3 On Your Side

Woman sent to collections for a $1,400 she doesn't owe

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Judie DeLong said she was sent to a debt collector for a bill she didn't owe. (Source: 3TV) Judie DeLong said she was sent to a debt collector for a bill she didn't owe. (Source: 3TV)
She had paid the original bill and saw her credit score return to normal. (Source: 3TV) She had paid the original bill and saw her credit score return to normal. (Source: 3TV)
But then she got another notice from another debt collector saying she owed Rural Metro more money. (Source: 3TV) But then she got another notice from another debt collector saying she owed Rural Metro more money. (Source: 3TV)
This bill was for more than $1,455. (Source: 3TV) This bill was for more than $1,455. (Source: 3TV)
3 On Your Side got involved and asked Rural Metro to review DeLong’s account. (Source: 3TV) 3 On Your Side got involved and asked Rural Metro to review DeLong’s account. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Judie DeLong spends a lot of her time homeschooling her children. But, instead of teaching her kids, much of her time is being spent trying to resolve a $1,455 bill that she says she doesn't owe.

"It would be nice to put this bed or to rest and say goodbye," DeLong told 3 On Your Side.

Her billing problem started back in 2016 when she fainted and she fell to the ground inside her Cave Creek home.

“I fell pretty much full force from a standing position to the travertine floor. I had bruises on the side of my face," she recalled from her injuries.

As a result, DeLong’s family called for an ambulance and that's when Rural Metro transported her to a hospital.

The good news is her injuries at the time were minor and DeLong was released and went back home.

“Did you ever get a bill for the ambulance ride?" Gary Harper asked her.

"No,” she replied.

[SPECIAL SECTION: 3 On Your Side]

Instead of sending her a bill, DeLong says Rural Metro sent her to a debt collector who mailed her a notice demanding payment for that ambulance ride. DeLong says she remembers getting the collections letter in the mail. She immediately paid the bill, but by then her credit score had plummeted 200 points.

"I come from a financial services background so credit is very important,” she said. “Mine has always been in the 800s."

After paying the bill, DeLong’s credit score spiked back to where it was and she thought the ordeal was over.

That is, until recently when she walked out to check her mail and got another notice from another debt collector saying she owed Rural Metro more money. This time, the amount had ballooned to more than $1,455.

DeLong couldn't believe it and contacted 3 On Your Side for help.

"I watch your reports all the time and see that you get things done. And, this seemed to be right up your alley because I was being charged for something I had paid for in full," she said.

3 On Your Side got involved and asked Rural Metro to review DeLong’s account.

They did and realized they made a mistake. As a result, Rural Metro zeroed out DeLong's balance and removed her from collections.

DeLong says she owes it all to 3 On Your Side.

"I slept really good. And, I'm going to sleep really good. I'm so very happy and very pleased," she said.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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