Comcast's Inept Collections Practice Is Putting My Mortgage Application At Risk

The home-buying process can be stressful enough without questionable debt from the past rearing its ugly head just as you’re applying for a mortgage. And if you deal with that debt right away, you don’t expect it to linger — and you certainly don’t expect the company you owed money to will suddenly lose all record of your account.

Consumerist reader Sam says that when he paid his final bill with Comcast and turned in all his equipment, he considered it the end of the story.

But then in May, he receives a collections notice for an agency representing Comcast, claiming he still owed $85.32 to the cable company.

“I check my credit report periodically and this has never appeared on my credit report,” writes Sam. “In the letter it states that if this collection is paid it will not appear on my credit report.” So he sent off a check to his local Comcast office right away. Shortly thereafter, Sam says the check was cashed by Comcast.

It looked like Sam had nipped the problem in the bud, as he was able to keep his credit report clean as he begins the mortgage application process.

But then yesterday, he received an alert that this credit report had been dinged by the collections agent for the exact amount he had already paid to Comcast to get rid of the debt.

Sam immediately called the collections agency.

“They said they would need me to have Comcast have a 3-way conversation with them and myself to inform them the payment had been received. I called Comcast customer service and they could not find any record of my account through Comcast.”

Sam tells Consumerist that the credit issue is now “causing serious problems with my home loan process… I spent three hours on the phone with three different customer service reps today, and nobody can find an account for me…but they had no problem cashing my check made out to Comcast. They said I would need to go to the local office, but I now live in a different state.”

We’re reaching out to Comcast on Sam’s behalf to see if someone can clear up this mess and repair his credit report.

Comments

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  1. mross2_ says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t most collection agencies require you to pay them directly? Should the payment have gone to the agency and not Comcast?

  2. howie_in_az says:

    Send them the normal “prove I owe this money” letter (which, btw, should have been done as soon as you received a notice from the collection agency). They will try to verify with Comcast, who should deny that you owe any money. If Comcast says you DO owe money, then you can get the torches and pitchforks and lawyers ready.

    • benminer says:

      What is this magical “proof” you speak of?

      Surely you do not mean the standard request for “validation”. Validation, as we all should know, != proof. The creditor is not required to “prove” the debt is valid up to a level which would hold up in Court (if it came to that). They are only required to validate which can be as simple as a statement from the original creditor.

      • howie_in_az says:

        Yes, I do mean a validation letter. Every time I’ve been contacted about a debt I’ve sent one off to the collection agency, and every time they’ve responded with an “our bad” letter. Since the collection agency represents Comcast, they will go back to Comcast and ask if the person owes this money. Comcast, at this point, should say no, in which case the whole thing disappears and the OP can go about his merry way.

        If Comcast DID say OP owed money, then it’d be time to get lawyers involved — especially since OP can demonstrate he owes no such money. If this went to court, OP could potentially get money from Comcast and the collection agency for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and probably for being dicks.

        • soj4life says:

          Bringing lawyer into this is a dick move. If the op can see that the check was stamped on the back and paid by comcast, their billing department can research the payment to see where it was credited to. Along with that, his mortgage company should not be holding up his application unless the op’s credit has problems.

        • Therulnig says:

          After fighting for over 3 years over a large debt that I do not owe a hospital that billed me..I can tell you it is NOT as easy as sending a letter and getting an “our bad” apology and calling it a day.

          Throwing the word “lawyer” around doesn’t help too much..I looked into it. Court fees and lawyer fees alone would make it financially stupid to further my issue through courts. The system is designed where the consumer has to go deep out of pocket and time to prove they don’t owe some imaginary debt that will otherwise haunt them for at least 7 years when they try to take out new financial endeavors.

  3. ecuador says:

    Ehm, collections are easy. You just send “I do not owe this, please validate”, and obviously they have no way to validate if Comcast can’t even find your account. No 3-way calls or 3-way anything, you just send a certified letter. If they ding your credit after failing to validate, you can get a bonus in court ;)

  4. frank64 says:

    The problem is the banks should be able to see that this would not be an issue in paying a mortgage and disregard it. They can’t though. This is all to common.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Banks can and do. It just takes work. Which is why I advise all of my clients with any sort of credit trouble to go to a traditional underwriter who can look at their situation now. We survived without credit agencies for a long, long time…

    • ZachPA says:

      Most underwriters will do one of three things in a situation like this: require the payment of said collection before or at closing, escrow said payment at closing until the matter can be settled, or accept documentation given by the applicant/debtor which demonstrates to the underwriter’s satisfaction that the debt was indeed settled.

      Most lenders will require most debts placed with collection accounts to be paid and/or settled before they will lend money on either a purchase money or refinance mortgage, especially if the lender will sell the note to another lender, and even more especially if the mortgage is being insured by the FHA/VA.

  5. scoosdad says:

    There’s not enough detail in the story to figure this out for sure, but was the collection agency asking the OP to send his check directly to Comcast (as he says he did), or had they bought the debt from Comcast outright and were looking to get the check sent directly to the collection agency? That may have been the problem. OP paid Comcast, but the collection agency is still looking for its money. Comcast gets a check they can’t figure out what to do with, shrugs, deposits check.

    • Milquetoast says:

      +1. Exactly what I was thinking.

    • soj4life says:

      Same thought. When your account is given to a collection agency, they need to be the ones paid. Along with that, why did he send his payment a service center for comcast and not the po box listed on his bill.

  6. kathygnome says:

    The problem with this is the same as with identity theft. It needs to be far easier to report and clean up credit errors and the burden has to be on the credit agencies and companies reporting you, not on the consumer.

  7. Lyn Torden says:

    No 3-way call is needed. Just do a “3-way” lawsuit in federal court. Lawyers get things fixed when they know they are going to lose.

  8. dicobalt says:

    Comcastic!

  9. Rockfish says:

    I predict this will now be cleared up post haste due to the glare of the media spotlight shining on Comcast … this seems to be Comcast’s modus operandi.