Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Verizon-Afni Collections Grave Robbing Scam

It's nearly Halloween time, but a billing scam operation is already putting an early scare on the season with their own creepy tale of grave robbing abuse. A collections agency located in Illinois, Afni Collections which claims a 70 year history in the debt shakedown business is getting more negative publicity by sending out bogus Verizon bills in the name of deceased persons, maybe by culling through obituary ads to add new pain to grieving families.

Our family was a victim of this Afni scam this week, when a bogus Verizon bill from Afni was sent to our home asking for $1,852.86 for a Verizon bill my deceased father never owed to begin with. My deceased father was never a customer of Verizon or Verizon Wireless according to their records. And according to Verizon records by father was never a customer, never had an account, and Verizon never authorized Afni to send out any demand for cash letter in the name of my father. Afni took it on themself to make up the request for money, claiming that we could agree to a "settlement offer" of $926.43 and that the "good folks" at Afni would consider that "once paid, this account will be closed and you will no longer have to worry about this obligation". And our family is not the only victims of the Afni bogus Verizon billing scam.

According to one posted complaint to a consumer website, one person would have been just eight years old when Afni claimed that they ran up a Verizon bill. Many of the persons targeted by Afni, have never had accounts with Verizon. And some persons who do have current accounts with Verizon, found out that their accounts are current, and Afni was never authorized by Verizon to seek payment for bills sometimes as much as $3,000 that the current account holders do not owe.

Interestingly, Afni avoids legal problems by a status as a dues paying member of the Better Business Bureau. And despite well over 800 consumer complaints against Afni in the last 36 months to the BBB, the BBB somehow has the nerve to claim that Afni has a "satisfactory record". The BBB is a business organization, and not a consumer organization, however for the BBB to give Afni a "satisfactory record" in light of numerous consumer complaints, some citing clearly unethical or even criminal conduct on the part of Afni highlights what a big business farce the BBB has become. In Oregon, the Oregon Consumer League's former President, Lee Lacy, has cited evidence of the BBB standing in the way of consumer justice in some cases involving clear fraud by a business.

Under George Bush, federal consumer protection has grown very lax. Corporate officers were appointed by Bush to head agencies and weaken consumer protection. White collar crime of all types has flourished under George Bush; subprime home loan scams, payday loan scams, phone sales scams, Email scams, website scams and bogus billing scams. The growth of white collar crime under Bush has unfortunately become his greatest achievement so far. The unauthorized bogus Verozon bills sent out by Afni are just another symptom of how much Bush has hurt the American consumer.

9 Comments:

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Here is the letter I just sent to AFNI, and now I wonder if I even needed to do this ... since it does appear they are just scamming people. Maybe there's already a class action lawsuit going somewhere??
------------------
AFNI, Inc.
404 Brock Drive
Bloomington, IL 61702-3517

To Whom it May Concern:

I received a notice that you are collecting a payment for Verizon New England, Inc. that I supposedly did not pay.

AFNI # [snip]

I must inform you that I terminated my service with Verizon ten years ago, and have records to prove that I paid off my entire bill at that time. I did not part on good terms with Verizon, for I made four appointments for a repairman to come out and fix my line and they did not show up for any of the four appointments. I had to use my vacation time at work to take these days off. I expressed to Verizon my displeasure with their service, and told them why I was no longer interested in being a customer of theirs. But I did pay off my entire bill.

If you claim otherwise, you will have to send me documentation that shows I didn't make these payments. This will have to include recordings made of all phone conversation I had with Verizon from 1990 through 1997, which in themselves will prove that my account was closed and paid in full.

Like I said before, this was ten years ago, so it makes me wonder why you are trying to collect now, when Verizon sent me nothing in the past ten years. If this is a scam, I will take this to the Attorney General's office here in Boston (a copy of this letter is being mailed to them, as well as to my lawyer).

Sincerely,
[snip]
cc: The Office of the Attorney General, Boston, MA
cc: [snip], Esquire

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Shlomo Angel said...

Just a few words for now; yesterday a very rude idiot from Afni called my 85 year old mother claiming she owed thousands for a Verizon bill from my Boston phone. I just spoke with them and they denied even having her phone number or address in their data base. I will track this BS and made the responsible parties pay for their incompetence and grossly unprofessional behavior

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Oh gosh -- I should have updated my comment. I've been talking with a bunch of people on the message board for the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) and they provided me with very helpful information on how to fight AFNI. In the end, I just called Verizon directly and, believe it or not, they called AFNI for me and had the false bills dismissed. Call Verizon in the Boston area. Also, here is the conversation on UCAN --

http://www.ucan.org/forums/telecommunications/landline_phone

and then click on the conversation, "Verizon sending 10 year old charges to collection agencies."

Good luck, you'll need it -- I had at least three phone conversations that involved screaming with AFNI staffers (if you can call them that). As it turned out, I shouldn't have even called them at all, according to what some people told me.

 
At 12:36 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

I got a collection letter from AFNI earlier this year for a Verizon bill that I had already paid. I sent AFNI proof that the bill had been paid. Now, several months later, I get another collection letter from Allied for the same non-existent outstanding balance. When I call Verizon, they say I have a zero balance, but when I talk to financial services at Verizon. They say I have an unpaid balance that they can do nothing about because they've turned it over to collections. The collection agency says its still shows because Verizon hasn't cleared it. I am so angry. This is how they treat people who pay their bills in a responsible manner.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Vic said...

Afni is a collection division for Verizon. Afni does make valid collection attempts. If they are showing a bill it is valid. But due to the fact it (the balance) is so old and long ago sent to a collection agency; the current Verizon help (employees) do not care or are not mentally capable of locating the account. Your denial doesn't make the balance invalid and don't think for one moment that they care about you or your dead relatives !

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger VZW_CS said...

Hi! Verizon Wireless utilizes several collection agencies services (including Afni) to collect unpaid balances on written off accounts.

Our customer service representatives do not have access to written off accounts.

For assistance with any written off account issues please contact our National Recovery Operations at 800-852-1922 from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

AntonioC_VZWSupport
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vzwsupport

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Jack said...

The look out for a good debt recovery company should be expert in the domain.The commercial and dues of a company are inter-related and collection agency with low experience should be avoided.

 
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