Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
bglhdintraining
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:37 pm

Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by bglhdintraining »

Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
typical.investor
Posts: 2294
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by typical.investor »

bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
Hi and welcome.

I assume you mean the thread in this post. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=282088

Was it a rental? Not paying may affect your ability to rent in the future.

I suggest replying in Italian if you try to confirm it's legitimate. Use https://translate.google.com/ (keep sentences simple). Do you still have the contact info?

Similarly, Google Translate on your phone (may have to download from the AppStore your phone uses) has a camera function that you can use. It would help if they sent you a scan and something is written in Italian. Sometimes it works best if you manually select the lightning bolt to turn the light on for the phone.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20703
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Watty »

bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
You can write them a "drop dead letter" and then they cannot legally contact you again.

https://clark.com/consumer-issues-id-th ... on-agency/

That does not absolve you of the debt or any thing so they could still try to take you to court for a debt but I doubt that is likely with an Italian parking ticket.

I have received repeated collection call for people with similar names and since I have read up on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and as soon as I mention that they stop calling since they know that I am not clueless about my rights.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fa ... -fdcpa.asp

As someone else already mentioned you could be blacklisted from car rentals and it is possible that car rental companies share their blacklists so you might have trouble with other rental car companies too but I don't know how likely that is. I don't know if there would be any risk of problems if you went back to Italy or the EU some day and it pops up on a computer when you are going through customs.

The prior post about using translators was a good idea but with Italy being basically shut down with the pandemic I would not be optimistic about you being able to make much progress that way.

You may have two reasons for the ticket. Driving in a restricted area which is a common problem in Italy around the old town areas in large cities. People have gotten lost and circled around going in and out of a restricted area and gotten multiple expensive tickets on the same day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zona_a_traffico_limitato

or parking in a handicap spot without the proper permit. Or possibly both. You post was not clear if you had some sort of Italian Handicap parking pass or you just had your US pass.

The translation may tell you if it was that you driving in the restricted area, or you may be able to see "Zona a traffico limitato (ZTL) " somewhere in the Italian letter. If so then you likely did it and paying the ticket would be reasonable but I would offer the collection agency something like $200 as long as they will send you a written statement saying that covers everything and closes the debt. Do not send the money without getting that in writing. They likely bought the debt for pennies so they may be glad to take whatever they can get.
Jack FFR1846
Posts: 12664
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Perhaps one of the lawyers could chime in. I would think.....if they took you to court....you could simply respond that you've committed no crime within the court's jurisdiction. I expect the court would agree and that would be the end of it. Do you think Italy will extradite you over a parking ticket?
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
criticalmass
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by criticalmass »

bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Cedars Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
This sounds like a shakedown effort and the collection agency saying "they would be calling several times now, till paid up" indicates a very loose relationship with debt collection law, which is their detriment. You have the right to stop their calling you and non-compliance penalties can be severe. Next, you need to send them a validation demand letter within 30 days of their written notification. Finally, their legal authority to collect a claimed debt in Italy may be dubious. Even if you pay the shakedown I mean collector, you may still be subject to whatever penalties (if any) in Italy. If it is a legitimate debt collection, they already consider the matter closed, since the debt collector acquired the debt. Do NOT assume that you are guilty of anything in Italy because you get a US based shakedown. And do NOT assume that you will be put on a European naughty list. A counterclaim in small claims court of your jurisdiction not Cedar's may put a stop on the whole thing.

A legitimate police ticket would need to go through the State department and embassy/consulate and relevant courts. This is a fishing (not phishing) attempt and probably has some percentage of success with folks who just pay.

Also try creditboards.com You may get far better advice there than some posts you will receive on BH.
TravelGeek
Posts: 3781
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by TravelGeek »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:15 pm Perhaps one of the lawyers could chime in. I would think.....if they took you to court....you could simply respond that you've committed no crime within the court's jurisdiction. I expect the court would agree and that would be the end of it. Do you think Italy will extradite you over a parking ticket?
I wonder if the collections agency is actually acting on behalf of the rental car company. I would expect Italy to go after the owner of the car if the renter isn’t responding (and of course they have to get the contact info of the renter from the rental agency anyway). I have received a notice from Avis that I was caught in a speed trap on the German Autobahn and, in accordance with the rental agreement, would be billed (charged?) the fine plus an Avis processing fee. For some reason that never happened in my case and I am not blacklisted by Avis.

