Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

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Topic Author
Invest_Wisely
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Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Invest_Wisely » Tue May 28, 2019 12:59 pm

My wife and I visited Italy during our honeymoon 2 years ago and rented a vehicle for a portion of our trip. During our travels, we were aware of certain Restricted Traffic Zones for the inner city areas and carefully avoided with our rental vehicle. Upon returning to the U.S., we moved together to a new residence.

Fast forward two years later to today...

I received a letter from a U.S.-based debt collector Cedar Financial in the amount of $462 for a photo ticket we were apparently issued while in Italy but never actually received (likely because the ticket was sent to our old address). The original ticket was around $250 USD but the debt collectors have added another $212 in penalties, notification, and procedural costs.

Although I'm annoyed I have no legal recourse to contest, if I legitimately incurred this penalty, I'm happy to pay the fine. So I called the debt collector and offered to pay only the fine to settle, but after four attempts they kept putting me on hold and hanging up on me. In all honesty, the whole thing feels fishy.

$500 isn't the end of the world to us (we have no debt and a fully funded 3-6 month emergency fund), but it's still $500. I'm not just going to give away $500.

What would you all recommend I do here? I've tried contacting the Italian government directly to pay the original ticket, but they tell me the ticket is now in collections with Cedar Financial. I've never had debt and I've never had to deal with debt collectors. The last thing I want is this affecting my credit score since we will be looking to buy a house within the next year or two.

Jags4186
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Jags4186 » Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm

My mother and I went to Italy together in 2013. In 2014 we received a ticket in the mail from Italy for 200 Euros for driving in a restricted travel area. Threw it in the trash. In 2015 we received a follow up for roughly 300 Euros, 200 plus penalties. My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.

FWIW we split the bill and paid it and my wife and I went to Italy for our honeymoon in 2016.

TropikThunder
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by TropikThunder » Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy? It’s basically a parking ticket, not like you would get arrested for it. The better question would be, can a US debt collector post a derogatory item to a US citizen’s credit report for a foreign debt? I don’t know the answer to this.

Jags4186
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Jags4186 » Tue May 28, 2019 1:17 pm

TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy? It’s basically a parking ticket, not like you would get arrested for it.
Like the United States, I would assume having unpaid tickets would eventually lead to a warrant for your arrest and likely for you to be grabbed the second you get try to go through passport control. Not sure if you’ve ever been to Italy but the national pastime is scamming people (joking...well maybe not). Do you want to get held at customs and then get told theres a $10,000 fine you need to pay before they let you go?

stan1
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by stan1 » Tue May 28, 2019 1:19 pm

Just pay it unless there's a time stamp on the photo and you know you weren't driving the car on that date. If so maybe you have a stamp in your passport showing you weren't in the EU when the infraction occurred.

TropikThunder
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by TropikThunder » Tue May 28, 2019 1:21 pm

Invest_Wisely wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 12:59 pm
My wife and I visited Italy during our honeymoon 2 years ago and rented a vehicle for a portion of our trip. During our travels, we were aware of certain Restricted Traffic Zones for the inner city areas and carefully avoided with our rental vehicle. Upon returning to the U.S., we moved together to a new residence.

Fast forward two years later to today...

I received a letter from a U.S.-based debt collector Cedar Financial in the amount of $462 for a photo ticket we were apparently issued while in Italy but never actually received (likely because the ticket was sent to our old address). The original ticket was around $250 USD but the debt collectors have added another $212 in penalties, notification, and procedural costs.
Was this in Florence by the way? My daughter and son in law got similar notices (2 for the same $462 you mention) in the mail from Cedar Financial but their “violations” were from 2014. I advised them not to pay it because in their case at least it’s already 5 years and even if it shows up as collections, it’s close enough to the 7 year limit where it will fall off and they already own a house (I would do the same thing myself). I wonder if they would be able to satisfactorily validate the debt but I advised them to disregard it and not engage the collector. Too soon to tell if that was the right advice. :P

Topic Author
Invest_Wisely
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Invest_Wisely » Tue May 28, 2019 1:24 pm

stan1 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:19 pm
Just pay it unless there's a time stamp on the photo and you know you weren't driving the car on that date. If so maybe you have a stamp in your passport showing you weren't in the EU when the infraction occurred.
That was my inclination (to just pay it), however, the $212 in penalties feels like highway robbery since I never even had an opportunity to pay the original ticket. Time is money so I imagine I won't want to spend much time chasing this. I also considered as in the comments above the repercussions for renting a vehicle again if my wife and I ever return to Italy.

