A recent college grad received a rude surprise -- a $2,000 bill that didn't belong to him. Acting on bad advice, he struggled for nearly two years handling this on his own.
Then he finally turned to 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney for help.
Joshua Ojigho is like many recent college graduates.
He's anxious to build good credit.
When he received a mysterious bill for $2,000, he was shocked. "It was fishy. From the very beginning, it was fishy," said Joshua.
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The credit bill came from Synchrony Bank, an online financial institution based out of Connecticut.
Joshua called the company. "He said my name was attached to it and he said it would impact my credit score negatively if I didn't pay it. So I thought, alright."
Suzanne Martindale is a staff attorney at Consumer's Union. She was stunned to hear the advice Joshua received.
"Whoever was representing the financial institution who recommended that he pay the charges was giving very bad advice," she said.
Looking back, Joshua knew he should have done more to fight it.
"Maybe I should talk to the police about it. That didn't happen. I ended up paying off the bill and moving forward with my life," he said.
Joshua paid off the entire debt in about 18 months, but not without great sacrifice.
"To have to pay a debt that wasn't even mine made it so I couldn't put food on the table at times."
After he paid it off, the bank sent him this notice advising him the "the claim has been resolved in your favor."
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"All charges have been removed."
Joshua didn't know it, but when he first called Synchrony questioning the bill, they started a claim and had been investigating this case all along.
Joshua and the bank both suspect identity theft.
He waited almost a month for his $2,000 to be refunded.
When he didn't hear anything, he reached out to 7 On Your Side and we contacted the bank.
Joshua says after that, he heard from the bank and received his refund.
Synchrony told us, "Our customer service team provides a fair, thorough and timely response to customer inquiries in accordance with all rules and regulations."
It did not answer our questions about the advice given to Joshua to pay off the charges.
"You guys are all-stars. I don't know how you did it, but I really appreciate all your hard work," Joshua said.
Consumers Union adds that if you receive calls from a debt collector on a bill you don't owe, you have the legal right to dispute it and request that the debt collector stop contacting you.
Written and produced by Randall Yip
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College grad receives $2K bill that didn't belong to him
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