If I had received further details, I would have asked for the evidence photograph, and if indeed my rental, would have paid.
seawolf21
Posts: 731
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by seawolf21 »

typical.investor wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:35 pmWas it a rental? Not paying may affect your ability to rent in the future.
Rental company’s obligation is to identify name of renter to authorities. Their involvement ends the moment they did that. They will rent to renter again regardless of outcome. You only get blacklisted if you don’t pay what is owe to rental agency whether it be rental charges or damages to vehicle. Rental company will also not pay fine and charge you on your behalf because they can’t enter a plea for you as that will take away your right to enter a plea.
TravelGeek wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:31 pmI would expect Italy to go after the owner of the car if the renter isn’t responding (and of course they have to get the contact info of the renter from the rental agency anyway). I have received a notice from Avis that I was caught in a speed trap on the German Autobahn and, in accordance with the rental agreement, would be billed (charged?) the fine plus an Avis processing fee. For some reason that never happened in my case and I am not blacklisted by Avis.
In case of Germany they likely realize renter is outside of Europe and if the fine is low enough it is not worth their time or it got lost in the mail. See prior paragraph on why you are not blacklisted; rental agency doesn’t care once they provide renter details.
Watty wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:26 pmAs someone else already mentioned you could be blacklisted from car rentals and it is possible that car rental companies share their blacklists so you might have trouble with other rental car companies too but I don't know how likely that is. I don't know if there would be any risk of problems if you went back to Italy or the EU some day and it pops up on a computer when you are going through customs.
Potential problem if entering/exiting Italy assuming Italians link up Italian “parking” databases to Italian border police. Germany doesn’t. Netherlands yes to Dutch violations.

OP will have no problem going to Italy thru another Schengen country. Just don’t do anything to attract attention of Italian police once you are there. It’s also very possible Italian authorities already sold the debt to the collector. In that case Italy may not even care anymore.
User avatar
jabberwockOG
Posts: 2297
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 7:23 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by jabberwockOG »

I had the same notice from the same company for a Italian traffic cam ticket. Italian cities are infested with traffic cameras in poorly identified "restricted zones" and issue what must be thousands of tickets to unsuspecting tourists.

I sent the collection agency a "I dispute this claim and do not contact me except in writing note" by certified mail more than a year ago and never heard from them again.
User avatar
samsoes
Posts: 1488
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:12 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by samsoes »

Pay the collection agency $10 per month and forget about it.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)
Mongoose
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:02 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Mongoose »

Same thing happened to us when we visited Rome! This was about 7 years ago and I had no idea they were sending a fine. We lived out of the country and my US address was my parents so I believe they were just throwing out the letters since they were not in English.

The fine was 100 euros which I would have paid since apparently we did break the law in the city (questionable- ie tourist trap bs); however, because when they contacted me last year it had been so long they tacked on almost 400 euros in additional fines and fees. I pretty much told them to shove it and I would be willing to pay the original fine amount if they were able to produce evidence to my current address, but I would not pay ANYTHING over the 100 euros. I got about 10 calls over the year and had to explain the same thing each time to them and each time they said they would send evidence, but they could not reduce the fees.

I never got any evidence in the mail so I just started ignoring the calls. I do not plan on returning to Italy in my life (I assume have a warrant there now for my arrest?) Also- in my situation a collection agency was calling me; however, they specifically said "this is not in debt collection" we work for the Italian PD and are trying to collect the fine before it goes into debt collection.
Last edited by Mongoose on Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

samsoes wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:38 am Pay the collection agency $10 per month and forget about it.
Easily the worst advice in this thread. This accomplished nothing except making the collection agency richer by $10 a month and your poorer by $10. The collection agency will take advantage of this in a heartbeat. OP please ignore this horrible advice.
User avatar
8foot7
Posts: 2309
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:29 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by 8foot7 »

This one's easy. Combined cease and desist (restricted to telephone) and dispute letter to agency, certified mail return receipt requested. They are prohibited by law from hitting your credit until they provide validation, which will be, let's say, a long time in coming given the state of Italy right now. https://www.neweconomynyc.org/your-righ ... -the-debt/

