Today I mailed a check for 6814.91 dollars to CST Co. Inc on behalf of Raytheon. It hurts. A small amount of that was a legitimate bill, owed because of a payroll advance. But the remainder I feel was unjust. Months after Bob quit working for Raytheon, they discovered he had been paid too much vacation time. So we got a bill for 6814.91 dollars due immediately without explanation. We stalled, they declined to give details and sent the bill very promptly off to a debt collector, CST Co Inc. Months later, and lots of agony, the bill is paid and I never want any dealings with Raytheon in the future.
But it was an interesting learning experience. It turns out that many companies discover 6 months to a year later that an ex employee was paid too much vacation time. Or overpaid regular salary. Or something. And the ex employee’s are pretty much screwed. The bill is unexpected, large, and due immediately. The employee, as in our case, has no documentation showing if the claims are true or not. And cost of extracting the documentation is high because you need a lawyer. Finally it turns out most of the employers seeking back pay do use various debt collection agencies. They don’t screw around but after the first initial letter or two, it’s off to the collector. At least that was our experience with Raytheon.
So the second learning experience was how to deal with a debt collector. It’s a complicated process.
- The debt collector legally has to provide you with details on the alleged debt if you respond to their first request for payment within 30 days.
- The debt collector will try to get you to make agreements on the phone, but you have the legal right to get everything in writing. Do that, it gives you the opportunity to think about things and makes it easier for you to know what the agreements are.
- It is very important to read a lot about debt collection. Do a google search and read a lot of different web pages. The federal government provides lots of good tips on how to deal with debt collectors.
- There are lots of sample letters you can use as a starting point to request information about the debt, make them communicate only via mail, and to stop phoning you at home or work.
- You can negotiate with the debt collector to get a reduced settlement or a payment plan. Get everything in writing.
- The debt collectors may try to play ignorant and / or ignore your requests in writing. They want you to make agreements in a rush on the phone. Don’t give in to their ploys, insist on your terms.
- If you can’t cope with the process, you can give “power of attorney” for that specific matter to someone else you trust. So Bob gave me that power, I was less emotionally involved than him. But it took several written letters and one voice mail message to make CST Co Inc. accept the power of attorney.
- If you have access to a lawyer they can help you write the letters and negotiate settlements.
- The Debt Collectors have legions of attorney’s working for them. So they start upping the ante very fast by threatening lawsuits. But it is really expensive for them to go to court, so you probably have some time to negotiate despite the threats.
- 10. You can negotiate to have all records of this debt removed from your credit rating. Don’t pay them until you get this agreement in writing. But you probably won’t get this agreement if you negotiate a settlement to pay less.
So in the end am I angry at Raytheon – yes, I feel they cheated us out of thousands of dollars. Could I do anything about it – no, not much. And yes we paid. At least that episode in our life is almost over. We still need to get the receipt from CST. We still need to check the credit reports are good. And we still will have to deal with Raytheon over pensions and 401K’s. I am not looking forward to that.