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Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

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It’s bad enough when you can’t pay a debt and you know that it’s going to damage your credit for years to come. But what about when a single debt multiplies, turning into two, three or even more negative items on your credit reports? “I see these ‘double jeopardy’ tradelines all the time,” says Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network. He goes on to explain how it works:

You fall behind on an account and your creditor charges off your account. Your credit report lists a charge off, which is very negative. Then the creditor sells the debt to a collection agency who also reports it as a collection account. Now you have two negative accounts on your credit reports. So that’s strike number two against you, but it’s not illegal. But if the original creditor sold the debt to a collection agency, then it should not continue to report a balance owed. “That’s double the damage and is not permitted,” he says.

One of our readers, I’ll call her “Trish,” fell behind on three credit cards a few years ago. Her credit reports now list fourteen collection accounts for those three debts. She says she’s spent countless hours trying to figure out who she owes, and how much she owes, so she can pay the balances and put this behind her.  She’s not trying to avoid her debts, but she also doesn’t want to pay several different collection agencies for the same debt.

“I’ve never felt so held captive by anything in my life as I do with my credit,” she says.

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Four consumer law attorneys with expertise in credit reporting and debt collection issues weighed in with advice for Trish, and for consumers with similar problems.

Step One: Request Validation of the Debts. “My first suggestion would be to send validation letters (via certified mail or other confirmation delivery method) to each one of the debt collectors on her credit report asking them to identify the original creditor, current owner of the account, current balance and date of last payment,” says Jason M. Rapa, a Pennsylvania consumer law attorney.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors must send the consumer a written notice of the debt within 5 days of initial contact with you, adds William Howard, founder and managing partner of the consumer protection division at Morgan & Morgan. Then, the consumer has thirty days to request verification of the debt. If the consumer requests verification of the debt, the collection agency should provide enough information to establish that the debt is legitimate and accurate. “They shouldn’t give you some computer printout that doesn’t really tell you anything,” he adds.

Trish told me that she has requested verification of the debt from some of the collectors and received confusing information. One collector listed the original creditor as “Cache” — a name she doesn’t recognize. That’s not surprising to Howard. “A lot of these debt collectors will buy these debts but they don’t have documentation to back it up,” he warns.

[Related Article: 8 Things Debt Collectors Won't Tell You]

Step Two: Dispute collection accounts that don’t appear accurate. Rapa recommends Trish sent dispute letters (again by delivery confirmation) to any of the debt collectors who have responded with information that doesn’t appear accurate or is unfamiliar. “The letter does not have to be fancy or detailed but must state that the individual disputes the debt,” he says. This dispute then requires the debt collector to list the account as disputed on the credit report, a notation that reduces the harmful effect of the trade-line on the consumer’s credit score. If the debt collector fails to mark the account as disputed, the consumer has a cause of action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).”

Step Three: Go to the source. If these steps don’t help Trish figure out which collection agencies she should pay, she can talk to a consumer law attorney for help. Or she may want to try another approach, says Sonya Valentine, President of Financially Fierce, LLC — a company that provides financial education for companies, organizations and consumers. She suggests the following:

Do some quick research for the headquarters address for the original creditors. Send a letter to the Office of the President at the creditor’s headquarters address asking for help in determining if the creditor still owns the debt or if they sold the debt, what company did they sell it to. Instead of dealing with customer service, you will usually receive a response from management. This person usually has the authority to provide information and/or resolve your problem. Then you can either resolve your debt with the original creditor if they still own the debt or contact the collection agency that the debt was sold to.

Another option is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and/or state attorney general’s office consumer protection division. “Most AG’s offices will assist you in dealing with the collection agencies and will often contact the collection agencies on your behalf,” Valentine explains.

If Trish can figure out which collectors she actually owes, and can resolve the debts with them, then she can send letters to the others explaining that she has paid the debt, adds Valentine.

