Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Times must be REALLY tough in Ohio!

I have a rant. It is not going to be an ugly rant. It is going to be a justified rant. I'm mad and I feel helpless to fight this.

Let me explain.

Years ago, I got divorced while living in Ohio. It wasn't a good time in my life. A lot of bills, a great deal of heartache, a big struggle to put my life back in order. It took a few years, but I did just that. I prided myself on paying every bill, even if it meant paying $10 a month to get each one of them paid off. I worked long hours, sacrificed, and never once thought about filing for bankruptcy. I'm not tooting my own horn, just giving you some background to set the stage for the context of this post. Since that time, I have worked very hard to establish a good credit rating; checking my credit report annually for anything that I might have missed, erroneous entries, etc. The report has been fine, nothing on it negative, no past due accounts. All was well, until a letter arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. A letter from the Ohio Attorney Generals Office Revenue Recovery Service. It was a collection letter. It gave general payment information in the body of the letter, then on a second page revealed that the creditor: XXXXX County Clerk of Courts was owed $63.00 plus $0.06 interest plus $7.00 in fees for a total due of $70.06. I had no idea what the charge was for. Honest to God, here is what came next (personal info changed for privacy reasons of course):

CASE ID: 12345
FIRST BILLED: 09/24/2005
LAST BILLED: 08/18/1994
PAID: 0.00

They must have been digging for weeks in the file room to pull this one out!

Now I don't know about you, but I don't keep payment records longer than the required seven years. If I had paid this bill, ( I'm not saying that I did or didn't - who can remember 15 years back?) I wouldn't even have a RECORD OF PAYMENT for something that long ago! So, I followed the only recourse that was provided me; I called them today. After what was a torturously long recorded maze of pressing buttons on the phone (press 1 for yes, 2 for no, 3 if you're an imbecile, 4 to hear paint drying, etc.); a computerized voice read back to me each of my numerical entries as if I were mentally challenged. I'm not sure how, but I finally reached a live person. At least I think she was alive. Her dispassionate response to my questions and deadpan emotionless replies, made me wonder if she were some new computerized robotic answering machine. After I gave her the name of my first cousin one generation removed, my address, my mothers maiden name and if I liked blueberry pancakes, she informed me that the $70.06 was court costs for my divorce. "But", I stammered, "that's over 15 years ago! My attorney was suppose to have taken care of all of that for me!" She didn't even miss a beat, "Our records indicate that it was never paid." I asked her if she could send me a copy of the original bill. Apparently, the letter I received Saturday is all they can provide me. I decided at that point to throw myself off the cliff and told her I'd call her back after I checked my records from 15 years ago! (the ones I don't have). Can anyone tell me why it took them fifteen years to bill me? I wasn't hiding. I lived there for FOUR years after the divorce! If I owed the money, why wasn't it on my credit report? Seriously, the current economic crisis must have the state scurrying around in the basement filing cabinets looking for anything they can pass off as collectible. Oh, let's bill this schmuck for something that went down fifteen freaking years ago... they probably can't prove it was paid!

I did try to reach the attorney that handled the case for me. He's dead. (God bless you Richard M. You were a kind and understanding soul!)

So, now what? You guessed it.

I'm going to pay it.


  1. All I can say is BUMMER!! You just have to realize that this is one of those frustrating circumstances where you are totally helpless & you'll create more negative energy that will harm yourself than to just give in & pay the stupid charge. Just be thankful it's not $500. or $2000. or... Sometimes justice does not prevail.

  2. Can anyone tell me why it took them fifteen years to bill me?

    Alison. Girl! They were VERY busy digging up political dirt on Joe the Plumber. Now that that's over with, it's back to the backlog.

    OK... tongue-in-cheek time is over. I agree with Sharon: be glad it's only 70 bucks. Peace of mind doesn't often come that cheap. It IS a horrible, horrible story, though.

  3. My guess is that someone in the upper echelons of the county government told their minions to scour the records for any possible untapped source of income. A sign of the times in our wonderful new economy, I suppose. If I found myself in your shoes, I'd probably pay it too. At least it's a small sum.

  4. I am glad that it's only a small amount too! What would I have done if it had been a larger amount? I'm still worried that this may happen... what's to say they won't come up with something else?

  5. They're scatching and scraping...

  6. Hmm, I'm not sure if I would pay it, but that is just me.

  7. Wow, That is just plain old CRAZY!
    and scary at the same time. Isn't there a statued of limitations on old bills? I have no idea on this one.
    Hope I don't have anything in my past to haunt me later in life.

  8. Hmm.. Im so glad its only 70.00.. but really.. if you didnt pay it.. they would have to take you to court... and the burden would lie upon them to PROVE if you owed it or not. And you wrote they didn't have the proof?

    I personally would write them a letter to the higher up and demand the documents proving that you owe it. and see what they did! Just to make them work a little more for the money I would most likely pay in the end.