Dear ABC News Fixer: Bill Me Later Mystery

Dear James: I've got good news and bad news...

June 14, 2013 — -- Dear ABC News Fixer: I charged several things on my Bill Me Later account; I believe it was late in 2012. I immediately paid the bills when I received them.

Then a strange thing happened. I continued to receive emails and paper bills from Bill Me Later about another payment due. But I hadn't charged anything.

The bill was for $18.99, but when I checked my account online, it said $0 was due.

The next month there was another email and statement. This time, I was absolutely sure I hadn't charged anything, since I rarely use Bill Me Later. Again I checked my account online, and it said $0 due, no charges, and my account was in good standing.

Then I noticed that the account number on the bill was different than the account number on my online statements, even though my name and address were the same. I filed a fraud claim stating this was not my account and my real account was in good standing.

They said they would get back to me. That was March 1. Since then, I have received daily calls from them trying to collect, frequent letters offering me a payment plan, and $35 in late fees every month on the fraudulent account, which is suspended and now has over $200 due. Please help me.

- James Nachman, Kansas City, Mo.

Dear James: The ABC News Fixer loves a mystery, and you sure had one.

The good news is you are not the victim of identity theft.

The bad news is you did charge something for $18.99.

Here's what we learned when we asked the people at PayPal, Bill Me Now's parent, to try to untangle this mess:

Apparently, last summer, when you moved to your new place and updated your account, there was some sort of discrepancy in the information. The Bill Me Later supervisor who talked to you about this last week didn't elaborate, but whatever it was, it caused a new account to be opened with a new number.

You never knew about this, though, and you didn't use Bill Me Later very often.

At some point, you did buy a Polartec jacket on eBay and billed it to Bill Me Later; that was the mysterious $18.99 charge. When you got the paper bill and then went online to check, you were looking at your old account, which of course had no Polartec jacket on it and thus had a zero balance.

You said you did pay the $18.99 when it came as a paper bill, but for whatever reason that wasn't reflected on the new account, which kept amassing late fees. (Most likely, it was posted to your old account, which you said went from a $0 balance to an $18.99 credit at one point.)

Thankfully, Bill Me Now has put a stop to this. They've closed both accounts (and you declined to reopen one, since you don't use the service very often). The ending balance on both has been set to "zero," so you are now officially off the hook.

The last bit of good news is Bill Me Now told you that no negative info was reported to the credit bureaus, so your record was not harmed by this episode.

- The ABC News Fixer

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