What's almost certain to happen is that agency will close your file and advise Italy they don't want to handle it anymore since they know their only leverage is to annoy the piss out of you and you've just legally taken that away. Plus on a $400 debt they will probably only get about 25% of whatever the original amount you owe to Italy is + whatever junk fees they've assessed (which you could negotiate away if you wanted, but I advise against doing anything on this), so not a lot of meat on this bone.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20703
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Watty »

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:48 am
samsoes wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:38 am Pay the collection agency $10 per month and forget about it.
Easily the worst advice in this thread. This accomplished nothing except making the collection agency richer by $10 a month and your poorer by $10. The collection agency will take advantage of this in a heartbeat. OP please ignore this horrible advice.
Even worse than that.

It can vary by the type of debt and your state law but after a certain number of years a debt becomes uncollectible and even if they took you to court it would be thrown out because it was too old.

If you pay them $10 that would reset the clock and extend the amount of time that the debt was legally collectable.

Some debt collectors have also been known to take the information from a check you send then and do an ACH transfer for more money from your checking account and then say that you told them to do that over the phone.
ARoseByAnyOtherName
Posts: 1000
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:03 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

Watty wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:40 am Some debt collectors have also been known to take the information from a check you send then and do an ACH transfer for more money from your checking account and then say that you told them to do that over the phone.
The stimulus check I got from the Treasury had their routing and account number on it of course. I wonder what would happen if I ACH-debited it for a couple mill? With all those trillions sloshing around they wouldn't miss it right?

In all seriousness I've never heard of that but it's yet another good reason to have as little contact as possible with debt collectors.
User avatar
TxAg
Posts: 1702
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by TxAg »

Just ignore them.
Tribonian
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:33 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Tribonian »

By certified letter, with proof of delivery, I’d state you are willing to consider paying once they provide the following:

Specify which article of Title IX of Book 4 of the Codice Civile of 1942 allegedly created an enforceable obligation (or che fatto illecito avrebbe creato un’obbligazione secondo il Libro Quarto - Delle Obbligazioni, artt. 1173-2059).

All documentary evidence to support the violation of said Book 4 article which should be furnished to you pursuant to articles 2643-2696 (inclusive) of Title II of Book 6 of the Codice Civile of 1942.

A copy of any judgment rendered against you by the tribunale di Siena. (I once spent an incredibly entertaining day there watching an anarchist judge rule on poaching and parking violations).

Tell them once you have had a chance to evaluate that documentation, you will consider whether or not the tribunal properly exercised original jurisdiction and whether or not any judgments rendered are enforceable in the U.S.

Nota bene: IANYL, but feel free to DM me if they send anything in response.
Nyarlathotep
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:24 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Nyarlathotep »

If you were in a rental car when this happened, then I'm puzzled why the traffic fine didn't show up on the credit card that you used to book the rental car. If it did, you should have simply disputed the charge with your credit card company.

This happened to me when I was in Spain a few years ago. I mistakenly parked in an unmarked (or, at least, very poorly marked) restricted zone, and I had a paper ticket under my windshield wiper when I got back to the car a half hour later. I ignored it at the time, but a few months later it showed up on my credit card statement. I contacted the rental car company (Sixt) to explain why I didn't think I should have to pay, but they seemed unwilling to work with me. Just kept telling me it was out of their hands, and I'd have to contact the local police office in Spain to try to get it dismissed. So, I simply called up my credit card company, explained the situation, and told them I wanted to dispute the charge. They were happy to remove the charge from my bill, pending "further investigation". I received an email a few days later saying they were looking into it and would let me know if I needed to do anything further. Never heard anything more about it, and never had to pay the fine.
Pacific
Posts: 1397
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:19 pm
Location: Lost in the middle of the Pacific

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by Pacific »

criticalmass wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:20 pm
bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Cedars Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
This sounds like a shakedown effort and the collection agency saying "they would be calling several times now, till paid up" indicates a very loose relationship with debt collection law, which is their detriment. You have the right to stop their calling you and non-compliance penalties can be severe. Next, you need to send them a validation demand letter within 30 days of their written notification. Finally, their legal authority to collect a claimed debt in Italy may be dubious. Even if you pay the shakedown I mean collector, you may still be subject to whatever penalties (if any) in Italy. If it is a legitimate debt collection, they already consider the matter closed, since the debt collector acquired the debt. Do NOT assume that you are guilty of anything in Italy because you get a US based shakedown. And do NOT assume that you will be put on a European naughty list. A counterclaim in small claims court of your jurisdiction not Cedar's may put a stop on the whole thing.

