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Debt collection nightmare begins with a cookie

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2016 | Consumer Protection

Seven in the morning is a little early for most of us to hear a knock on the front door. Rich Snapp didn’t know the person banging on his door on a Wednesday morning nearly a year ago, and the stranger certainly didn’t come bearing glad tidings. Instead, Snapp was informed that he was being sued over a debt that was not even his.

The rude awakening that morning launched a distressing 7-month misadventure that included the local Girl Scouts, a thief named “Pistol Pete,” a persistent debt collector and even the local police department.

It turns Snapp was a victim of fraud. Someone used an old checkbook belonging to him to buy $36 of Girl Scout cookies. The check bounced and a debt collector was hired. By the time the debt collection agency got to Snapp, they wanted payment of $455.89. That figure was arrived at by taking the original $36 and adding a variety of interest and collection fees to it.

Snapp’s odyssey began, apparently, when he packed to move. Rather carelessly, he had thrown away an old checkbook for a bank account that had been closed more than a year. He thought there was nothing that could be done with the checks, so he simply tossed them with other discarded stuff into a dumpster. He regrets now that he did not shred the checks.

A man named “Pistol Pete” apparently retrieved the thrown-away checks and forged one, giving it to another man. That second man was later arrested, telling police the “Pistol Pete” story.

At some point, “Pistol Pete” or someone else used one of the bad checks to buy $36 worth of Girl Scout cookies. When the check was discovered to be bad, the Girl Scouts brought in a debt collector.

Snapp recalls heated conversations with debt collectors and trips to the police department and city clerk he made in efforts to prove he was a victim of fraud. He ultimately prevailed, learning a few hard lessons about the hard world of debt collections along the way.

For victims of abusive debt collection efforts, a Philadelphia consumer protection attorney can help protect your rights and help you take legal action against the collection agency.

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