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Hay guys, I owe a court $633.00

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I get this letter in the mail from the "California Service Bureau" saying that I owe the Yolo County Superior Court $633.00. There are two amazing facts that I'm sure these idiots have failed to realize: 1. I left California in the summer of 2002, and 2. I'm in Korea. I did some BBB research on these guys, and the ratings range from "ok" to "not so great." I sent the guy an email asking him what the hell is going on, and I think I'll give a call also. Just in case someone's trying to mess with my identity, I went ahead and ordered a credit report from Transunion. Of course, the dumbasses there decided to charge me an extra $5.95 for some "credit analysis" crap that I didn't ask for. Another phone call is in order. I hate people trying to take away my money.
post #2 of 20
At least you got the letter. Imagine if you hadn't and the debt collectors started coming after you. I would think it'll be easier to deal with now, rather than later. On the other hand (sorry), if it's a small court claim that they won because of a nonappearance, you should probably consider hiring an attorney--I would think if you could prove they didn't serve you notice that you were being sued, you could get the judgment set aside.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
I wonder how the hell I would hire an attorney for this stateside stuff. I'm really in no position to, geographically speaking. I also don't know why someone would go through the trouble to sue me. The only legal trouble I got into in California was when I got ticketed for riding my bicycle past a stop sign on the UC Davis campus by some loser campus cop. Never did get that ticket, so I shrugged it off as a scare.
post #4 of 20
I got pulled over by the ride-heat in Davis once. Warning only. That was 1988. Jesus. I have gone through the turmoil of identity theft. No fun. If you ever want to talk about it, I'll fill your ear. I was in Rangoon when the notices started appearing at my parents' house. Visa was calling my father at midnight, accusing him of cc fraud, because he and I have the same name. he's junior. I'm the third.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am really starting to think that this letter is a scam. The bike incident happened in 2000 or 2001. My credit report in 2004 didn't say anything about me owing court fees or collection agencies. For some "collection agency" to suddenly send me a letter asking for $633 sounds pretty suspicious. Or maybe it's just normal procedure; I've never received one of these before. Reading the stuff on the Yolo County's court site, in the Traffic Court pages, there isn't anything about collection agencies anywhere.
post #6 of 20
I wouldn't ignore it. These things have a way of whirling out of control. Also, make sure you are very pleasant to anyone you deal with. I got burned by speaking my mind once - after receiving a phone call saying I owed 200$ to an agency. They didn't provide any evidence, but trashed my credit report anyway.
post #7 of 20
Courts in CA usually don't use collection agencies. There are much better ways of getting people to pay what they owe, particularly in the case of traffic fines where they simply hold your license renewal until you pay the fines. Or they issue a bench warrant. There may be some courts that will outsource collection activity, though. I wouldn't blow this off. What do you mean when you say you were ticketed but never got the ticket? Did you sign a notice to appear that the officer prepared at the scene? Did you have any contact with the officer where he got your information? If you signed anything at the scene, and never followed up, it is entirely possible that you have an uncleared citation, late fees, and perhaps even a bench warrant. Once you sign the notice to appear, the court does not need to send you anything and you are responsible for compliance. PM me if you like. This sounds sketchy but not out of the realm of possibility.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
I don't really remember what happened then. Maybe I signed something, but I can't remember. I'm sending a letter to this collection agency, certified and with return receipt requested, to see what's going on. What's bugging me is that the Yolo Court has a department for fee and fine collections, and I haven't even heard from them. Instead I get this thing.
post #9 of 20
You might also contact the Yolo County department you mention to see what's up. A phone call or e-mail might get you a quick answer.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm usually either at work or sleeping during the times the Yolo County court is open. Update: Got a hold of my credit reports from all three bureaus. There is nothing listed on any credit owed to a collection agency. Now, if a collection agency says I owe someone money, that amount should appear on my credit reports, right?
post #11 of 20
Alias, I do not believe so. In my limited experience the collection agency will contact you. If they fail to collect from you then it will be reported to the credit reporting agencies - ie experiean, equifax, transunion. Once it is sent to your credit report it is going to hurt your score - even if you settle the account immeadiately. You want to get this taken care of before it even appears.
post #12 of 20
I'm usually either at work or sleeping during the times the Yolo County court is open. Update: Got a hold of my credit reports from all three bureaus. There is nothing listed on any credit owed to a collection agency. Now, if a collection agency says I owe someone money, that amount should appear on my credit reports, right?
Unfortunately, this may be worth the middle-of-the-night call. The court will be the most accurate source of info. If you suspect scam, why deal with the collections agent that you don't trust? I checked around and it appears that some of the CA Superior Courts do use collections agents to collect past due fines, so it is possible this contact is legit. If you have a citation in collections there may also be a bench warrant out for your arrest in CA, which doubles the necessity of calling the court.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
I sent the letter a couple days ago to the collection agency. I'll wait for a response from them before I try calling the court. This collection agency looks very shady, though. I matched the mailing address to some results I found from the California Business Search. It looks like a guy named Steve Hodgdon owns them. I say "them" because there are more than one, because they've apparently been suspended before. I'll wait on the letter, then make the phone call. I seriously doubt this is from my run-in with campus police.
post #14 of 20
I'm sure it's nothing more than a hoax and a scam. Nothing wrong about checking it out though.
post #15 of 20
You could file an objection to the collection attempt under the Fair Credit Practices Act if you object to the debt. A response is due 30 days after your receipt of the collection notice. If you do not object, your credit may be impaired. But if you owe a court money you should pay it-perhaps directly to the court. This post does not constitute legal advice, BTW (do not purport to be licensed in CA-must be careful). I do have a letter that I sent out to a credit bureau in this vein.
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