A legitimate police ticket would need to go through the State department and embassy/consulate and relevant courts. This is a fishing (not phishing) attempt and probably has some percentage of success with folks who just pay.

Also try creditboards.com You may get far better advice there than some posts you will receive on BH.
Clearly you have not been to Italy and especially in Siena. All of the travel books warn about these restricted areas and the difficulty of paying attention to the signs. The same thing happened to me when I dropped my wife off to meet a tours by locals guide and she showed me where to park the vehicle (in a stadium parking lot). I took a very short short-cut to get to the stadium entrance and realized I had started to go past one of those signs. I immediately stopped and backed up and turned around. It must have automatically taken a photo when my car crossed the line. About 14 months later I received the notification. Because I want to eventually return to Italy, I decided to pay it. I think it cost me US$112 because of the exchange rate (put it on my Costco credit card so at least I got a few dollars off!).
User avatar
samsoes
Posts: 1488
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:12 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by samsoes »

Watty wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:40 am
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:48 am
samsoes wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:38 am Pay the collection agency $10 per month and forget about it.
Easily the worst advice in this thread. This accomplished nothing except making the collection agency richer by $10 a month and your poorer by $10. The collection agency will take advantage of this in a heartbeat. OP please ignore this horrible advice.
Even worse than that.

It can vary by the type of debt and your state law but after a certain number of years a debt becomes uncollectible and even if they took you to court it would be thrown out because it was too old.

If you pay them $10 that would reset the clock and extend the amount of time that the debt was legally collectable.

Some debt collectors have also been known to take the information from a check you send then and do an ACH transfer for more money from your checking account and then say that you told them to do that over the phone.
Good point. Use Walmart money orders to pay the $10/mo. I believe they only cost 74c.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)
coalcracker
Posts: 600
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:25 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by coalcracker »

I’ve had two international incidents with fines related to car rentals: a speeding ticket in Spain and a cracked windshield in France.

In the case of the speeding ticket, there was an attempt to charge to my credit card and it was flagged as a possible fraudulent charge. I was unaware of the ticket (presumably an issue with an easypass style toll payment) and denied it. After some back-and-forth with threatened fines over a period of six months, during which I offered to pay the initial fine in communications with the police and rental car company, I never heard anything again.

For the cracked windshield, I was told that my credit card (through whom I had insurance) would be charged for the amount of windshield replacement. My credit card requested photos of the damage and an itemized repair bill from the rental car company. They never provided these, and I was never charged.

These incidents occurred 3 and 5 years ago. I’m sure I will go back to these places at some point in the future and rent a car. I’m not worried about it.
seawolf21
Posts: 731
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by seawolf21 »

Nyarlathotep wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:45 pm If you were in a rental car when this happened, then I'm puzzled why the traffic fine didn't show up on the credit card that you used to book the rental car. If it did, you should have simply disputed the charge with your credit card company.

This happened to me when I was in Spain a few years ago. I mistakenly parked in an unmarked (or, at least, very poorly marked) restricted zone, and I had a paper ticket under my windshield wiper when I got back to the car a half hour later. I ignored it at the time, but a few months later it showed up on my credit card statement. I contacted the rental car company (Sixt) to explain why I didn't think I should have to pay, but they seemed unwilling to work with me. Just kept telling me it was out of their hands, and I'd have to contact the local police office in Spain to try to get it dismissed. So, I simply called up my credit card company, explained the situation, and told them I wanted to dispute the charge. They were happy to remove the charge from my bill, pending "further investigation". I received an email a few days later saying they were looking into it and would let me know if I needed to do anything further. Never heard anything more about it, and never had to pay the fine.
You answered your question. Rental car company paying your fine without your authorization just end up losing out as the charge will get reversed. Rental car company should not be paying your fine as that is essentially pleading guilty for you.

