I work in a collection agency (whose name I don’t want to share) and they are working with different projects at the same time for collection purposes. There are certain things which are confusing and this is why I am asking this long question and seeking its answers who are in this field and know the details better than me.
There are projects like medical insurance collection, educational loans collection, retail accounts collection and one more which is confusing and this is what I am going to ask here. It’s about collection of money from Italian highway tickets which are moving cars violations and are camera captures. Now at first I am going to tell you what we tell people while collection, then I will ask the questions which are confusing:
1. These are moving violations which happened while you were in Italy on your trip. We send you letters to intimate you that there is a balance due under your name to be paid.
2. We seek their address verification and then we share supporting documents like ticket itself, the picture of backside of car indicating the number plate, time & date stamp on the picture, violation cause mentioned and in some cases we have the return receipts too.
3. Upon asking, that why Italian highway police didn’t stop us, we say that Italian police are not authorized to stop and pull you over as in USA. They just take picture and contacts the car rental agency to get the information of driver at that time and date and send them letters to deposit the amount, for which there is first 5 days to pay with 30% discount, then 60 days for normal amount, then 365 days for double amount and then they seek judgment on these files, to be placed in a collection agency based in USA so that these people can be tracked, with additional charges (processing fee, penalties, judgment fees etc.) on top of principal. However, if there is parking ticket, then it is supposed to be placed on the car.
4. There is no settlement option available, and the amount asked, has to be paid which is 2-3 times the principal. The amounts have been finalized from Italian authorities.
Now I am going to write the questions and confusing points:
1. We need verification of the address to be sure we are talking to the right person. Besides address we don’t have DOB, credit score and any other information.
2. Why Italian police doesn’t pull you over or have this department of fines to handle there in Italy.
3. Why there are road signs in Italian language and not in English despite such huge number of people visit because of either tourism or the Vatican City.
4. Why there is no picture front side of car showing the person driving. We tell them that they don’t take pictures of driver but instead they take picture of back of car showing number plate. The name of driver is obtained from car rental agency.
5. Why Italian police send tickets via unregistered mail?
6. We don’t have authority to hit the credit score in case of non-payment but we try to round this saying, we haven’t reported this credit bureau but if client wants, we are not sure.
7. What if I don’t want to pay? The answer is, well sir, we will report this matter back to our client as a refusal to pay, if they decide to take you to courts, it is up to them. We are not lawyers; we are just collections.
8. Why didn’t I get Italian letter of ticket? The answer is, well sir, they tried sending you the letter at the address you provided them in rental car agreement and if you missed it (due to address change or anything) then they were only liable to send you the ticket, the receipt of it, is not their duty.
9. They send Italian tickets to USA people, in Italian language and want them to be paid. They don’t send letters and tickets in English translation. It is your responsibility to get it handled, so either you take it a junk mail or scam or you take the pain to get it translate to understand what it is?
Now there are some further questions which are on a larger scale.
1. They send tickets in Italian language, to English people. Why? Don’t they have any department to get it translated in English and then send it.
2. Article 201 of Italian highway code allows them to collect by any means, as long we are polite and don’t violate FDCPA (though FDCPA doesn’t fall in this category).
3. These are international tickets and cannot hit credit score. Even if consumer refuses to pay, even then there is no implication on him. But we try to frighten him of saying that they haven’t hit your credit score in the past but if they see the ticket unpaid then they might go that way too.
4. Is it possible that Italian govt. is involved in this whole matter with USA govt. that these tickets are a good source of money even though their international implications are none but just because there is no concrete evidence of ticket and the fines range between 300-700 dollars mostly (if he has 1-2 tickets) so they are continuing it? And people pay it because they don’t want this to hit their credit score.
5. We tell them that you had to obtain permit for entering in ZTL (zona traffico limitato) which are basically the areas of historical sites where they allow only cars with passes, which a tourist has to obtain from their hotels or whatever and paste it on front/back of car so that it is visible and a ticket is not charged. Now during calls, I heard people complaining that we were never informed about permits and time slots in which entrance is permitted. We answer them that since you signed the car rental agreement, this was mentioned in it and you signed it, and it was your responsibility to read it. Since you didn’t, then pay.
Now the confusing thing is, that such a huge tourism industry + attraction of people coming for Vatican, why they don’t have these instructions clearly and widely advertised. Why don’t USA govt. publish manuals for Italian tour guides etc.
6. Sometimes various attorneys contact us too on behalf of their consumers, and they also try to settle the matters either by simply paying or going through the supporting documents and then paying. Did no attorney try to investigate deeper?
7. Is it possible that someone (crooked) thought of it as a good and continuous source of money and thought to gather data from rental agencies and charge them with tickets randomly since these files cannot be brought to courts inside USA for fighting them and those people thought since USA people care about their credit score, so let’s use this method and snatch money from them? And since there is no concrete proof, and all that is available, the name of person from rental agency who rented the car, his address, a picture of backside of car showing number plate, and a copy of ticket (we have it translated in English).
8. Why don’t Italian people contact them via phones? After all the person is providing his driver’s license and If both countries govt. are involved (legally and truly) then a phone call should be given.
9. Since a drivers license, if accessed via real authorities can provide the change in address of a person but tickets are only sent to the address he provided to the rental agency and that’s it. We tell them, as per their law, article 201, they are only liable to send. You get it or not, you ignore it or not, you pay it or not, you discard it or not, you missed it or not, they are not responsible.
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