Oh heavens no! Tell me it ain’t so! A state agency making a mistake?
Of course we know state government agencies make mistakes all the time. And federal government agencies do, too. But in this case, how do we know that the state is not making yet another mistake now? How does this woman know they miscalculated again and they really owe her money? Well, until the state coughs up all the original calculations, and explains how they were wrong then, and what they should have been, back then, we just won’t know one way or the other.
If this were happening to me, I’d treat it like any other undocumented debt … except for the fact that this is very unlikely to be a scammer since the state was contacted already and they admit to claiming this debt. If it is in fact a genuine debt, it can be paid directly to the state.
What I would do is demand full validation of the debt. But I would go beyond merely the kind of bogus validation the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (which doesn’t apply here, anyway) allows for to defer debt collection. I would demand the state prove they made the original mistake by showing the original calculations that were in error, and the corrected calculations that come up with the $73 difference, and cite state laws that support the corrected calculations. I would also demand documentation how it is the original error was allowed to happen in the first place and what methods were put in place to ensure that kind of mistake could not happen again. And I would demand documentation of what efforts were made at the time the mistake was discovered to ask for the money back. These demands would all be done through the legal process.
I do believe in paying one’s debts. But I also believe in making absolutely and positively sure the debt is correct (and in the case of debt collectors, see proof that the collector claiming it really owns the debt … which is actually quite rare).