As Sixt already paid the fine, the violation was closed as far as the authorities were concern. Sixt end up holding the bag.
criticalmass
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by criticalmass »

Pacific wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:19 pm
criticalmass wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:20 pm
bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Cedars Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
This sounds like a shakedown effort and the collection agency saying "they would be calling several times now, till paid up" indicates a very loose relationship with debt collection law, which is their detriment. You have the right to stop their calling you and non-compliance penalties can be severe. Next, you need to send them a validation demand letter within 30 days of their written notification. Finally, their legal authority to collect a claimed debt in Italy may be dubious. Even if you pay the shakedown I mean collector, you may still be subject to whatever penalties (if any) in Italy. If it is a legitimate debt collection, they already consider the matter closed, since the debt collector acquired the debt. Do NOT assume that you are guilty of anything in Italy because you get a US based shakedown. And do NOT assume that you will be put on a European naughty list. A counterclaim in small claims court of your jurisdiction not Cedar's may put a stop on the whole thing.

A legitimate police ticket would need to go through the State department and embassy/consulate and relevant courts. This is a fishing (not phishing) attempt and probably has some percentage of success with folks who just pay.

Also try creditboards.com You may get far better advice there than some posts you will receive on BH.
Clearly you have not been to Italy and especially in Siena. All of the travel books warn about these restricted areas and the difficulty of paying attention to the signs. The same thing happened to me when I dropped my wife off to meet a tours by locals guide and she showed me where to park the vehicle (in a stadium parking lot). I took a very short short-cut to get to the stadium entrance and realized I had started to go past one of those signs. I immediately stopped and backed up and turned around. It must have automatically taken a photo when my car crossed the line. About 14 months later I received the notification. Because I want to eventually return to Italy, I decided to pay it. I think it cost me US$112 because of the exchange rate (put it on my Costco credit card so at least I got a few dollars off!).
I’ve lived in Italy. Paying or not paying a US based shakedown artist has no bearing on you or anyone's future travels. Italy and any jurisdiction within is no longer involved. A US company already paid them in exchange for a chance to shakedown unsuspecting US persons.
jminv
Posts: 1073
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by jminv »

bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
How do you know this was about parking in a spot you weren't supposed to if you didn't use google translate to understand what the ticket was about? If it was entering a restricted area, which is a very common fine tourists to Italy face, then sending them a handicap sticker wouldn't have helped it would have just seemed to them that you want to get out of following the rules on who can enter town and when because you have some American handicap placard. In any case the Italians took note of what you sent and decided you're still responsible for paying it, probably because it was a restricted area you entered and nothing to do with a handicap spot.

FYI restricted area traffic fines are not a criminal offense in Italy and the information will not be shared with immigration authorities ie you will still be able to enter Italy and passport control won't hold you until you pay or whatever people imagine it might be (it's not the same across the EU, for example if you have outstanding tickets in the Netherlands and try entering again though you have to pay!).

Here's what I told a previous person asking about this here on bogleheads and much of it applies to you, except you were notified at some point around the one year mark but it's unlikely the debt collection company will be able to provide you this proof in order to be able to legally collect the fine:
The OP should first follow the following line with the debt collector: because they were not notified of the debt within one year of the information being sent from the rental company the fine is invalid. They only heard about it two years after the fact. OP demand proof that you were notified of the fine within 360 days of your details being communicated by your rental company. The debt collector is very unlikely to have that. Technically it could be up to 510 days (90 days for authorities to notify car company, 60 days to notify them of your address and 360 days to notify you) but you said it’s been two years. You haven’t said but has the rental car company charged your card an administrative fee for passing your details on to the authorities yet? If not, be extra skeptical. This sounds more like a situation where the fine was lost in paperwork, they can’t collect on a card, and they’re hoping you just pay.

If they can provide proof then probably just pay to avoid having the rental car company come after you but then it seems like they don’t have your card on file. Also, the fines lapse after 5 years so you might want to take that into account.

Restricted zone fines are very common and are basically targeted at tourists who don’t know the rules whereas locals do. It’s a tourist tax in a land of scams. Normally, there’s no debt collector involved because hertz or whoever Gets the notice of the fine and then charges your card on file a fine administration fee.
seawolf21
Posts: 731
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by seawolf21 »

jminv wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:53 am
bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
How do you know this was about parking in a spot you weren't supposed to if you didn't use google translate to understand what the ticket was about? If it was entering a restricted area, which is a very common fine tourists to Italy face, then sending them a handicap sticker wouldn't have helped it would have just seemed to them that you want to get out of following the rules on who can enter town and when because you have some American handicap placard. In any case the Italians took note of what you sent and decided you're still responsible for paying it, probably because it was a restricted area you entered and nothing to do with a handicap spot.