[Related Article: To Pay or Not to Pay? The Question of Old Debts]

Credit Report Repair 

What about her credit reports, though? Even if Trish pays the debts she owes and tells the other collectors to take a hike, she’s still got 14 collection accounts on her credit reports when her reports should only list three. Is there any hope of getting all the others removed?

None of the attorneys I consulted thought she would just have to live with the situation. Robert Brennan, a Southern California consumer law attorney says that “if the same account is reported multiple times, that’s an FCRA violation.”

Trish can dispute the inaccurate collection accounts with the credit reporting agencies, says Howard. “Once you dispute it, then the crucial 30-day clock begins to tick.” He’s referring to the thirty days that the credit reporting agencies have to investigate and respond to a dispute under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

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Rapa recommends Trish send dispute letters via confirmed delivery to the credit reporting agencies. She should identify the inaccurate information, explain why it is is wrong, provide any supporting documentation and state that it should be removed. “A copy of the same letter should be sent to the debt collector(s) via confirmed delivery,” he says. “If the information published on the credit report is demonstrably inaccurate and the debt collector fails to correct or remove the information the consumer may have a cause of action under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).”

If she can’t clear this up on her own, she should consult a consumer law attorney. “If the debt collector has violated the FDCPA or FCRA successful litigation of the consumer’s claims will likely result in monetary compensation, including an award of damages and legal fees and costs, as well as the debt collector removing or correcting the trade-line,” Rapa says. Fortunately, Trish has been keeping good records of her efforts to resolve this. That’s a must-do.

But even if Trish is successful in correcting her credit reports and resolving these debts, she should still monitor her credit reports carefully. “Because of how ‘zombie debt’ changes hands from buyer to buyer, she needs to watch out to make sure new collection accounts don’t show up on her credit reports,” Bovee warns.

Image: slideshow bob, via Flickr

  • Jan Cain

    This situation is very similar to my own. However, on my credit report, the debt buyers have created “personal loans” which I never took and have these as collection items and accrue charges every month, further damaging my credit. How do I prove I never took out any “personal loans” with this company? I am cautious about contacting them because I do not want them to use my words or actions against me or trigger a lawsuit just because I am disputing this.
    Thanks!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jan,

      If the debt buyers are misrepresenting the debt on your credit reports then they are likely breaking the law and I am sure a consumer law attorney will be more than happy to take a look at this for you. If you have a good case, they will likely represent you for free since collection agencies pay the attorney’s fees in cases of FDCPA violations.

      • Jan Cain

        Hi Gerri,
        Thanks for the advice. I pulled my credit reports and LVNV Funding added two “personal loans” in Feb 2012. They already had two listed, so now I have a total of four “personal loans” with these people I never even knew existed. Could it be that they are trying to re-age the debt they bought from the original creditor so the SOL doesn’t expire? I haven’t use any credit since 2007 so these must be from that time period when we endured a major job loss and ended up losing everything. It is hard enough to start over after losing everything much less battle these debt collectors who have many resources at their disposal and can exploit the system to their advantage.
        Thanks for your help, you are a godsend to people with debt problems because you are not judgemental, just helpful.
        Jan

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Jan – I am so glad you have found Credit.com helpful! Do you know what these debts are for? Have you asked the debt collector for written verification of the debt? If not, I would recommend you do so so you can find out if they are even legitimate debts.

          As for your credit reports, they can’t re-age debts for purposes of reporting them. Collection accounts can only remain 7.5 years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. That’s one reason why it is so important to get information about the original debt.

          Finally, what state do you live in? The statute of limitations may have expired on these debts which limits their ability to successfully sue you to collect. It doesn’t change the reporting period but it could give you some negotiating leverage if you wanted to try to work something out with them.

