AT&T Says I Owe Big Money From A Bill Six Years Ago

Richard says AT&T tracked him down to tell him he had an unpaid bill of $1,671.98, but it doesn’t owe the phone company the money because it sold the debt to an outside agency. He fears getting dinged on his credit history for a bill he believes he doesn’t owe.

He writes:

From 2002 through 2004 I had a cell plan with Cingular. When I moved from California to Washington DC I closed the account through all the proper channels and believed I was free and in the clear. Now, its six years later and this past Saturday I went to get an iPhone and open a new AT&T wireless account. However, there was a hold on my social security number and was told to call AT&T customer service about the nature of an open account in my name. When I called, they said I had an outstanding base line bill in the amount of $1,671.98. This was news to me! In the past six years, I haven’t received any bills from Cingular/AT&T nor any from a collection agency. What’s really strange is that this bill doesn’t show on my credit report.

To add insult to injury, AT&T customer service couldn’t tell me where these charges were stemming from. I was told to call their third party collection agency, First Revenue Assurance to know the details of my bill.

I called First Revenue Assurance and they have no open accounts in my name, and was told to talk to AT&T about this issue. The second time I talked to AT&T they were able to deduce that this $1,671.98 outstanding bill was from roaming charges when I was in the DC area. However, I had closed the account before I moved.

Also through my second phone conversation with At& T, I was told that in 2005 AT&T sold my debt to a now defunct collections agency. This might explain why the bill never appeared on my credit report. AT&T does not know who bought my debt from that now defunct agency. AT&T stated that this matter is “out of their hands” and gave me a list of a dozen or so collection agencies that might own my debt.

How do I resolve this issue? I obviously don’t want this damaging my credit history. I find it ridiculous to pay interest on a six year old debt that I am just now hearing about. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

If you have advice for Richard, please leave it in the comments.