Verizon Sold 1,000,000 Old Accounts To AFNI, Who Then Fraudulently Tried To Collect Debts

A reader whose wife received a debt-collection notice from AFNI regarding a seven-year old Verizon account was actually just one of over a million consumers getting a similar letter, WSYR reports.

Apparently, Verizon sold over 1,000,000 accounts to Anderson Financial Network, Inc, who promptly began churning out debt collection notices to the customers. In many cases, there supposed debt was never incurred in the first place or had long since been paid

If you got one of these letters, try the tactics used by one poster on the RipOffReport board. Jean sent a letter by certified mail with a return receipt disputing the debt and asking for verification. Shortly afterwards AFNI responded that they had closed the account and would not try to collect further.

PREVIOUSLY: Debt Collector Trying To Collect 7 Year Old Debt
RELATED: Make Debt Collectors Prove They Own What They Say You Owe

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  1. gorckat says:

    My wife got one too. I had no idea it was widespread.

    She called Verizon, they confirmed it closed and paid and afni sent a letter confirming that once she disputed it with them.

  2. forever_knight says:

    damn, their logo is right on! “CREATING SOLUTIONS” for problems that may not exist and “DELIVERING RESULTS”.

    at first glance, i thought it was cheating solutions.

  3. ScoobyLover says:

    So they can just put the screws to customers who then have to jump through hoops to prove they are innocent? And what happens if you know you’ve paid, and just ignore it? Do they ding your credit and put you into collections?

    Verizon has GOT to be held accountable for their actions, no???!!???

  4. gruffydd says:

    What about AFNI’s tagline…”Helping the nation’s leading companies connect with their customers”

    I received something from them last October regarding Verizon. I know I had closed out my accounts before moving into a new house, but didn’t have the time, energy, or supporting data available (packed in a box) to fight it….so I just paid the $90 and let it go.

  5. timmus says:

    Creating solutions, delivering results? That got 5.0 on the Wankometer.

  6. Crazytree says:

    Don’t know what’s more annoying to me…

    aggressive debt collection techniques…

    or people who don’t pay their bills.

    That being said, I take pleasure in terrifying debt collection agencies who are not FDCPA compliant…

    but the deadbeats who don’t pay their bills are indirectly passing on the costs for their free service to those who do pay their bills regularly.

    Cue the “I WAS IN COLLEGE AN I MADE A YOUTHFUL MISTAKE AND MOVED AWAY AND DIDN’T PAY MY CELLPHONE BILL.”

  7. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Crazytree:

    When I left Japan, I didn’t pay the last month of my cell phone contract. I went to an AU store and tried to, but they weren’t set up to accept payments there (wtf, they can sell new accounts but can’t take payments on old ones?).

    I was like “fuck it, I tried.” I guess I still owe AU about a hundred bucks.

  8. BobTheBoozer says:

    I got one of these letters too, and sent my dispute letter early last week.

  9. ju-ju-eyeball says:

    Isn’t there a statute of limitations on how long a company can attempt to collect a debt?

  10. Xabora says:

    7 years, but I’m not 100% sure. :/

  11. North Antara says:

    @forever_knight: I had to re-read it 5+ times. I *knew* it didn’t say “cheating”, but I couldn’t convince my eyes of that.

  12. Buran says:

    @ju-ju-eyeball: Yes, there is.

  13. Trauma_Hound says:

    Depends on the state, here in Washington State it’s 6 years at most.

  14. edrebber says:

    The folks receiving these letters should file a mail fraud complaint. It’s against the law to collect money under false pretenses via the mail.

    [www.usps.com]

  15. Woofer00 says:

    @edrebber: It’s not mail fraud or false pretenses. Debts can be bought and sold just like any other commodity.

  16. AlexG32 says:

    @Woofer00: It’s mail fraud because the debts aren’t real. The company is trying to collect money that they aren’t owed.

  17. Dervish says:

    Is this just a recent occurrance? Because this exact thing happened to me around two years ago for a Verizon account I had closed. Perhaps stupidly, I paid it with minimal info in hand because I was worried about a black mark on my credit report.

  18. trillium says:

    Not only can it be considered mail fraud in some cases, it can also be illegal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

    In other words..

    Been there, done that! Hubby got a letter in Jan 2007 about an account that wasn’t recognized was trying to be collected in full – the account was over 10 yrs old. We’ve moved twice since then (and have had Verizon service to go along with it) and never ONCE did Verizon attempt to follow up on the supposed debt OR mention anything when proof of moving had been provided to Verizon.

    We called Verizon and they could not offer ANYTHING regarding the account since it was “sold off”. Called AFNI and they couldn’t provide anything either so wrote a nice little letter to the following effects:

    RE: Acct# XXXXXXXXXXXX

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I dispute your claims in their entirety and request validation pursuant to the FDCPA.

    Be advised that I am not requesting a “verification” that you have my mailing address, I am requesting a validation, that is, competent evidence that I have some contractual obligation to pay you. Also, please provide the original creditor’s name, address, and date of last activity.

    This letter shall also serve as notice that I am only to be contacted about this, or any other matter, in writing. Do not call me.

    A copy of your correspondence is included.

    Sincerely,

    TYPE NAME (DO NOT SIGN)

    Key to this – DONT SIGN it no matter how tempting. Debt Collector scum will go to any length to get any type of signature in order to not only elicit but also initiate any way shape or form of collection possible.

    AFNI responded with the following (paraphrased) when they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on:

    We wont contact you anymore about the debt

    End of story… I am just amazed that it is THIS wide spread!

  19. Mary says:

    We actually received one of those letters here at work. I called them up and said that we had paid that account, but that the amounts didn’t match.

    They checked their computer and instantly got the amount we did owe (and from my accounting it was accurate) and it was taken care of.