          • jan cain

            Hi Gerri,
            I realize it has been awhile but I ordered and looked carefully again at my credit reports, and, like the woman in your original story, these LVNV accounts are duplicates of other accounts that were sold to collection agencies on my report. I count at least three duplicates and that is just on my Experian report. I am confused, can these same accounts be shown as two separate items on my report? One from the original creditor and one from LVNV? They will fall off in 2014. I understand the concept of disputing but is “duplicate entry” a valid dispute to get one of the items removed if I write to the CRAs?
            Thanks so much,
            Jan

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Jan – Both the original creditor and the collector can report. However, there shouldn’t be more than one collection account for the same debt.

  • ROBBIE

    Hi,
    I had a credit card account that was charged off in june 2008 and the original debt was sold to a collection agency. My credit report no longer lists the original creditor and the charge off. Now most recently a collection agency have been reporting the charge off ammount as past due since April 2012 in my credit report.There is no charge off mentioned in this new reporting.Is this kind of reporting legal? please advice,what are my options.
    thanks
    robbie
    Texas

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Robbie – Charge offs can be reported for seven years so it sounds like you lucked out in that it was dropped from your reports. Collection accounts can remain seven years from when the account was charged off (technically 7 years and 180 days from the date of delinquency leading up to when the account was placed for collection).

      So it sounds like the collection account can still be on your credit reports. The collection agency should be reporting that original date of delinquency though so the account will be removed at the proper time. See if you can tell if that’s the case. If not, dispute it with the credit reporting agency.

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  • cindy wright

    Hi for 7 years now we have been getting calls from a debt collector about a person we don’t even know or heard of iv’e tried to tell the collector we are not the person they are looking for, but they still call to no avail. now my 2nd question we aquired a loan through Sally Mae for our daughter’s college and i cosigned one of the loans no problems with this ,but now Sally Mae wants to collect on a loan for me instead of my daughter’s name. They put the loan in my name not just as a cosigner but as the person going to college. I have not been to college and did not receive any money to do so . What is my recourse, they are now trying to collect ?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Cindy – With regard to our first question, if you can get the name and address of the collector send them a certified letter telling them not to contact you again. If they do, then contact a consumer law attorney who regularly helps consumers who are being harassed by collectors. You may be entitled to damages for harassment.

      With regard to your second question, when you cosign you agree to be 100% responsible for the debt. I am not sure what you mean by they want to collect from you instead of your daughter. Is she willing and able to pay the loan? If not. then they are allowed to try to collect from you. Maybe I am missing something here…?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003407083400 Yadigar

    Richard, if this satellite TV coanmpy is a customer of yours and your business has an account with any or all three of the credit bureaus that you use for reporting past due bills or late payments on all of your customers, you can certainly report the debt. When I owned my collection agency, I would always send a letter to the coanmpy letting them know I was going to report the debt on a specific date this way they had the chance to pay it before I reported it. This worked much of the time but not all of the time. Good luck.

  • Kyla

    There is an original creditor on one of the bureau reports of a credit card account that I need to dispute, that says purchased by lender. But there is no collection agency of this account on this same bureaus report. However, the collection accounts of this same credit card debt are reported on the other two bureau reports. I need to dispute this entire debt, so do I send a letter to only the two bureaus that has the collection accounts on them? And will that take care of the original creditor account that is on one of the bureau reports as purchased by lender? How do I dispute and get this removed from all 3 bureaus? (The original creditor on one and the collection accounts on the other two) And also the collection account that is reported on the other two bureaus..has different account numbers for the same debt. It looks like the first 3 numbers of the account is switched around. Is this a simple grounds to have this wrong account removed from my credit reports all together, if so how do I dispute this to the bureaus?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kyla –

      I am not sure I fully understand your situation, since you didn’t explain why you need to dispute the debt. But it sounds like you have found three errors on your credit reports – one with a creditor and two with collection agencies. I’d suggest as your first step you send a letter to the credit reporting agencies reporting the errors and spell out the mistake. Send your letter certified mail. If that doesn’t resolve it, you can take it up with the collection agencies and the creditor directly. You may want to read: Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

