There are ways to fight debt you didn’t accrue

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityAnswer: First, let me thank you for your service in Iraq. One thing we should probably clear up: Are you sure no one else was using your phone while you were deployed? For purposes of this answer, we are going to assume that either the cell company billing is wrong or someone else has used your phone without your permission. If the cell company made a mistake, I first suggest that you call the company and dispute the bill. Rather than communicate with the debt collector, you should write or call your cell company and move up the chain of command until you get someone who has the authority to straighten out the mess that has been made of your account. Follow up in writing via mail with a return receipt requested. I spoke to two cell carriers and they both seemed more than willing to help a soldier who was one of their customers. If the cell company has sold the debt outright, then dispute the bill in writing with the collector. They will have to stop collection activity until you are sent proof that the debt is actually yours. If you see phone numbers on the bill that you don’t recognize, then you should ask that they be removed. Make sure to keep good records of who you write and speak with and request any concessions, actions, etc., be put in writing and sent to you. If the collector refuses your request, I suggest that you call and insist on speaking to a manager and be prepared to show that you were in Iraq from such-and-such date until such-and-such date. Your orders should cover that. Many cell phone carriers don’t offer service in Iraq, so it may be worth checking to see if yours may be one of them. Make sure to send any letters certified mail, request a signature card, and keep a log of your calls. If it appears as if the calls on your bills originated in Iraq, then it may be that your phone was used without your permission. I asked retired Lt. Col. Luis Beattie, a counselor at Money Management International, what to do in that case and he suggests that you go to your orderly room and speak to the first sergeant. Ask for legal assistance to deal with the collector and also ask to file a report of theft with the military police, who will look into the matter. If someone else had access to your phone while you are out on operations, their identity might be discernable by finding out who received the calls. Army Family Services may be able to help out if you need some additional assistance. For my other military readers and their families, here are a few other facts about the protection afforded to service personnel overseas: For debt collection, you have special rights under the service members Civil Relief Act. Among your rights under the act are: a creditor cannot change the terms of an existing credit agreement; cannot charge you more than 6 percent interest on outstanding accounts; you have the right to a postponement of any court summons for a debt of at least 90 days or until you return to the U.S.; as well as many more. For more information, there is a good section on the service members Civil Relief Act Web site. God bless you and the USA. Steve Bucci is president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation. Visit for additional debt advice. If you have a question for Steve, e-mail [email protected] The Debt Adviser is a weekly feature of local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Steve Bucci BANKRATE.COM Question: I have a debt of about $4,000 from a cell phone company that said I was using my minutes and phone while I was in Iraq. I am still in Iraq and won’t be home until some time this month. The debt is in a collector’s hands. I talked to them while I was home on leave, and all it did was give me a headache. Is there anything else I can do to prove I’ve been over here during the slotted time? Thanks for your advice. – RAYMON last_img read more