FYI restricted area traffic fines are not a criminal offense in Italy and the information will not be shared with immigration authorities ie you will still be able to enter Italy and passport control won't hold you until you pay or whatever people imagine it might be (it's not the same across the EU, for example if you have outstanding tickets in the Netherlands and try entering again though you have to pay!).

Here's what I told a previous person asking about this here on bogleheads and much of it applies to you, except you were notified at some point around the one year mark but it's unlikely the debt collection company will be able to provide you this proof in order to be able to legally collect the fine:
The OP should first follow the following line with the debt collector: because they were not notified of the debt within one year of the information being sent from the rental company the fine is invalid. They only heard about it two years after the fact. OP demand proof that you were notified of the fine within 360 days of your details being communicated by your rental company. The debt collector is very unlikely to have that. Technically it could be up to 510 days (90 days for authorities to notify car company, 60 days to notify them of your address and 360 days to notify you) but you said it’s been two years. You haven’t said but has the rental car company charged your card an administrative fee for passing your details on to the authorities yet? If not, be extra skeptical. This sounds more like a situation where the fine was lost in paperwork, they can’t collect on a card, and they’re hoping you just pay.

If they can provide proof then probably just pay to avoid having the rental car company come after you but then it seems like they don’t have your card on file. Also, the fines lapse after 5 years so you might want to take that into account.

Restricted zone fines are very common and are basically targeted at tourists who don’t know the rules whereas locals do. It’s a tourist tax in a land of scams. Normally, there’s no debt collector involved because hertz or whoever Gets the notice of the fine and then charges your card on file a fine administration fee.
Rental company is not a part of this. Only parties involved are OP, US debt collector, and maybe Italian authorities (depends on whether they sold the debt to debt collector or just hired them to collect).
jminv
Posts: 1073
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by jminv »

seawolf21 wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:52 am
jminv wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:53 am
bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
How do you know this was about parking in a spot you weren't supposed to if you didn't use google translate to understand what the ticket was about? If it was entering a restricted area, which is a very common fine tourists to Italy face, then sending them a handicap sticker wouldn't have helped it would have just seemed to them that you want to get out of following the rules on who can enter town and when because you have some American handicap placard. In any case the Italians took note of what you sent and decided you're still responsible for paying it, probably because it was a restricted area you entered and nothing to do with a handicap spot.

FYI restricted area traffic fines are not a criminal offense in Italy and the information will not be shared with immigration authorities ie you will still be able to enter Italy and passport control won't hold you until you pay or whatever people imagine it might be (it's not the same across the EU, for example if you have outstanding tickets in the Netherlands and try entering again though you have to pay!).

Here's what I told a previous person asking about this here on bogleheads and much of it applies to you, except you were notified at some point around the one year mark but it's unlikely the debt collection company will be able to provide you this proof in order to be able to legally collect the fine:
The OP should first follow the following line with the debt collector: because they were not notified of the debt within one year of the information being sent from the rental company the fine is invalid. They only heard about it two years after the fact. OP demand proof that you were notified of the fine within 360 days of your details being communicated by your rental company. The debt collector is very unlikely to have that. Technically it could be up to 510 days (90 days for authorities to notify car company, 60 days to notify them of your address and 360 days to notify you) but you said it’s been two years. You haven’t said but has the rental car company charged your card an administrative fee for passing your details on to the authorities yet? If not, be extra skeptical. This sounds more like a situation where the fine was lost in paperwork, they can’t collect on a card, and they’re hoping you just pay.

If they can provide proof then probably just pay to avoid having the rental car company come after you but then it seems like they don’t have your card on file. Also, the fines lapse after 5 years so you might want to take that into account.