  • Kyla

    Thank you Gerri. I will certainly start there then. My question at this point would be, am I supposed to mail a letter to the two bureaus with the collection accounts (only)? Or do I send the letter to all 3 bureaus (one referencing the original account(on that report), and the other 2 referencing the collection accounts (on the other two reports)? One report says (only) the original creditor account, and the other two reports list (only) the collection accounts. Also, the debt is not mine, and I don’t want the dispute process to cause the collection agency to report the collection account on (the one report that it is not on now(the one with the original creditor on it), and I certainly don’t want them to list the original account on the other two reports(the reports that it is not on), which would probably cause my score to go down even further, before I could get it removed by other measures; like contacting Atty. General or Lawyer.) Should I be concerned about this at all?

  • Kyla

    Gerri -

    And also, when I send the credit bureaus the letter, do I address it to the bureaus(dear experian for example) or address it to the creditor, and to the collection agency (as if I am speaking to the creditor/collection agency), but mail it to the bureaus? Thank you.

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Kyla –

      You are disputing these accounts because they are not yours correct? Did they belong to an ex or someone you know, or are they just appearing on your credit reports or no apparent reason?

      It sounds to me like your first step is to write to the credit reporting agencies reporting the wrong information and address the letter to them. Keep it short and to the point, for example:

      The following accounts are not mine:

      Account #4567 Name of creditor/ balance

      If that doesn’t clear it up then you may have to go to the creditor. Keep good records of your disputes and responses in case there is a problem.

  • Sandy

    Hi Gerri, I have a charged off credit card account as of sept 29 2012. What are my rights to protect myself? I live in IL. The calls and mailing have started. Can this agency who now owns this account sue me? I’m not able to pay anything at this time. What are my options? Thank you in advance for your response.

  • Joseph

    I just received a letter from a collection agency that states that my account was sold to another firm. The original collection agency will continue to service the account. My question is that the account # from the original creditor does not match the account # listed by the collection agency.

    Do I now have a right to question the ownership of the debt? I have a letter from another collection agency (with the correct acct #) that is over a year old with no calls or letters from them since the first correspondence. I would like to pay the debt off but don’t want to pay the wrong party.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      it can get messy when collection accounts change hands. However, since you have something in writing that explains the situation, you probably are OK. I can’t give you legal advice, of course, but it seems that this documentation would help if there is a dispute about whether/whom you paid.

      Of course you’ll want to make sure that the debt isn’t outside the statute of limitations before you start paying on it.

  • Kyla

    Gerri-

    I disputed some erroneous accounts on my credit report, but I don’t remember when I did. According to a recent credit report I ordered it probably was about 2 years ago when I first disputed it to the credit bureaus. And it may have just been one of them i’m not sure. My questions are how long before I can dispute again with the credit bureaus? And if don’t need to dispute again with the credit bureau, who do I dispute with next? the collection agency? original creditor? And if i do dispute again with the bureaus, my reason was because the ‘account was not mine’; do I have to have a different reason in re-disputing? And if so, what other reason can I give that will satisfy a reinvestigation with the bureaus, but that will not “inadvertenly say that it is my account”, when it is not? (For example a reason like ‘Wrong account number’?) That suggests that it is my account and it is not; yet I need to have the bureaus reinvestigate.(30day process) Please help.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kyla,

      There is no limit on how often you can dispute an item. However, some credit repair agencies will try to flood credit reporting agencies with disputes in the hopes that some fall through the cracks and the information will be deleted. For that reason. credit reporting agencies are allowed to refuse to investigate “frivolous” disputes.

      If you there are accounts that are not yours listed on your credit reports and it’s been two years since you last disputed them, I see no reason why you can’t try again. I would suggest you do so in writing to all the CRAs that are reporting the mistakes. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested. You’ll find more information on how to dispute mistakes in this article: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

      If the disputes to the CRAs don’t resolve them matter, then you can go directly to the collection agencies reporting those mistake, using the contact information listed on your reports.