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J G Bankerton
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by J G Bankerton » Tue May 28, 2019 1:27 pm

TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy?
Italy keeps a data base of scoff laws. Renting a car would be a problem among other things.

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Invest_Wisely
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Invest_Wisely » Tue May 28, 2019 1:28 pm

TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:21 pm
Invest_Wisely wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 12:59 pm
My wife and I visited Italy during our honeymoon 2 years ago and rented a vehicle for a portion of our trip. During our travels, we were aware of certain Restricted Traffic Zones for the inner city areas and carefully avoided with our rental vehicle. Upon returning to the U.S., we moved together to a new residence.

Fast forward two years later to today...

I received a letter from a U.S.-based debt collector Cedar Financial in the amount of $462 for a photo ticket we were apparently issued while in Italy but never actually received (likely because the ticket was sent to our old address). The original ticket was around $250 USD but the debt collectors have added another $212 in penalties, notification, and procedural costs.
Was this in Florence by the way? My daughter and son in law got similar notices (2 for the same $462 you mention) in the mail from Cedar Financial but their “violations” were from 2014. I advised them not to pay it because in their case at least it’s already 5 years and even if it shows up as collections, it’s close enough to the 7 year limit where it will fall off and they already own a house (I would do the same thing myself). I wonder if they would be able to satisfactorily validate the debt but I advised them to disregard it and not engage the collector. Too soon to tell if that was the right advice. :P
Interesting. Mine was from nearby Siena.

Jags4186
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Jags4186 » Tue May 28, 2019 1:28 pm

Invest_Wisely wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:28 pm
TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:21 pm
Invest_Wisely wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 12:59 pm
My wife and I visited Italy during our honeymoon 2 years ago and rented a vehicle for a portion of our trip. During our travels, we were aware of certain Restricted Traffic Zones for the inner city areas and carefully avoided with our rental vehicle. Upon returning to the U.S., we moved together to a new residence.

Fast forward two years later to today...

I received a letter from a U.S.-based debt collector Cedar Financial in the amount of $462 for a photo ticket we were apparently issued while in Italy but never actually received (likely because the ticket was sent to our old address). The original ticket was around $250 USD but the debt collectors have added another $212 in penalties, notification, and procedural costs.
Was this in Florence by the way? My daughter and son in law got similar notices (2 for the same $462 you mention) in the mail from Cedar Financial but their “violations” were from 2014. I advised them not to pay it because in their case at least it’s already 5 years and even if it shows up as collections, it’s close enough to the 7 year limit where it will fall off and they already own a house (I would do the same thing myself). I wonder if they would be able to satisfactorily validate the debt but I advised them to disregard it and not engage the collector. Too soon to tell if that was the right advice. :P
Interesting. Mine was from nearby Siena.
That’s where we got our ticket, Siena! If it makes you feel any better, I knew we were in a restricted zone because there was only about 6 inches on either side of our car as we went down one street and we were getting massive dirty looks for pedestrians.

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8foot7
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by 8foot7 » Tue May 28, 2019 1:33 pm

I would be highly inclined to ignore this. In fact, I'm sure I would.

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Watty
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Watty » Tue May 28, 2019 1:42 pm

If you do not pay it you could also end up being blacklisted by the car rental company(Google this) so even if you are not in Italy you might show up with a car reservation only to find that they will not rent you a car. I don't know if car rental companies share blacklists or not.

It sounds like so far you have verified that it is a real ticket and this collection agency is handling it so at least that part is not a scam. If you had received the notice promptly it would have still likely had a hundred dollars or so in additional fees so the additional delay did not add all that much.