Restricted zone fines are very common and are basically targeted at tourists who don’t know the rules whereas locals do. It’s a tourist tax in a land of scams. Normally, there’s no debt collector involved because hertz or whoever Gets the notice of the fine and then charges your card on file a fine administration fee.
Rental company is not a part of this. Only parties involved are OP, US debt collector, and maybe Italian authorities (depends on whether they sold the debt to debt collector or just hired them to collect).
It's a good assumption that a rental car company was involved in giving the Italian authorities the OP's contact details but it doesn't really matter since regardless of the effect it has on the notification period, it's unlikely the debt collection agency would be able to prove the notification period was followed. If they can't prove they followed the notification period, they can't legally collect the debt. They will then send the file back to Italy. That's their process.

I doubt the OP has a EU or Italian registered vehicle so yes a rental car was most likely involved here. If a rental car wasn't involved then the OP can just subtract the rental car portion of the notification period. What OP is hoping for anyway is that they don't have notification period information anyway. This debt collector operates on a spray and pray model and if you don't pay, it just gets sent back to Italy. Rental car companies used to bill these Italian restricted zone fines directly to renters but this seems to no longer be the case since too many people just charge them back.

The OP can still enter Italy with no issues (unlike if it was a traffic fine from the Netherlands or Germany where you can be made to pay the fine on arrival), restricted zone fines in Italy are not criminal offenses, and they're wiped after 5 years.

So, the OP needs to demand that the debt collector show proof that the proper notification period was followed. If it wasn't, don't pay. If it was, I'd still consider not paying because the procedure is that if you don't pay, they send the file back to the Italians who then just forget about it after 5 years. That is their procedure. It also can't hurt your credit. If you read how these debt collectors operate with these tickets they know it can't hurt your credit but they try to get you to pay anyway. Also, no settlement options (ie pay only a part). Normally yes you would pay legitimate fines but these municipal restricted zone fines are pretty much a tourist trap that foreigners pay. Florence and Milan are notorious for it and no I've never gotten fined for it, but I do live in Europe and do spend quite a bit of time in Italy. We know people who have been fined and how the process played out.

If you want to read about what someone who works for Ceders has to say about these Italian restricted zone fines look here:
https://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/f ... tions.html

If the Italians had their act together they would send the notices out in English and Italian and show an easy way to pay and an official Italian government site to verify the fine is valid (they have this but you have to know about it). Instead they send it in Italian, know no one will pay, then they send it to Ceders and increase the fine amount 2-3 times. They do it just to follow the process. If they collect, great, if they don't then it goes bye bye in 5 years. They could make it easier and get a higher percentage of people to pay. Instead they like turning it over to debt collectors
atikovi
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:20 pm
Location: Suburban Washington DC

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by atikovi »

bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pmThe debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up.
Let it go to voicemail and then delete.
seawolf21
Posts: 731
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector-revisited?

Post by seawolf21 »

jminv wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:06 pm
seawolf21 wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:52 am
jminv wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:53 am
bglhdintraining wrote: Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:05 pm Today I was contacted by a Ceders Business Services, a debt collection agency in CA, regarding a traffic violation from April of 2018, from Siena, Italy. I was not aware I had entered or parked in a restricted area at the time and no violation was on my vehicle; the ticket was issued from a video camera file. I am a handicapped veteran and thought since I showed a Policeman near by I had a Handicapped parking pass it was ok to park there at the time. The Policeman did not object to me parking in a spot where another car had just vacated, close to where we were going for a picture. No citation was on the car when we returned 20 min later. When I did get my first notice of this violation from the Italian Police it was September of 2019. It asked for 140Euros and for me to respond in Italian. I don't know Italian, so I just sent a picture of my handicapped sticker along with a brief note in English, enclosing the information they sent me without any money; I never heard back; thought everything was fine till this call today from Ceders Business Services, requesting me to pay $400+.

I note in 2019, others posted here on similar experience. I am curious as to the outcomes/advice...is there any clear way to resolve this? The debt collection rep I talked with today, said they would be calling several times now, till I paid up. Asking for experienced advise...thanks.
How do you know this was about parking in a spot you weren't supposed to if you didn't use google translate to understand what the ticket was about? If it was entering a restricted area, which is a very common fine tourists to Italy face, then sending them a handicap sticker wouldn't have helped it would have just seemed to them that you want to get out of following the rules on who can enter town and when because you have some American handicap placard. In any case the Italians took note of what you sent and decided you're still responsible for paying it, probably because it was a restricted area you entered and nothing to do with a handicap spot.