      Let us know how this turns out for you!

  • Kyla

    Gerri-

    Thanks. I will let you all know. Although, now I have one more concern. I recently got a notice in the mail from a collection agency that is on my credit report. The contact information on the report for this collection agency, is different from the dispute contact information on the notice that I received in the mail. I looked them up on BBB and it says the same address that is on the notice I received, but is not the same as the info on my credit report. Could it be that the Credit Bureau has outdated information as far as that collection agency’s address? Because the one on the credit report does not come up on the BBB website for that state. The addresses are similar as in the same state, different cities…but they are not the same. I certainly don’t want to send to the wrong address, or send to the address they have on their notice either, and they send me back a note to say “this is the wrong department” send your dispute to and then give me the one on the credit report or some other address. And I don’t want to send it to the one on my credit report and it is an old address or something. Who’s info should I follow? Should I ask the bureau’s if that is an updated address? Are they going to tell me the truth? Are they going to tip off the collection agency that she’s asking about you’lls address..she must be about to send a dispute letter..? Is the credit bureaus liable and/or legally responsible to have updated contact information? Should I not worry if the Collection agency sent me a notice with a “dispute contact infomation” address, and it is in fact not “where my letter should go”, but just a ploy for them to get more time in the investigation process?
    Thank you.

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Kyla – It could be that they have different addresses for disputing credit report information and for disputing the debt itself. If I were in your shoes, I would send it to the address listed on your credit report, but to be on the safe side, send a copy to the other address and note “Copy” on it. If you send it to the address noted on your credit report then you are following the proper procedures for disputing it. If the collection agency has failed to provide updated information to the CRAs that’s their problem, not yours.

  • Kyla

    Gooood deal. Thank you!

  • Ginny

    Hi, I was sued by collection attorneys representing a large bank. In the begining I didn’t owe that much, but 3 years later after fees and interest I owe thousands more. They have started calling me again since I moved to a different state because they say what I am paying is not sufficient and they want to sue me in the new state too. They sent me papers that weren’t filed in the court. I had to check. I am pretty much at my wits end with these people. I looked at my credit report and I have the bank card listed like I expected, but the lawyer that works for the bank listed me again even using the banks name. Then he updated the report to say that the interest and fees were added on as additional debt. I have called many people trying to get help with this, but I am on disability. The last person who gave me advice was a lawyer who told me not to defend myself against this case and this bank won their judgement by default.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ginny -

      It’s hard for me to understand exactly what it is going on in your situation but it sounds to me like they now have a judgment against you, correct? If so then you are either going to have to try to get the judgment vacated – which is not something that’s easy to do without the help of a lawyer, or figure out a way to settle or pay it. Have you thought about filing for bankruptcy? I know it’s not ideal but most judgments can be discharged in bankruptcy.

  • Ginny

    Hi, I realized that what I wrote asked no question and just complained about my situation sooo. Here is my question. Do I just have to grin and bear it? Is it alright for a company to list me twice in the credit reports since the bank has these lawyers working for them and have told me so? Can lawyer send me papers that say call the court for instructions on how to proceed with a motion when the court house has to record of a motion being file on the date, time and place listed? Thank you for any advice you can give me.

  • Krystal

    Hi from Indiana! My fiance` has 2 issues that I’d like advice on.

    1. A little over a year ago, Capital One took him to court for a debt. We made an agreement for payment with their lawyer in the hallway. When we looked at his credit report we noticed they had charged it off 32 consecutive times.,, which the lawyer evaded explaining. Is that normal? He has been paying them a little a time but that has always stuck with us – all of those charge offs and the debt never left Capital One’s possession.