If you were in the place where the ticket was written when it happened it is likely a valid ticket. At most they might have done something like intentionally not having it well posted but there is no way that you will ever be able to prove that. If that is the case then I would go on and pay it.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue May 28, 2019 1:49 pm

You can try to settle with the debt company. They likely bought it for 10 cents on the dollar and would love to get 50 cents on the dollar for it. The fact that you didn't pay in full may appear on your credit report of course, so it all depends on how much that matters to you as to how aggressively you try to settle it. Obviously, whatever you pay to settle it have in writing prior to sending a check that it constitutes payment in full.
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by scubadiver » Tue May 28, 2019 2:01 pm

We'll assume for a moment that the ticket and associated fines are legit...

At this point, are you certain that paying the debt owed to the collections agency will clear your name with the Italian municipality that issued the ticket? For some reason, I doubt that. So, if clearing your good name is important to you, try reaching out to the municipality were the infraction occurred and settling directly with them. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother with the collections agency. They took a risk in buying the "bad debt" on the hope that they could collect the funds. They bet poorly.

boglesmind
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by boglesmind » Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm

I am surprised at the many suggestions to ignore the ticket. I thought Bogleheads forum rules prohibit suggestions such as this.

I received traffic tickets in Europe in the past and promptly paid them. It makes no difference if the traffic ticket is issued in the U.S or abroad as long as I am sure it is legitimate. From my PoV, I don't think it is justifiable to evade a foreign traffic ticket but pay a U.S. ticket. The consequences or lack thereof should not steer one's decision, IMHO. Your compass may point in a different direction.
That’s where we got our ticket, Siena! If it makes you feel any better, I knew we were in a restricted zone because there was only about 6 inches on either side of our car as we went down one street and we were getting massive dirty looks for pedestrians.
When I travel abroad, I cringe when *some* fellow Americans act in a manner not consistent with the host country's rules/values. If you don't like those rules, may I suggest staying home? Would I tolerate some tourist from another country spitting in public or throwing litter or incur a traffic ticket here and not pay it? No double standards please. Why would I drive through a ZTL zone realizing that only a few inches of space is left on either side of the car? If you didn't know, then you just pay the ticket. We spent more than 3 weeks in Italy and fully researched the issues with driving there. We took the trains and metro/tram/bus/Vaporetto, leaving the driving to others and enjoyed our vacation!

I suggest Italians get Google/twitter guys to help set up a real-time system to notify the rental car companies as soon as violations occur and charge the renter's credit card at the end of the rental period.

I absolutely don't mean to preach. Please take it in the right spirit.

Boglesmind

PS; Pay the municipality and ignore the US collections agency as one of the posters suggested.

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8foot7
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by 8foot7 » Tue May 28, 2019 3:05 pm

I'll amend my earlier decision.
If I could pay the Italian municipality directly the fine, then I would do so if I knew that it was me.
If this isn't possible because the municipality sold the debt to the collection agency, I would then offer the agency about 20 cents on the dollar in a "I don't admit this is mine but I'll pay you to go away" sense and allow them to take it or leave it.
If this isn't possible because the collection agency has some exclusive assignment with the debt for a while, then I'd tell the municipality to get back in touch with me when they were next legally permitted to accept my direct payment and I would resolve the debt in full.
In no event would I pay the full amount to the collection agency.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue May 28, 2019 3:27 pm

8foot7 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:33 pm
I would be highly inclined to ignore this. In fact, I'm sure I would.
Agreed. This is Italy we're talking about.

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DanMahowny
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by DanMahowny » Tue May 28, 2019 3:31 pm

8foot7 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:33 pm
I would be highly inclined to ignore this. In fact, I'm sure I would.
Yup. Me too.
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dewey
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by dewey » Tue May 28, 2019 3:47 pm

We had a similar fine from driving in Italy many years ago but we didn't receive a notice of the fine until 9 months later. That was weird enough but I'm told the Italian bureaucracy grinds slowly. In our case the fine was sent to us by the municipality, not a collection agency. They claimed to have a photo of us driving through an exit ramp without paying the toll. I had trouble paying the fee using their machine and no one was there to help. But the arm lifted so we assumed the payment was made and we went on our merry way. I paid the fine which I believe was just under $100.00. They tracked our contact information via the rental car.
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MtnTraveler
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by MtnTraveler » Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm

Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot. If you will absolutely never return to Europe in your lifetime than I guess you could get away with not paying it but the fact it's with a debt collector is another issue entirely. While you didn't receive the ticket because you moved I find it highly unlikely that the rental car company did not charge you after the fact for having to research who had the car at that time and provide it to authorities. While it wouldn't have been a huge charge it would have been there. I know this as it's how I found out I got a traffic ticket in Australia when Hertz charged my credit card a month after the trip and I called asking about the charge.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue May 28, 2019 3:55 pm

MtnTraveler wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm
Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot.
I strongly doubt this.

ronno2018
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by ronno2018 » Tue May 28, 2019 4:01 pm

Double check it is real and pay it.

I had a French ticket from an automated speed camera/radar trap in Brittany and I paid it right away.

I am in the EU somewhere every year or two and I do not want any hassles when entering.

Some harsh discussion here -- https://community.ricksteves.com/travel ... rental-car

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Starfish » Tue May 28, 2019 4:36 pm

boglesmind wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm

When I travel abroad, I cringe when *some* fellow Americans act in a manner not consistent with the host country's rules/values. If you don't like those rules, may I suggest staying home?

I think the number of people willfully ignoring the host country's rules is very small. Most of them just don't know and don't understand how different are these rules.

Driving is an obvious example. For some reason people who drive in US think that they can drive in Europe. Nothing further from the truth! Everything is different, from the rules of the road or the signs to the way laws are applied and enforced (for example cameras are very frequent in some countries).
It's a mistake that the driving licenses are recognized across the world - at least for tourists - without a minimum of training (*). At least a theoretical test is necessary. My feeling is that a lot of people land in countries like Italy without even expecting to meed any different rules than in US and they try to wing it.
If they manage to make it back without an accident hey start googling the laws only when they receive the tickets.

____
* When I've got my license I went through 30h of mandatory driving school and a test comprised of a very tough timed theoretical section that was failed by the majority of the candidates and a 2 part driving test (closed course and street).

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8foot7
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by 8foot7 » Tue May 28, 2019 4:42 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:55 pm
MtnTraveler wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm
Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot.
I strongly doubt this.
I would love to find a single instance of this happening.

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fortfun
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by fortfun » Tue May 28, 2019 4:53 pm

This is why I decided to only use the train and subway on our Europe trip last summer. I read about some poor American lost in Rome, proceeding to do circles in a historic zone and ending up with several thousand in tickets.

lostdog
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by lostdog » Tue May 28, 2019 5:10 pm

Might be a scam?
VTWAX and chill.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by barnaclebob » Tue May 28, 2019 5:21 pm

Invest_Wisely wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 12:59 pm
My wife and I visited Italy during our honeymoon 2 years ago and rented a vehicle for a portion of our trip. During our travels, we were aware of certain Restricted Traffic Zones for the inner city areas and carefully avoided with our rental vehicle. Upon returning to the U.S., we moved together to a new residence.

Fast forward two years later to today...

I received a letter from a U.S.-based debt collector Cedar Financial in the amount of $462 for a photo ticket we were apparently issued while in Italy but never actually received (likely because the ticket was sent to our old address). The original ticket was around $250 USD but the debt collectors have added another $212 in penalties, notification, and procedural costs.

Although I'm annoyed I have no legal recourse to contest, if I legitimately incurred this penalty, I'm happy to pay the fine. So I called the debt collector and offered to pay only the fine to settle, but after four attempts they kept putting me on hold and hanging up on me. In all honesty, the whole thing feels fishy.

$500 isn't the end of the world to us (we have no debt and a fully funded 3-6 month emergency fund), but it's still $500. I'm not just going to give away $500.

