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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/sockwonder-you-wrote-im-having-trouble-19678178.aspx

Subject:  Re: I have a collection!!! Date:  10/7/2003  12:17 PM
Author:  joelcorley Number:  171174 of 308881

sockwonder,

You wrote, I'm having trouble believing that you don't know how authorized users work, especially since they've been covered extensively here on this board, but... Easy. If an authorized user makes a purchase with your credit card, you are responsible for paying for that purchase. The same goes for joint cardholders - even more so. Plain and simple. I have never heard of an exception to this rule. There IS no contract between her and the merchant. You're having a mental block. It has absolutely, positively NOTHING to do with who actually makes the purchase. It has EVERYTHING to do with whose account it is. The account is yours. She is an authorized user. That means you allow her to use your account. Whatever she buys, you and you alone are responsible for payment on. As for my reference to an attorney... yes, it is absolutely ridiculous to get an attorney over an $83 collection, but you're that's not where you're talking about stopping. You're talking about suing them. Right there is where I'm telling you to get an attorney. And unless you have six figures of reserves, and no job to attend every day, you're kidding yourself by thinking you have the resources to play plaintiff OR defendant against a company of almost any size.

Of course I understand how an authorized user works on an account. But you seem to be under the mistaken impression that something has been bought on account. It hasn't.

A contract is the only legal mechanism available to enforce an obligation between two private parties. (A public, government entity can create and enforce obligations through additional means as provided by law.) If a contract does not exist, neither does an enforceable obligation. Contracts do not have to be written; but without something in writing or something recorded, you will have a difficult time proving it in court and an almost impossible time proving it to a CRA.

There's no reason I need six figures of reserves. You seem to be intimidated by our legal system. It doesn't take a lot of money to sue someone. I can sue anyone in small claims court for about $80 and a day or two off of work. (Naturally, there are limitations placed on the jurisdiction and amount of award available in small claims court; but we should be well within those restrictions in this case.) I've sued people before. Large or small, they're all the same before a judge.

Besides, if I sue this collection agency and the provider, all I risk is loss of my time, the $83 and court costs. Whether they win or loose, they'll be out the cost of paying someone to represent them -- always true of corporations; but not individuals. Plus, if I win I could claim statutory damages of around $1,000 for using unfair collection practices (FDCPA) and lying on my credit report (FCRA).

Personally, I think that if the collection agency doesn't back down, suing them is a pretty safe, low-cost and effective option. And I just don't see why I should fear using it. I wonder why you do.

- Joel
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