    2. Back in 2005 he maxed a credit card for around 7-9 thousand. The first time someone tried to collect, it had gone up to around 15 grand. Last year Omni Credit Services must have bought it and called to collect the debt. They said the debt was now over 22 thousand dollars! Today they called to say his “hardship” time was up (making payments of $50 a month) and that they would settle for 7 grand. He said he can’t do that and they’re saying they won’t let him pay $50 a month any more. It feels like we just keep throwing good money after bad because if they turn around and sell the debt, it will likely go up another 5-10 grand! What are his options? He wants to clear his credit.. but it’s getting tougher every time we turn around.

    On a side note – I saw you posted that a company cannot “re-age” a debt just to keep charging … but they do! I haven’t had a credit card in over 10 years, but last year my credit report showed that I had at least 2 outstanding credit card balances – and the “start date” was listed as whatever year the debt was to expire.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Krystal –

      Let’s take the second question first. In my view paying $50 a month on a debt that size is a bad decision. It doesn’t make a dent in the debt and it just keeps the statute of limitations from expiring which means this debt never goes away. I see absolutely no reason for him to keep making token payments on it. He can either stop paying and just see what happens, or consult a bankruptcy attorney. I’d actually recommend he do that either way so he can understand what his options are if they become more aggressive about collecting.

      As for the first question, I see no reason why it should be listed as a charge off 32xs on the report. But quite honestly I am having a hard time picturing what’s going on there so it’s hard for me to tell whether it is correctly reported or not.

      And in your case, if the date is wrong you should definitely dispute it. Again, it’s hard for me to tell exactly what’s going on but if the date is wrong you have every right to dispute the mistake.

      • EDS

        Gerri, Capital One is NOTORIOUS for listing and account as CO (Charged Off) EVERY MONTH. This has been brought to the FTC’s attention. I sent a letter to them several years ago because CrapOne was doing that to me.

        I asked for clarification as to whether the practice actually caused harm to the consumer and never received a reply.

  • Stacey

    I am applying to attend a masters program and they needed all school transcripts. I attended a community college back in 1995-1996. They claim now, 17 years later that I owe them $327. How is this possible? I NEVER received a bill, they claim it was referred to collections in 2002! 6 years after I left the school! It never showed up on my credit report and I check it often. It is now 11 years after the supposed referral to collection. Am I still obligated to pay? And if I do pay so I can get this transcript could it NOW show up on my credit report?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Wow! So they refuse to send you the transcript unless you pay? How nuts! Have you asked them for documentation of the debt? If they can’t provide anything in writing I would certainly encourage you to try to find an ombudsman at the school who can help you. But I wouldn’t want to fork over that kind of money without some kind of proof of the debt.

      A debt that old should not appear on your credit reports, even if you pay it.

  • russell

    I had some credit issues back in 2007 which resulted in charged off credit card accounts. I’ve looked on my credit report last month and saw the original debt as well as a collection for the same account. My question is that after my states SOL passes, will these debts be removed from my credit report or do they remain for 7 years? Also I have a couple items that I have no knowledge of and have disputed but they keep insisting is valid. What are my options to get that resolved? I’ve never been late one single item in the last 5 years but my score seems to stay in the mid 500′s. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Russell –

      Charge-offs can be reported for seven years from the date of charge off. The resulting collection account may be reported for seven years and 6 months from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to the account being placed for collection. After that time elapses, they should no longer be reported. It should happen automatically but it is a good idea to check your reports around that time to make sure that happens.

      As for the items you are disputing, have you tried disputing them with the companies that are reporting the accounts you don’t recognize? I’ve written about that in this article: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

  • Rita

    Question…. if my bad debt amount was $500.00 can a collection agency add more charges to it? The debt amount they want me to pay is now over $1700.00?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Rita –

      Collectors are usually allowed to add interest. How much depends on state law and the terms of the contract. But more than tripling the debt sounds excessive. How old is this debt? What is it for? Have you checked out the collection agency to see if they are legitimate?