What would you all recommend I do here? I've tried contacting the Italian government directly to pay the original ticket, but they tell me the ticket is now in collections with Cedar Financial. I've never had debt and I've never had to deal with debt collectors. The last thing I want is this affecting my credit score since we will be looking to buy a house within the next year or two.
NEVER volunteer to pay debt until the collectors jump through the hoops to prove its yours. You possibly reset the clock when you offered to pay.

mpnret
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by mpnret » Tue May 28, 2019 5:39 pm

Curiosity got the best of me so I googled "Italian traffic ticket in Siena" just to see if it was a scam. You may want to do the same. It looks legit and tons of people are having the same problem. I bet if you check your credit card charges from back then you will find your car rental agency even charged you up to 50 EU admin cost for providing your info to the police. In my limited reading the general concensus was to pay. You may dig deeper and find otherwise.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue May 28, 2019 5:41 pm

dewey wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:47 pm
We had a similar fine from driving in Italy many years ago but we didn't receive a notice of the fine until 9 months later. That was weird enough but I'm told the Italian bureaucracy grinds slowly. In our case the fine was sent to us by the municipality, not a collection agency. They claimed to have a photo of us driving through an exit ramp without paying the toll. I had trouble paying the fee using their machine and no one was there to help. But the arm lifted so we assumed the payment was made and we went on our merry way. I paid the fine which I believe was just under $100.00. They tracked our contact information via the rental car.
Five years ago we were also awarded the "you were driving in a restricted zone in Italy" mailing. We were fined $100 Euros or about $125 back then, plus another $35 ding from our rental car agency who charged us that fee because they had to pull our file and turn it over to the taxing authorities. At first I was not going to pay it, but then thought if I plan on making a trip to an EU participating country I might have a problem with customs. Paid it and am done with it, I think! Never know, knowing my luck they may come back years later and say they never got the money. :shock:
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Jags4186 » Tue May 28, 2019 5:47 pm

boglesmind wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm
I am surprised at the many suggestions to ignore the ticket. I thought Bogleheads forum rules prohibit suggestions such as this.

I received traffic tickets in Europe in the past and promptly paid them. It makes no difference if the traffic ticket is issued in the U.S or abroad as long as I am sure it is legitimate. From my PoV, I don't think it is justifiable to evade a foreign traffic ticket but pay a U.S. ticket. The consequences or lack thereof should not steer one's decision, IMHO. Your compass may point in a different direction.
That’s where we got our ticket, Siena! If it makes you feel any better, I knew we were in a restricted zone because there was only about 6 inches on either side of our car as we went down one street and we were getting massive dirty looks for pedestrians.
When I travel abroad, I cringe when *some* fellow Americans act in a manner not consistent with the host country's rules/values. If you don't like those rules, may I suggest staying home? Would I tolerate some tourist from another country spitting in public or throwing litter or incur a traffic ticket here and not pay it? No double standards please. Why would I drive through a ZTL zone realizing that only a few inches of space is left on either side of the car? If you didn't know, then you just pay the ticket. We spent more than 3 weeks in Italy and fully researched the issues with driving there. We took the trains and metro/tram/bus/Vaporetto, leaving the driving to others and enjoyed our vacation!

I suggest Italians get Google/twitter guys to help set up a real-time system to notify the rental car companies as soon as violations occur and charge the renter's credit card at the end of the rental period.

I absolutely don't mean to preach. Please take it in the right spirit.

Boglesmind

PS; Pay the municipality and ignore the US collections agency as one of the posters suggested.
Thanks, but it wasn’t intentional for us to be driving down those streets. What happens is you make a turn on what looks like a normal street that becomes narrower and narrower until you realize you’re not where you should be. At that point it’s impossible to back out because people are walking behind your car so you are forced to go forward.

pivoprussia
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by pivoprussia » Tue May 28, 2019 6:14 pm

A very simple google search of the collection company show it is legit and they do NOT buy the debt, only service it.

When and if you decline to pay they basically send it back to Italy to decide the next step. That really is the question:
what will they do if you do not pay? Hard to imagine they would file a suit over this amount. More likely it could cause issues
if you decided to return for another visit.

Not my money but if I were in the same situation I'd probably be irritated but go ahead and pay. But only because we travel
frequently to Europe.

