Question on Validation of Debt - Possible Red Light Camera?

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I got an automated call to my cell phone from CreditWatch Service "on behalf of the City of Albuquerque" telling me to call them regarding potential civil litigation. The message said to call them back for more information (first part which I found odd - I mean if they call me and want something, I'd expect someone on the line). After doing some Googling, it appears that they're trying to collection on traffic camera violations from 2004-2011. I never received any citation in the mail, and at this point, they've not even given me any sort of reference number for a violation. If you call them back, it's another automated message that says to leave them all your contact information and they'll call you back.

So how should I attempt to ask them to validate this? Do I call and leave all my contact info with them to have them call me back? Do I just send them a letter that has no reference to any sort of incident to request this validation?

It appears it may be legitimate according to Albuquerque news:

I have no issue paying a valid ticket...I do have an issue considering I never received anything so validation is a must. I don't live in ABQ but I have been in the city several times during that time span.

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I'd wait till I got a collection letter in the mail , then dispute it

I would certainly not leave my contact info on their phone system

Thanks - yeah I wasn't sure what the "proper" way to do this since attempts to contact them result in still not speaking to someone, then without any sort of reference number/violation number - I felt that sending a letter wouldn't do much good either. I'll wait until I get something in the mail - thanks!

If they got your phone number from your licence, then they can surely get your physical address and mail you a letter. To me it sounds too fishy to be true.

Do you know how these tickets are handled in your state ? In CA if you are the registered owner but not the driver that they photographed , try can't require you to reveal the name of the driver (though they try) and you also aren't liable if you dispute the citation since you weren't the driver .

Some states don't care who was driving and make the registered owner liable even if they weren't the driver

So City of Albuquerque had a red light camera system from 2004, operated by Redflex under a revenue sharing agreement involving the Redflex, City, and New Mexico. City terminated cameras in 2011, and Redflex got really sore about the termination. Redflex subsequently sued City for lost revenue. City resolved lawsuit by allowing Redflex to collect unpaid camera violations. Redflex hired Credit Watch as their collection agency. In New Mexico, violations get tagged to the registered owner, not the driver.

Credit Watch gets busy matching phone numbers to license plate number and starts making calls. Here's where it gets fishy. Are they complying with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? How do they know the phone number they might be calling now is connected to the plate as it was registered in 2004-2011? And according to the article, they appear to be making phone calls only, then dinging credit reports without sending notices in the mail. With $21 Million claimed outstanding ($4 Million to Redflex/Credit Watch), it sounds like someone needs to start watching Credit Watch.

I wouldn't acknowledge any phone calls, if they send a letter follow the legal dispute procedures. The whole thing sounds like a fishing expedition, they want to see how much money they can pile up with robocalls, and not bother with letters and postage. And they are threatening litigation too, despite their own practices. If they just ding a credit report improperly or violate FDCPA, there's an opportunity to go after the Credit Watch operation.

Making these robocalls appears to violate FCC regulations, since robocalls need opt-in permission now, even if there is an "established business relationship." FCC Robocall Guide

If you are on the FCC do not call list and have not given them permission to call, that's another violation. It appears that FCC has gotten more interested in do not call violations: FCC Do Not Call Page

I like this gem from one of the KOAT-TV articles cited earlier:

KOAT-TV said: "Drivers are highly encouraged to contact CreditWatch as soon as this phone call is received. Within 30 to 60 days of the initial call CreditWatch is obligated to report these unpaid citations to credit bureaus. "


Interesting, since they also say that the registered owner is responsible, not the driver. So why is the driver being encouraged to do anything? And who is "obligating" them to do anything?

It sounds like Credit Watch doesn't know or care much about the law. Maybe a class action specialist will get interested.

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