Being Asked to Pay a Cable Bill I Don't Think I Owe

by Lorna
(Sunnyvale, CA USA)

Long story short, I originally had an account with Comcast for cable service up until March 2009 in Sunnyvale, CA. I moved to a different residence in April 2009 (still in same city) and closed my account with Comcast and personally returned all equipment and paid any outstanding balance at that time. I was given a receipt of zero balance, which I kept for 1 year before throwing out. At that point my understanding was I that I was completely squared away with Comcast and washed my hands of them. Recently, around late April 2011 I received a debt collection letter from a debt collection agency in regards to, what they claim, was a balance that I had with Comcast. I NEVER once received any statements or letters from Comcast in regards to the amount they are claiming I owe them. In speaking with Comcast Regional Corporate Office Escalations they claim they sent out a statement in April 2009, and that no other media or form of information was sent to me thereafter to notify me of the balance. I never received this statement that they claim they sent.

What I would like to know is if I have a case here. Certainly, there must be laws, either Federal or State that protect consumers like me against any bogus claim after a certain amount of time, their inability to provide sufficient notice to me within a reasonable about of time, or collect debt BEFORE sending it to a collection agency. The bottom line is that there was a 2 year gap of no communication from them-I was completely unaware of this bill and they expect me to pay this bill. I would like to take legal action. Before I do that, I wanted to get professional advice first on whether I have a case or not. I feel rather helpless as a consumer being taken advantage of by a big corporation, whom won't do anything about it and just expects for me to pay a two year old claim. Surely, companies can not go around demanding or claiming amounts of money from consumers, especially after 2 years, and nonetheless expecting payment.

Please let me know, or contact me if you would like more details about this. I hope you can point me in the right direction.

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Aug 31, 2011
Being Asked to Pay a Cable Bill I Don't Think I Owe

Lorna: The first thing you should do is ask the debt collection agency for written verification of the debt it says you owe. You should do this in writing right away and indicate in your letter that you do not believe you owe the debt. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, gives you the right to ask for this verification and the debt collector is legally obligated to respond. However, and here is the problem in your case, the debt collector has that obligation ONLY if you request written verification within 30 days of being contacted about the debt for the first time, and based on what you tell me in your question, the debt collector first contacted you back in April of this year, which is far longer than 30 days ago. Even so, I would still ask for the verification. I would also contact your bank to get a copy of the check you wrote to Comcast when you closed out your cable account two years ago. You may need that documentation to resolve your problem.

When you spoke with Comcast did you find out to what address the company sent the bill that is at issue back in 2009? Given that you moved and closed your account with that company, is it possible that the Comcast bill was sent to your old address, which is why you never received it? Regardless, if you owe Comcast money you are obligated to pay it. It does not matter that you are just now finding out about the debt. The key is determining whether or not the debt the collector is trying to collect from you is yours or not.

I also recommend that you educate yourself about the laws that protect consumers when they are dealing with debt collectors. As I indicated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is one of those laws and because you live in California, you are also protected by your state's Rosenthal Act. To begin your education you can read the first chapter of Debt Collection Answers online for free. And, you can also purchase the California edition of that book at get our ebook Debt Collection Answers.

If you are unable to resolve your problem on your own or if you want additional help, I recommend that you contact a consumer law attorney in your area with experience helping consumers resolve debt collection problems. One option is Robert Brennan, who practices law in the Los Angeles area. You can call his office at 888-453-6665 for a free case evaluation and you can learn more about him by going to

Best of luck.

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