LEMONT – When Joseph O’Malley of Lemont received the letter from Municipal Collections of America, he thought it was a scam.
The letter said his wife owed the Village of Lemont $13.50 for an unpaid parking ticket from 1994.
O’Malley, a retired Cook County deputy sheriff, said his initial thought was “maybe this is some kind of scam to get your credit cards or something.”
He went to the village hall to inquire about the letter and was told it was legitimate.
Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy said the village switched to the new collection agency last year.
“We just went to a company that would be a little more aggressive,” he said.
Jeff Wood, president of Municipal Collections of America, said it is possible for a person to receive a notice this old on an unpaid parking ticket.
“There are no statutes of limitations on parking tickets, and we just follow what our client desires on how far back they go,” he said.
O’Malley said he then called the collection agency to see if he could contest the ticket.
He said he could not remember receiving the ticket and that he was sure he would have paid it if he had received it.
O’Malley said the woman with the agency was argumentative with him and hung up on him when he said he “was going to make a big thing out of this.”
“She was telling me I was wasting my time,” he said.
Wood said it is difficult for people to contest parking tickets once the notice from the debt collector has been sent.
Municipalities typically request his company sends out the notices after they have given the ticket recipient a chance to contest the ticket and have heard nothing, he said.
When Shaughnessy heard about O’Malley’s complaint, he contacted him to see if he could resolve the issue.
“I told him due to the circumstances, I would ask the administrator to dismiss it,” Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy said he made the decision because of the unusually long time since O’Malley received the ticket.
“We’ve received one or two calls for four- or five-year-old parking tickets, but not like this,” he said.
O’Malley said he was very pleased that Shaughnessy took the time to personally deal with his complaint.
“The chief was real nice, and I’m glad that it worked out,” he said.