Old debt – Need help

Hi, I have a question.

About 8 years ago I had fallen behind on a store credit card from a major retailer. I would get call at home asking me to make payments, which I did. My payments were slow, but I was trying to settle this debt. One Saturday a credit rep from this company who I had worked with before, (he had set up a payment plan previously)called me at home called me and told me that the company was about to take legal action on my account. My balance was about 3500.00 at the time and the account had no line of credit. I had told him that I could continue to make my payments, and offered to pay 1 minth in advance so my payments would not be late.

He offered me a settlement/pay off arrangement. I was told that if I paid something likr 1978.65(not the exact amount)the company would write off the balance, because what I was payming at that time was interest and fees on the accont. He really pushed this as my last option to avoid paying court cost, attorneys fees, ect that would basically triple my debt. He gave me a window of two days to send my payment. I paniced and scraped the money together and made the payment. The next month I received a bill but did not look at it (my mistake) because I had at that point three accounts that were paid in full that I continued to receive a monthly statement for.

Well 4 months later this company called and told me that my account was seriously past due. I told the lady that the account had beed settled and she said she was unaware of that but she would research the claim. Three months after that, I got another call from a different lady who was askin for a payment. I explained the situation to her, and she informed me that the account had been researched and no settlement offer was ever made. She did see my payment, which she stated was odd, because I always paid in $10.00 increments, my apyment was always received in the latter part of the month and this was within the first week of the month. We talked for almost an hour, with me insisting that I had accepted a settlement offer and her stating that I still owed a debt.

She took my number and called me back a few hours later. She stated that the individual who called me to make the settlement offer was no longer employed with the company because of some of the tactics he used to make collections. She state that she believed that I had acted in good faith but that no valid offer had existed. She informed me that a true settlement offer involved the debtor signing some form of agreement prior to remitting payment. She stated that although she empathised with me, I was still legally responsible for this debt. She then set up another payment plan which I refused to accept, but I told her to send the next bill.

I consulted an attorney, who advised me to make the next payment and that he would look into the case. (mistake #2) Yup, the attorney did nothing, dispite the advertised free consultation and analysis. When I called back, after I made the payment he advised me to seek help from the local law school clinic. I wrote to my credit bureau, but never saw anything in the report. I made some payments, but then I stopped receiving bills. Next thing I knew, my account had been sold to a collection agency. They were demanding a payment of 2500 or two payments totaling 3000, or they would take me to court.

I argued with them about the validity of the debt, only to hear nothing else until 4 months later when another collection agency called me. According to my credit report this debt will stay on my account another 2 years, and there have been atleast 6 collection agencies who have contacted me over the years. Is there anything I can do at this point. I see where I made each mistake so now I need to know how to go from this point on. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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