  • Kyle

    Hi i recently was paying off a debt and have been doing a lot of research and found out many things I should have done before paying.I did not recieve any notice of the debt after they called me and me not knowing anything began to pay. I should have requested validation. Because I literally just sent my last payment and they said I will recieve confirmation that it has been closed. Now is it too late
    o do anything. I just thought because I knew about a T-Mobile account I couldn’tpay back before and thought I should just pay. Is there any way at all to recieve validation or if I contact the original creditor to ask if it was the right amount I owed or if it was really my account.

  • Kyle

    And one more question. I checked my credit report recently and saw a 3000 dollar account from my old college that has recently went to collections. I am already paying back the student loans from the school through Sallie Mae and now I see ITT tech for 3000 dollars. I never received any notice from my school about an account owing that money. Are they allowed to send my account to collections without contacting me about any money I owe or without sending a bill to me first?They never tried once to contact me.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kyle – Unfortunately I am not aware of any specific consumer protection law that requires them to notify you before they send the account to collections. If you are in default, then the account may wind up in collections. Nevertheless, you may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which has asked for consumer feedback on student loan collection practices.

  • MUSHI

    Hello I live in Texas and back in Sept 2009 I fell behind on credit cards. Eventually they all charged-off and majority was sold off to collection accounts. I was sued by one credit card and I retained an attorney and the judge dismissed with prejudice (in my favor). I’m still under my SOL for Texas which is 4yrs so I was told they could come back after to me. To present day I recieved a notice that I was being sued by a collection agency that a previous credit card sold to and I am going thru the motions with this lawsuit. Here is my questions When the SOL runs out on the credit cards can I use the judgements from the courts on both lawsuits (assuming I will win the second lawsuit) so I can have them removed from my credit report? If am was able to have one credit report( Equifax) agency remove most of the orginal credit cards off my report can I send that information to the remaining 2 credit agencies to show they (equifax) removed it? The reason I ask is becasue when I disputed to al 3 agencies 2 or them sent back verifed and Equifax found no validity and they deleted them. My last question is if I wait 7yr and 6 months from the last payment on made on my credit cards then request the credit agencies to delete them can that happen?

    • mickisue

      If you were sued, and the case was dismissed WITH prejudice, then it’s like the debt never existed, so you cannot be sued again. If it was without prejudice, that’s a different story. Again, if with prejudice, they are violating the FCRA to continue to report. If I were you, I’d contact the attorney who represented me against the bank. FCRA says that you can sue them for each MONTH they report a debt erroneously, and it’s their job to know that they are not permitted to report it.

  • Kirsten M

    I have an original creditor and a debt buyer reporting the same account. The debt buyer has offered to settle and delete the tradeline from my credit report. They tell me they are able to remove the original creditor’s tradeline b/c they purchased the debt. I fear that this is not tru and it will be reported as a settled debt for the next 7 years. Please advise

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kirsten –

      You are right to be skeptical. That is not typical at all. The original creditor has an agreement with the credit reporting agencies under which it reports information. The collection agency is not involved in that. Furthermore, the debt buyer’s contracts with the credit reporting agencies likely prohibit it from doing “pay for delete” deals. I have very little confidence the debt buyer can do what it says. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t settle the debt. (Is the debt very old and outside the statue of limitations? If so then the debt buyer may be trying to get you to pay on a debt it can’t do much to collect.)

  • Lashawn

    I have some medical expenses on my credit report that were Suisse to be paid by insurance. When I dispute these isms should I include copies of me and my sons medical insurance cards? Another question I have is how should I go about starting to pay off my collections accounts. Should I start with the highest amount or the lowest amount or the oldest?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Lashawn – Do you know what happened and why they weren’t paid by insurance? You need to look into that first. The collection agency won’t be interested in the fact that you had insurance. All they know is that the balance was turned over to collections. You’ll need to go back to the source – the medical provider and/or your insurance company to answer those questions.

