Verizon Unleashes Zombie Debt Collector Scourge On Innocent Consumer

Reader Kevin has a problem with Verizon and the zombie debt collectors they’ve unleashed on the account Verizon said was paid off and closed…

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve been a fan of consumerist.com for a while now. I consider myself a pretty well-informed consumer and never thought I would ever have to email y’all – that was until I got home from work today and opened the mail.

I received a notice from a collection agency about an old Verizon DSL account that I had. When I moved to my current apartment, I called Verizon to cancel my telephone and DSL service as the apartment already had cable and internet through Comcast and I had a cellphone and wasn’t planning on getting a new land-line.

A month after I moved, I received a bill from Verizon for DSL service but not telephone service. I called Verizon again and explained that I had closed my account and that I didn’t have the DSL service anymore. They issued credits for the incorrectly billed service and I thought I was done.

I then received yet another bill from Verizon the next month for DSL service. The funny thing about this bill was that it showed the credits for the incorrect bills on them from the previous month. I called again and thought it had been taken care of. I should have known better.

That Januray, I received a letter from a collection agency saying that I owed Verizon money. Being the pack-rat that I am (I keep anything that resembles a bill) I did some research and found all of my paperwork from when I had called Verizon. I called the collection agency (AFNI) and Verizon (again). I spoke to someone at AFNI and she said that all I had to do was fax in the copy of my Verizon bill showing the credit and that it would be taken care of. Again, I thought it had been taken care of. This happened on January 23, 2006 – I saved the fax confirmation page (I moved November 1, 2005).

Almost exactly a year later, on January 13, 2007, I received a letter from another debt collection agency (AMO Recoveries) about the same debt. I called them to (again) dispute the debt. I then called Verizon who said that they saw that the account had been resolved and then the guy who I spoke to (Brian was his name I think) said he was going to call the agency (AMO Recoveries) while I was on the phone.

This brings me to tonight and to the letter I received from the third collection agency (Penn Credit Corporation). It is for the same everything as the two previous credit agencies.

I have already called the collection agency (Penn Credit Corporation) and notified them that I was disputing the validity of the debt. I plan on sending a written dispute tomorrow via certified mail (return receipt requested). I also plan on calling Verizon again – not that it will do much good.

I was hoping that someone could offer some tips as to how to take my efforts with Verizon to the next level. Do you know where I could find an address or email address of someone I could write at Verizon’s corporate headquarters?

This whole situation has left me somewhat cynical about anything remotely related to Verizon and any affiliated companies. I had been talking with my roommate about switching from Comcast to Verizon for Internet (our building isn’t wired for FiOS). Now, I would rather deal with Comcast then have to endure dealing with Verizon again.

Any help/advice/assistance that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Kevin K.

Verizon gave rise to the first generation of zombies by selling a bunch of old accounts to AFNI. It looks like in your case, after AFNI failed to collect on your account, they sold it to AMO Recoveries, who sold it to Penn after also failing to collect. Debt collectors try to collect on the debts that they can, and the ones that aren’t worth their money to try, they to other debt collectors down the zombie food chain. Verizon doesn’t care about you anymore, you’re no longer their customer, and they have no control over the account they’ve sold. What’s worse, zombie franchises love sequels almost as much as human brains. But with your trusty fire (copy of your Verizon closed account verification information) and shotgun (boilerplate dispute notice), you should be able to hold them at bay until they die off from lack of sustenance.

Otherwise, the only thing we can think of is reporting them for mail fraud, since they’re asking you for money you don’t lawfully owe and thus their collection attempts are unlawful. (See: Unlawfully Billed? Threaten To Report Them For Mail Fraud)

(Photo: Zed & 2 Naughts)