Capital One Admits It Wrongly Tried To Collect On Credit Card, Then Continues Trying To Collect Anyway

Earlier this year, a woman in Chicago won what she likely thought was a small victory. She and her lawyer were able to convince Capital One that she had never had a credit card from the bank, and thus does not owe the $1867.18 Cap One had sued her for. But rather than remedy the situation, the woman says Capital One just made it worse.

According to a lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in Illinois, the first time the woman heard about a Capital One credit card in her name was when the bank sued her for the outstanding cash in September 2011.

After some investigation, she found that the card had been issued to someone in her name, but with an address she hadn’t lived in since 2001.

“Plaintiff never authorized or requested Capital One Bank to issue her a credit card and did not authorize anyone else to obtain such a card for her,” reads the complaint.

Then in February 2012, Capital One lawyers reviewed all of her documents and agreed to drop the suit and alert the credit bureaus of the bank’s error.

“Instead,” claims the suit, “Capital One… changed the address on the account to plaintiff’s current address and sent the supposed account to [third-party collections agent].”

The collections folks then began attempting to get the money the plaintiff never owed in the first place, while Capital One sent her monthly statements for the account that was never hers.

By sending those statements, the plaintiff alleges that Cap One effectively violated the Truth In Lending Act by issuing her a credit card that she did not request. She also alleges invasion of privacy and violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

The plaintiff claims the debt collection agency violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by attempting to collect money that all evidence shows she never owed.

She is seeking damages of just about every sort (statutory, actual, compensatory, punitive), in addition to costs and legal fees.

Our favorite line from the complaint is a masterpiece of understatement:
“Plaintiff has been greatly annoyed and inconvenienced by the conduct complained of herein.”

[via Courthousenews.com]

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  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    “The plaintiff claims the debt collection agency violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by attempting to collect money that all evidence shows she never owed.”

    As they say, Truth is the ultimate defense. If the collection agency never knew that the debt was invalid, they can’t be held responsible. After all, if Capital One doesn’t have their act together, do you really expect the debt collector they sold the debt together to get all the information?

    • That guy. says:

      It also sounds like Cap One sent bills, which (from what I recall) if mailed across state lines, for a debit they know she does not owe, is a Federal offense.

    • humphrmi says:

      The debt collector doesn’t have to listen to only Capital One on the matter of debt validity. If you, or the alleged debtor, ask the collector to prove that you own the debt and they can’t – or even better, if you prove outright to them that you don’t own the debt (like, send them a copy of the letter where Capital One’s lawyer admits that you don’t) then the collector has a legal responsibility to stop collections, and if they don’t, they are just as liable as Capital One.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        I understand that, but it sounds like she’s going after the debt collector without showing that they continued after they knew the debt was bad.

        • ZachPA says:

          It doesn’t matter. You sue everyone who ever had or currently has anything to do with it and let the chips fall where they will. By spraying papers everywhere, the plaintiff puts everyone in the hot seat. A collection agency who is now a defendant actually winds up as an asset to the plaintiff because their legal team sends a nastygram to Capital One saying “See what you got us into? Fix your problem now, or you will have a suit from us to contend with also.” Insurance carriers aren’t the only companies who subrogate their liabilities when other parties are liable.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Please know your rights. You have the right to request proof of debt ownership from the 3rd party collectors within 30 days of the first attempt to collect. Debt collectors ARE in fact supposed to have proof that the debts are valid. That is part of what the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was made to promote.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        A debt collector will have what information what the original lender gave them. Most will not buy it unless there is enough to prove that the person owes the debt (at least the first round of debt collectors will).

        But if Capital One did not give them all the information, how is it their fault?

        • SpammersAreScum2 says:

          If the collector goes after someone despite lacking adequate proof that the person actually owes the debt in question, then, yeah, it is their fault.

        • Hoku says:

          Because it’s their job to make sure the debt is valid before trying to collect on it.

        • highfructosepornsyrup says:

          Seems to me that they shouldn’t even be trying to collect on a debt that they don’t have all the information for.

      • MarkFL says:

        “Please know your rights. You have the right to request proof of debt ownership from the 3rd party collectors within 30 days of the first attempt to collect.”

        I’m trying to work that line into the song by The Clash. It’s not working very well…

    • Oh_No84 says:

      Yes, but I am sure she sent the agency the proof the debt was not hers and they did not stop harassing her.

  2. Difdi says:

    When you get right down to it, what is the difference between a criminal scam and a company that sends bills to people who don’t owe it money?

  3. Press1forDialTone says:

    Well, this can happen with you change your name Joanne Q Public.

  4. who? says:

    Pay yer bills, and this sort of stuff doesn’t happen….

    Oh. right.

  5. UberGeek says:

    Since they agreed she didn’t owe the money and then sent bills anyway, would that constitute “mail fraud”? Just wonerin’.

  6. PragmaticGuy says:

    And I thought computers were supposed to eliminate these errors. Whoda thunk it wouldn’t happen.

    • Zmidponk says:

      The problem with computers is that they’re built by humans, use software programmed by humans, which use data inputted by humans. This is why I hate the phrase ‘computer error’. There is no such thing. Somewhere along the line, a human has screwed up, and it is this screw-up which has caused the error.

    • cspschofield says:

      To err is human. To screw up 100,000 times a second requires a computer.

  7. dush says:

    I’d like to know the specific person that made the decision to change the address and start billing her again.
    They should probably have their fingernails yanked out.

  8. Hellonez says:

    Capital one is strange & special creature. They once fraud locked my account, so I called them…..Wait for it…….wait for it…..

    Apparently I made three payments to my account in one month which caused all kinds of confusion. Yes my account was “fraud” locked for sending money in & not because my card was being used..you can just imagine how that conversation went.

    Strange strange special creature.