Patrice Perry, who claims she received harassing phone calls from Capital One for months over a mistaken entry on her credit card debt, is suing the lender, according to a report from the Philadelphia Daily News. The company initiallyclaimed that Perry owed it $4,807 in May 2009, and subsequent bills, which arrived infrequently, saw that total fluctuate wildly. She never paid the first bill out of principle, and was confused when the next one arrived two months later showing a lower total.
It wasn't until the bill said Perry, a hotel clerk, had $286,651,237 in credit card debt with the company that she decided to take legal action, the report said. The accompanying letter asked that the payment be sent in a provided envelope and said the lender would sue her if she did not pay.
"It's not your typical scenario, where you'd expect if they were pursing debt with interest it would only go up," Craig Kimmel, Perry's attorney, told the newspaper. "It went down and up and down and up. The only thing I can associate with that is that they were trying to confuse my client."
The suit is seeking the same $286 million figure in damages, the report said. In particular, Kimmel points out that because the bill was so excessively large, it would have to have been approved by actual humans, rather than being automatically processed by a computer. A Capital One spokeswoman said that it was very likely the bill was sent as a result of human error, and that the company is working to correct the problem. However, the lawsuit alleges that Capital One engaged in "terroristic debt-collection methods" over the course of the ordeal.
A report on the case from the Consumerist said that Perry initially disputed the charges and asked that the lender deal directly with her lawyer, but that it continued to contact her and her family members about the erroneous debt. In addition, Capital One attempted to bring Perry to court, but no one from the company, nor anyone representing it, ever showed up for the scheduled hearing.