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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue May 28, 2019 6:23 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:55 pm
MtnTraveler wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm
Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot.
I strongly doubt this.
This amounts to a bet against the efficiency of the Italian police. I would say that you are likely to win the bet. BUT. If you lose- and an Italian policemen happens to be having a bad day- you could be in for a very unpleasant time.
fortfun wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 4:53 pm
This is why I decided to only use the train and subway on our Europe trip last summer. I read about some poor American lost in Rome, proceeding to do circles in a historic zone and ending up with several thousand in tickets.
I was once on the train from the Rome train station to the airport. The ticket machine was broken so it was difficult to get tickets. One passenger did not get one, I guess figuring that worst case he could buy it on the train.

The conductor came around, and gave the passenger the choice between getting off at the next station and paying a few hundred euros of penalty.

Italy is a wonderful country with mostly wonderful people. But get on the wrong side of a petty official and you will have a very bad day.

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ChowYunPhat
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by ChowYunPhat » Tue May 28, 2019 7:01 pm

This. Only way to know for sure if the debt was settled. Collection agent has disincentive to help you with this.
scubadiver wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:01 pm
At this point, are you certain that paying the debt owed to the collections agency will clear your name with the Italian municipality that issued the ticket? For some reason, I doubt that. So, if clearing your good name is important to you, try reaching out to the municipality were the infraction occurred and settling directly with them. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother with the collections agency. They took a risk in buying the "bad debt" on the hope that they could collect the funds. They bet poorly.
A wise man and his money are friends forever...

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J G Bankerton
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by J G Bankerton » Wed May 29, 2019 8:12 am

boglesmind wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm
PS; Pay the municipality and ignore the US collections agency as one of the posters suggested.
The town no longer owns the debt so they can't settle it.

boglesmind
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by boglesmind » Wed May 29, 2019 10:16 am

J G Bankerton wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:12 am
boglesmind wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm
PS; Pay the municipality and ignore the US collections agency as one of the posters suggested.
The town no longer owns the debt so they can't settle it.
Please see
pivoprussia wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:14 pm
A very simple google search of the collection company show it is legit and they do NOT buy the debt, only service it.
When and if you decline to pay they basically send it back to Italy to decide the next step. That really is the question:
Boglesmind

cherijoh
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by cherijoh » Wed May 29, 2019 11:00 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:23 pm
SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:55 pm
MtnTraveler wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm
Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot.
I strongly doubt this.
This amounts to a bet against the efficiency of the Italian police. I would say that you are likely to win the bet. BUT. If you lose- and an Italian policemen happens to be having a bad day- you could be in for a very unpleasant time.
fortfun wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 4:53 pm
This is why I decided to only use the train and subway on our Europe trip last summer. I read about some poor American lost in Rome, proceeding to do circles in a historic zone and ending up with several thousand in tickets.
I was once on the train from the Rome train station to the airport. The ticket machine was broken so it was difficult to get tickets. One passenger did not get one, I guess figuring that worst case he could buy it on the train.

The conductor came around, and gave the passenger the choice between getting off at the next station and paying a few hundred euros of penalty.

Italy is a wonderful country with mostly wonderful people. But get on the wrong side of a petty official and you will have a very bad day.
I think that is true for petty officials in all countries. :wink:

I was in France earlier this month. I bought a train ticket at the ticket office in the train station since I was leery of trying the automated ticket machine. They printed something similar to an old-fashioned airline boarding pass on card stock. When I got to the track, I was supposed to validate my ticket (with either a QR code or a bar code at a reader). An SCNF employee tried to help me, but he couldn't get it to work either so he badged me through the gate. On the train, the ticket checker came around and started to berate me in French for not validating my ticket. I gave the "I give up gesture" and told her in French "je ne comprend pas; je ne parle Francais" and she grumbled and moved on to the next person.

I clearly had a valid ticket (just not a common one) that had been purchased 15 minutes before the train departed, so I wasn't reusing an old ticket. I figured she was just throwing her weight around. I purchased the rest of my train tickets using an app on my phone and would have shown the QR code except that my ticket wasn't checked again on any of the regional trains (just the TGV ones).

