Scam or ripoff, you still don't have to pay

In my view, there is a difference between a scam and a ripoff. It does not set well to say that the difference is one is criminal and the other is legal.

To think of ripoffs being lawful is shameful to businesses across the country that honor the individual rights of citizens.

Maybe we should second- guess the first sentence and look into this more carefully. Instead of a statement, let's ask the question, Is there a difference between a scam and a ripoff?

Here is the story behind this concern. Giving you the case will help you decide if the difference is between a criminal intent and poor business ethics.

A letter is sent to the Milano Post Office for delivery to Barbara Gilliland. Inside the envelope, the content is a notice from the Island National Group LLC.

This company is a collection agency and its client is Sunrise Capital Management Inc., which incidentally is another collection company.

This, on the surface, is strange. Why would a company that collects debts hire another collection agency?

The Sunrise Capital Management, Inc. was called and Nicole answered.

Background noise sounded more like a residence than a business. Nicole said it was indeed the Sunrise Capital Management, Inc. company.

But she never explained why the second collection agency was hired.

The original creditor, HSBC Card Services MC/Visa, claims an account opened Oct. 23, 2006, has a charge of $142.70.

The notice also includes the HSBC card account number, an access code, and the first four digits of a social security number.

The last five digits of the social security number are crossed out. It is common to have business employees ask you for the last four digits of your social security number.

Giving the first four digits does not identify an individual.

The collection letter has three ways listed to satisfy this debt. Since this debt is going on three years, the company offers to settle the debt by paying half.

That's right. Only 50 percent of the $142.70 is needed to satisfy the debt. This amount is to be paid in two monthly payments of $35.67. Is this a good deal or what?

Those unable to pay this debt off with the first opportunity can settle the debt at the settled amount of $99.89 in lower payments of $24.97.

Or, in plan three, you pay the debt out monthly $10 until all $142 is paid.

What would you do? Jumping at the chance to pay half of your debt, does seem like the best action to take.

It's worth your consideration, if you owed the debt. If it is not a debt you owe, then the burden of proof rests with the company.

Here are some other facts you need to know. The letter had the right address and the name was correct except for the middle initial.

The Milano Gilliland died years before 2006 and the Milano resident who received the letter has never owned an HSBC card, nor do they plan to get one.

Both the Island National Group and the Sunrise Capital Management companies are located in New York.

The notice was mailed from Thurmont, Maryland.

This could be a simple mistake on the part of these collection companies. If these companies could explain how the mistake happened, we would understand this action taken by the credit card company.

The history of customer mistreatment is found in several "ripoff" reports.

To find these google in Island National Group LLC. Then read the links it brings up until you find the ripoff report.

Click on it and read about cases similar to the Milano letter.

Rule of Thumb: If you owe the money, pay it. If you don't owe the money, don't send it.

One victim suggested a class action suit. He feels that it will take some extreme action to stop this fraud.

Whether this is a scam or not, it does not change the outcome. It is the wrong name.

Middle initials are important and they do differentiate one from another.

So, destroy the document and move on. Companies should be responsible enough to send only accurate information or risk losing postage.

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2009-06-25 digital edition

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