling me again when my college loans are due(Sallie Mae). I owe them a LOT more than 3500 dollars.
Standby for others to respond; but in the meantime don't EVER give out your credit card information unless there's actually a solid reason for doing so.4. If question 3 seems quite serious for my situation, can you give me an advice on what kind of attorney (if any) I should be looking for? Any websites that can help me in finding good lawyers? I know online ratings can be fraudulent more than anything, but at this point, I need any help I can get.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Tell them you're also aware that the law prohibits them from making threats.