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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I can't believe this... our government at work and failing badly.

I got a notice from a collections agency about a month ago.  It seems that in October of 1996, I received an over-payment of $214 on my child support, meaning that the State of Oregon had sent two checks a few days apart made out to me, each in the amount of $214.  The problem was that the state had only received $214 from the payer, not $428. The state made a mistake and sent that second check out.  That had happened numerous times in the past and the solution that the state did those times was to simply not send me (the payee) the next payment from the payer to cover their error.  So imagine my surprise 20 years later to discover that I owed the State of Oregon and the collections agency approximately $270.  I contact the collection agency immediately stating I was disputing the amount.  I tried to go on-line and research my account, but it was not in the system.  I then called the Child Support Office and once the lady I spoke to couldn’t find my information, I was forwarded to a voice mail.  I talked to a real person and was told essentially that they had sent me a letter (not certified, just by regular mail) in 2008 stating I owed $214 and that they were not required to contact me again.  She also said that I had been sent a postcard in March, April or May of 2016 (they weren’t sure) telling me the amount was going to collections.  I said that I didn’t remember getting anything in 2008, but I knew I hadn’t received a postcard this spring because I would have been in touch at that time.  I requested that I be sent information and my case files.  I filed a complaint with the Governor’s Advocacy Office and the State of Oregon but have not heard back from either of them.
A week or so ago I got a print out of payments received and made, with balances of what was billed out to the payer, what was received by the state and what had been paid to me (there was a difference of $18,000, so that’s what he passed away owing me).  There were two handwritten dates on the printout indicating the approximate dates they said they sent the letter and card.  There were no case notes or anything to indicate when my case was closed (the payer passed away 5 years ago), etc.  I sent a letter to the reconciliation manager asking why there was a difference in the amount the state received and that I received, when I could expect to receive a copy of my notes, why the state hadn’t simply kept the payment following the last overpayment error, etc.

I will say that he promptly called me concerning my letter.  He was very polite and I made sure to keep the edge out of my voice and not chew him out (he was probably only a few years old when the over-payment was made, it certainly wasn’t his fault).  It seems that my case is so old they have no idea when my case was closed (but it was closed, according to the state, at some time) and no records of the problems collecting child support, etc. They don’t know why they didn’t simply hold the next payment and their hands are tied in that the amount is now in collections.  So if I refuse to pay it, my credit will be affected and they will garnish my check.  What the heck?

It is frustrating and funny at the same time that the State of Oregon made no effort to collect the child support that was owed to me, as I struggled to raise two girls as a single parent.  When I received state assistance, the state kept a portion of whatever support was paid. When I remarried, I luckily had a spouse who was very willing to help support them, but I still kept in touch with the state asking for them to enforce the child support laws.  At one point a worker told me I should just allow them to close my case because the payer was struggling financially and it would help him.  I told her that I had been garnished for his bills that he never paid when we divorced, etc and I would not let him off the hook that easily.

So 20 years after an error on the part of the State of Oregon, I am being told that they had no responsibility to contact me regarding the amount they claim I owe, that they have no records of attempts to collect past-due support, written statements by me, the court hearing that I requested when he tried to get the amount owed reduced (I paid for a lawyer to represent my daughters and I) and that essentially, they are being held to a different standard and have more rights than I do.  I can’t tell you how stressed I am. Yes, it’s just a few hundred dollars.  But they failed to collect thousands of dollars in support owed to me.  They can’t even prove when they stopped trying to collect money from him, but they are going to make me pay, 20 years later, for their mistakes, now that our state is broke. 

I’m mad, disappointed, sad and wanting to scream.  I’ll be contacting some of our elected officials, asking for their help in solving this issue.  I shouldn’t have to pay this.  How many others is this happening to?  Why is our state and local government focused on giving hand-outs and enabling people, instead of educating and providing opportunities to them?  Why would they wait 20 years to collect such a small amount, instead of working on the actual amount owed in Child Support?

So I guess, even though it’s not in my budget, I’ll have to find the money to pay it as soon as possible, in order to protect my credit that I’ve worked so hard to build.  But trust me, I'm not going to shove it under the rug after it's paid. I'll make them work for it. The 

I try to stay as non-political as possible in my life, but things like this are why I have absolutely no confidence in our government. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Or want to donate to the cause?  Because I really don't need this right now.  

1 comment:

  1. Did you check the statute of limitations on that? Sometimes collection agencies fish around and snoop out things like that in hopes of getting something that they really have no right to. Contact the state's attorney general, not the politicians.

    Of politicians and government I have to say that the problem with government is politics. Politics is a game, it's only against the other side (doesn't matter which side) and all about getting elected. It's not about solving real problems or meeting the needs of the people. It's just a king-of-the-hill game and why this nation is quickly going down the tubes.