    I called because I noticed a sentence in the letter saying that if we DIDN’T contact them within so many days they would consider the debt valid. Obviously it wasn’t, and I didn’t want my boss to have to pay money he’d already paid.

    That to me seems dishonest. If a debt is invalid, it’s invalid. What if the letter had gotten lost in the mail? What if it hadn’t been opened on time for one reason or another?

    Ridiculousness. I’m glad our issue was resolved quickly though.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I used to work for AFNI (headquartered in Bloomington, IL) and they are notorious for their unfair collection practices. They pursue consumers by any means necessary. The collection reps are told to try to get the money any way they can, and they give bonuses to the biggest collectors. They have gotten in trouble before for attempting to collect debts that no longer exist. Once confronted about the fraudulent practices, they are more than happy to no longer contact you.

  21. kimberlilly says:

    I received a letter today to collect $132.82 for an unpaid Verizon bill. I have never had a Verizon account. Is anyone going to do a class action suit? @gorckat:

  22. kimberlilly says:

    Can a class action suit be filed? I recieved a letter today from AFNI, about an unpaid Verizon bill. I have never had a Verizon account,and the letter is in my maiden name which I haven’t used in over 10 years. This is ridiculous.

  23. My husband got a bill from over 10 years ago, we are still receiving them. He roomed with a couple guys in VA, and when he left, he had the phone account transferred over to one of the roommates. Now we have a bill for $650+. It is out of the statute of limitations, yet we receive a letter about every month. This debt has never affected his credit score, and we’d like the letters to stop. It’s just ridiculous now, they are clearly out of the statute of limitations and we aren’t liable for this debt, regardless even if he said it was his. I’m considering writing a lovely letter to this sh*t company about their practices, any suggestions haha??

  24. Tardis17 says:

    This is no Joke.

    A company called AFNI, Inc. P.O. Box 3472 in Bloomington, Il. 61702 is a third party collections company.
    They buy old worthless, incorrect and often out of statute of limitations debt portfolios.

    Recently, ANFI, Inc. sent out a second notice collection bill on an old phone account through Verizon California Inc. they said I owed from 2001. Note I never received a first notice.
    They offered to settle for half of what they said I owed, about $45.00.
    Dumbfounded I knew I never had any account of any kind with Verizon, so I called Verizon Cal. Inc. and spoke to Eric in Feb.2008. He looked in his data base for my name, SS# and the phone number. He said there was nothing about me in any of their files. He also said the phone number wasn’t even a Verizon number.
    So I did a phone number search at my own expense and found out what I already knew, it was not mine.

    I checked my credit reports and found in violation of the Fair Debt Reporting Act they also placed this bill on my consumer’s credit reports without ever notifying me, and re-aged it from 2001 to 2007, which is also against the law.
    If you receive one of these bills from AFNI, Inc. and you know that you had never had Verizon; or if it is a bill you never heard of before, check your credit reports right away.

    I checked other web sites and found out a lot about AFNI, Inc. scamming people, not just a few but hundreds, thousands across the USA.

    I then disputed the bill by Certified letters. Also, I filed with my state’s Attorney General and the IL. A.G., the FTC, and the BBB and every web site I can to get the word out on these scum.
    The IL. BBB says that AFNI, INC. says it is my bill from 2001, but they have not validated it yet. Even if it were mine, it is out of SOL in California, over 4 years old. I am not sending them one red cent and will sue them if they continue to report this on my CR or sell this worthless paper to another debt agency.

    I have heard to NEVER, NEVER call AFNI, Inc., as they will capture your phone number and start calling and harassing you; AND NEVER give them your Information as they will use anything against you.

    For More Information on the AFNI, Inc. scam check BudHibbs.com or simply type in consumer complaints AFNI, Inc. into your search the web box. There are hundreds of complaints against these scam artists.

    Only by banding together and filing reports against AFNI, Inc. can consumers shut these guys down.

    Best of luck everyone,

  25. Jude333 says:

    We all run around like “chickens with our heads cut off” (as the old saying goes), picking up the pieces of our lives and shattered credit reports, because of the thugs that buy millions of portfolios for pennies on the dollar from “original creditors” (OC), after the OCs wrote them off their books! Wouldn’t making it illegal to sell bad debts nip this travesty in the bud? How desperate are these OCs to make a few pennies on the dollar? (No where in my contracts with OCs do I recall agreeing to allow them to sell my accounts, if I defaulted, to thugs who harrass and attempt to collect by “any means”).

    I don’t know about “Verizon”, specifically, but two OCs, that eventually sold my old accounts, immediately raised my APR from 19 to 32% when I defaulted, added monthly “late fees”, and (then) “over the limit” fees. (This isn’t to mention the occasional lates fees through the life of the account, that OCs claimed were “in anticipation of the account going bad”, OR annual or monthly fees, OR the already-ridiculous APR through the life, OR, as someone said above, “passing the expense on to ‘good customers who pay their bills”. It seems the OCs are pre-covered (braced) for bad debts.

    BUT, using one of my two OCs as an example, my purchases amounted to $500 before I defaulted. By the time the account was “written off”, six months later, it was $1700 or more. Doesn’t that inflated “write-off” significantly compensate for the original $500 debt? Too, the OC only had their wholesale costs [say, $300] invested that they had to recover to “break even” (….better than “loss”). I suppose the question is “how much were their taxes reduced because they wrote-off $1700 for a debt they had $300 invested in?”

    Do these huge milli-million, multi-billion dollar corps & conglomerates REALLY need to sell the accounts to make a few pennies? [And do they know that people, who are just down on their luck (’cause life didn’t go as the planned or hoped) are being tortured, threatened, and harassed by, in so many cases, THUGS?

    It should be ILLEGAL to sell written-off accounts to third party collectors!!!