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J G Bankerton
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by J G Bankerton » Wed May 29, 2019 4:54 pm

boglesmind wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:16 am
J G Bankerton wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:12 am
boglesmind wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:40 pm
PS; Pay the municipality and ignore the US collections agency as one of the posters suggested.
The town no longer owns the debt so they can't settle it.
Please see
pivoprussia wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:14 pm
A very simple google search of the collection company show it is legit and they do NOT buy the debt, only service it.
When and if you decline to pay they basically send it back to Italy to decide the next step. That really is the question:
Boglesmind
How does Cedar get paid, by the hour? Something stinks but ripping off foreigners is common all over the world.

I got a parking ticket in Toronto. The signs were intentionally confusing on a side street by a known tourist hotel. I paid because I didn't want to cause an international incident.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed May 29, 2019 5:05 pm

I rent Euro car and got speed ticket on Autobahn, yes autobahn. The fine was directly deducted form my credit card from car rental company. The second time I visited Eurpoe, I ride train. hehe, no speeding ticket.

3504PIR
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by 3504PIR » Wed May 29, 2019 6:01 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:55 pm
MtnTraveler wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:52 pm
Any country that is apart of the Schengen zone (majority of Europe) will likely detain you when you try to enter that country if you do not pay the traffic ticket and you will be forced to pay the ticket plus interest on the spot.
I strongly doubt this.
Really? I wouldn't doubt it anymore after ending up on the national drivers registry recently for something that was over 30 years ago. The world is increasingly connected and things like the Patriot Act, for example have narrowed it a lot. In the case of the OP, they can put a pretty solid dent in his/her credit report, if that matters to them.

Do not be surprised if things like this come back to haunt you later on, probably at the worst possible time in your life.

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southerndoc
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by southerndoc » Wed May 29, 2019 6:08 pm

Who did you rent with? In general, fines are paid by the rental company if you didn't pay. They are responsible for the vehicle. If you rented with a company that has a US presence, then you can suffer consequences for not paying your debt.

Have you pulled your credit report to see what's on it yet?

riverguy
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by riverguy » Wed May 29, 2019 6:19 pm

Just one of many reasons not to drive in a foreign country.

ronno2018
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by ronno2018 » Wed May 29, 2019 6:22 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 5:05 pm
I rent Euro car and got speed ticket on Autobahn, yes autobahn. The fine was directly deducted form my credit card from car rental company. The second time I visited Eurpoe, I ride train. hehe, no speeding ticket.
Were you driving a white maxima? :sharebeer

catalina355
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by catalina355 » Wed May 29, 2019 7:01 pm

riverguy wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 6:19 pm
Just one of many reasons not to drive in a foreign country.
What are the other reasons?

BarbBrooklyn
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by BarbBrooklyn » Wed May 29, 2019 7:06 pm

I would post this question on the Rick Steves site and on Trip Advisor.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."

jminv
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by jminv » Wed May 29, 2019 7:33 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:17 pm
TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy? It’s basically a parking ticket, not like you would get arrested for it.
Like the United States, I would assume having unpaid tickets would eventually lead to a warrant for your arrest and likely for you to be grabbed the second you get try to go through passport control. Not sure if you’ve ever been to Italy but the national pastime is scamming people (joking...well maybe not). Do you want to get held at customs and then get told theres a $10,000 fine you need to pay before they let you go?
That’s not a good assumptionz It’s not a good idea to assume anything works in another country like it does in the USA or vice versa. Traffic fine information is not sent to immigration and traffic fines are not a criminal offense. They don’t arrest people for going into restricted zone areas. It’s more of a spray and pray with the debt collectors. Normally it’s an easy tourist tax since the rental car should have the card and file which makes everything automatic. Not in this case it seems.

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.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some enterprising scammers branch out and send these notices to the USA via databases they’ve bought. Pretty easy if you have a database of rentals and don’t think that they’re beyond it. Normally this stuff is just charged to your card on file so a little skepticism is in order.

martint
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by martint » Wed May 29, 2019 8:05 pm

It’s my understanding a foreign traffic ticket cannot be put on your credit report. There is zero probability this would cause Schengan entry/exit problems.