FYI restricted area traffic fines are not a criminal offense in Italy and the information will not be shared with immigration authorities ie you will still be able to enter Italy and passport control won't hold you until you pay or whatever people imagine it might be (it's not the same across the EU, for example if you have outstanding tickets in the Netherlands and try entering again though you have to pay!).

Here's what I told a previous person asking about this here on bogleheads and much of it applies to you, except you were notified at some point around the one year mark but it's unlikely the debt collection company will be able to provide you this proof in order to be able to legally collect the fine:
The OP should first follow the following line with the debt collector: because they were not notified of the debt within one year of the information being sent from the rental company the fine is invalid. They only heard about it two years after the fact. OP demand proof that you were notified of the fine within 360 days of your details being communicated by your rental company. The debt collector is very unlikely to have that. Technically it could be up to 510 days (90 days for authorities to notify car company, 60 days to notify them of your address and 360 days to notify you) but you said it’s been two years. You haven’t said but has the rental car company charged your card an administrative fee for passing your details on to the authorities yet? If not, be extra skeptical. This sounds more like a situation where the fine was lost in paperwork, they can’t collect on a card, and they’re hoping you just pay.

If they can provide proof then probably just pay to avoid having the rental car company come after you but then it seems like they don’t have your card on file. Also, the fines lapse after 5 years so you might want to take that into account.

Restricted zone fines are very common and are basically targeted at tourists who don’t know the rules whereas locals do. It’s a tourist tax in a land of scams. Normally, there’s no debt collector involved because hertz or whoever Gets the notice of the fine and then charges your card on file a fine administration fee.
Rental company is not a part of this. Only parties involved are OP, US debt collector, and maybe Italian authorities (depends on whether they sold the debt to debt collector or just hired them to collect).
It's a good assumption that a rental car company was involved in giving the Italian authorities the OP's contact details but it doesn't really matter since regardless of the effect it has on the notification period, it's unlikely the debt collection agency would be able to prove the notification period was followed. If they can't prove they followed the notification period, they can't legally collect the debt. They will then send the file back to Italy. That's their process.

I doubt the OP has a EU or Italian registered vehicle so yes a rental car was most likely involved here. If a rental car wasn't involved then the OP can just subtract the rental car portion of the notification period. What OP is hoping for anyway is that they don't have notification period information anyway. This debt collector operates on a spray and pray model and if you don't pay, it just gets sent back to Italy. Rental car companies used to bill these Italian restricted zone fines directly to renters but this seems to no longer be the case since too many people just charge them back.

The OP can still enter Italy with no issues (unlike if it was a traffic fine from the Netherlands or Germany where you can be made to pay the fine on arrival), restricted zone fines in Italy are not criminal offenses, and they're wiped after 5 years.

So, the OP needs to demand that the debt collector show proof that the proper notification period was followed. If it wasn't, don't pay. If it was, I'd still consider not paying because the procedure is that if you don't pay, they send the file back to the Italians who then just forget about it after 5 years. That is their procedure. It also can't hurt your credit. If you read how these debt collectors operate with these tickets they know it can't hurt your credit but they try to get you to pay anyway. Also, no settlement options (ie pay only a part). Normally yes you would pay legitimate fines but these municipal restricted zone fines are pretty much a tourist trap that foreigners pay. Florence and Milan are notorious for it and no I've never gotten fined for it, but I do live in Europe and do spend quite a bit of time in Italy. We know people who have been fined and how the process played out.

If you want to read about what someone who works for Ceders has to say about these Italian restricted zone fines look here:
https://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/f ... tions.html

If the Italians had their act together they would send the notices out in English and Italian and show an easy way to pay and an official Italian government site to verify the fine is valid (they have this but you have to know about it). Instead they send it in Italian, know no one will pay, then they send it to Ceders and increase the fine amount 2-3 times. They do it just to follow the process. If they collect, great, if they don't then it goes bye bye in 5 years. They could make it easier and get a higher percentage of people to pay. Instead they like turning it over to debt collectors
Yes a rental car company is likely involved but they washed their hands out of all of this the moment they provided Italian authorities with name of renter. The rental company does not care how it gets sorted out afterwards. Renter is free to rent again from that same agency.
Post Reply