You said you moved, right? So there’s a very small probability an Italian traffic officer in Siena would tie John Smith, Siena ZTL violator, 123 Main St USA to John Smith 567 Wall St USA in a traffic stop. If you’re outside of Tuscany the probability drops to zero.

Ignore it.

(I’m following this thread to see if there are any eventual updates).

boglesmind
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by boglesmind » Thu May 30, 2019 1:28 pm

jminv wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 7:33 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:17 pm
TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy? It’s basically a parking ticket, not like you would get arrested for it.
Like the United States, I would assume having unpaid tickets would eventually lead to a warrant for your arrest and likely for you to be grabbed the second you get try to go through passport control. Not sure if you’ve ever been to Italy but the national pastime is scamming people (joking...well maybe not). Do you want to get held at customs and then get told theres a $10,000 fine you need to pay before they let you go?
That’s not a good assumptionz It’s not a good idea to assume anything works in another country like it does in the USA or vice versa. Traffic fine information is not sent to immigration and traffic fines are not a criminal offense. They don’t arrest people for going into restricted zone areas. It’s more of a spray and pray with the debt collectors. Normally it’s an easy tourist tax since the rental car should have the card and file which makes everything automatic. Not in this case it seems.
Really? A few years back my colleagues at work were stopped at passport control and required to pay the traffic fines before being allowed to proceed. This happened in the Netherlands and Germany.

Boglesmind

cherijoh
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by cherijoh » Thu May 30, 2019 1:38 pm

martint wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:05 pm
It’s my understanding a foreign traffic ticket cannot be put on your credit report. There is zero probability this would cause Schengan entry/exit problems.

You said you moved, right? So there’s a very small probability an Italian traffic officer in Siena would tie John Smith, Siena ZTL violator, 123 Main St USA to John Smith 567 Wall St USA in a traffic stop. If you’re outside of Tuscany the probability drops to zero.

Ignore it.

(I’m following this thread to see if there are any eventual updates).
It would depend on whether Hertz (or which ever rental car agency provided the Italian's with your passport number.

Theratking
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by Theratking » Thu May 30, 2019 1:44 pm

I travel all of the time. If this were legit the rental car company would have adjusted your bill and you would have paid the fine. What is the statute of limitations for this infraction? I doubt it would be 2 years. I would contact the credit bureau and contest if it was on my credit report.

I don't know that I would pay as there are a lot of scams both here and abroad with debt collectors. I would simply argue that I did not do it.

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8foot7
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Re: Italian traffic fine with U.S. debt collector

Post by 8foot7 » Thu May 30, 2019 1:50 pm

boglesmind wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 1:28 pm
jminv wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 7:33 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:17 pm
TropikThunder wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:14 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 1:04 pm
My mother, an attorney, asked me what to do. I simply said to her “do you plan on going back to Italy? If so we pay it, if not throw it in the trash.” I would offer the same advice to you.
Why would it matter if one were ever going back to Italy? It’s basically a parking ticket, not like you would get arrested for it.
Like the United States, I would assume having unpaid tickets would eventually lead to a warrant for your arrest and likely for you to be grabbed the second you get try to go through passport control. Not sure if you’ve ever been to Italy but the national pastime is scamming people (joking...well maybe not). Do you want to get held at customs and then get told theres a $10,000 fine you need to pay before they let you go?
That’s not a good assumptionz It’s not a good idea to assume anything works in another country like it does in the USA or vice versa. Traffic fine information is not sent to immigration and traffic fines are not a criminal offense. They don’t arrest people for going into restricted zone areas. It’s more of a spray and pray with the debt collectors. Normally it’s an easy tourist tax since the rental car should have the card and file which makes everything automatic. Not in this case it seems.
Really? A few years back my colleagues at work were stopped at passport control and required to pay the traffic fines before being allowed to proceed. This happened in the Netherlands and Germany.

Boglesmind
How were they traveling in order to hit any sort of passport check between Netherlands and Germany? Or they got fines in both the Netherlands and Germany in the past, and then on two separate occasions were stopped incoming at customs in each country? Or (even more unbelievably) did one of the country's customs office enforce a traffic fine from another EU country? Sorry, having a hard time with this one.

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