      As far as your credit is concerned it doesn’t matter which collection accounts you pay off first. Paying off collection accounts doesn’t help your credit scores. You’ll learn more about collection accounts here: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit.

  • Alvin

    Hello…I apologize if I am off topic. I am seeking some advise on how to handle a charged-off credit card account. The problem I have is that in June 2007, I defaulted and a charged off has been marked on my credit report. The account was not sold (as far as I know) and I was never contacted by a collection agency. In 2009, the bank’s debt recovery division contacted me and we agreed on a monthly payment, which I submitted until the end of 2010. In mid 2011, the bank that originally opened my account merged with another bank, with which I now have an account. Recently, I visited the new bank to inquire about the charged off accounts since I was preparing to purchase a home. To my surprise, I was told that the account does not exist on their records; however, they continue to report it to the different CRAs.

    My first question is, has my debt re-aged because I made several payments until 2010?

    Also, is it wise to request the bank to remove the negative remark on my credit report based on the fact that they do not have a record of that account? I would like to avoid having this account sent to collections and would prefer dealing with the bank.

    Thank you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Alvin –

      How exactly is this currently reported on your credit reports? It sounds like it should just be reported as a charge off dated June 2007 when it was charged off. Is that correct? How is the new lender reporting?

  • Alvin

    Hello Gerri,

    You are correct. The new bank/lender is reporting it as a charged off account dated June 2007 with the unpaid balance. Since it was not sold to a collection agency, shouldn’t that account still be reflecting under my name?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Charge offs may be reported for 7 years from the date they were charged off. So if that is the correct date then technically it’s probably correct. Paying a charged off account doesn’t help your scores per se; it will still be listed as a charge off though the balance should be zero. (But again that isn’t likely to help your scores if it’s updated as a charge off with a zero balance.)

      What state do you live in? The statute of limitations may have expired on this debt. That won’t affect the reporting date but it does mean a collection agency shouldn’t be able to successfully sue you and get a judgment if it does wind up with a collection agency.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Alvin – One more thought. If these are showing up as two charged off accounts on your credit reports then you may want to dispute the original account. if it is not confirmed, it will be deleted. And since the original lender isn’t around to confirm it, you may have success with that approach. (The more recent one may still be on there but at least your reports won’t list duplicate charge offs for the same debt.)

      • Alvin

        Thank you for the explanation.

        I live here in California. I understand that 4 years is the SOL, but I am not sure if the payments I made in 2010 affected this. My report shows only one charged off account with the balance (not $0), from the new bank. I mentioned that I tried to find out about the account from the bank, but they did not have a record of it. I am assuming that the account is with their internal collection or recovery department, but it should at least still show up in my account, am I right? I am afraid to ask since this might prompt them to sell it to collections further damaging my credit. I guess my question is, what is the safest way to have this debt verified without the risk I mentioned?

  • Brian

    I have a credit card debt that the sol has passed and the credit card company issues a charge-off to my credit report every month for the last three months for the same debt. Is this not a violation of FCRA? They must be doing this to hurt my credit.

  • J

    I have a situation and hope I can explain it clearly. A few years ago, an energy company was reporting two separate tradelines for the same account, with one of the bureaus. The problem is that I had a few late payments, so I was receiving two flagged accounts for the same account. I disputed this method back then and the company “closed” one of the accounts listed and removed the late payments. So, the account showed “paid as agreed” with a zero balance and no late payments (since those lates were on the other trradeline).

    Today, I purchased from that bureau and the “closed” tradeline shows it as open. The difference is, instead of showing a 24 mos payment history, it just lists those same late payments from 2006 (November and December). Now, I know that they are going to drop off at the end of this year, but I am wondering why these have to be listed as two separate accounts? Obviously one flagged account would be better than two. Do you know if my FICO is damaged more in this case? Or, does the almighty FICO God calculate this as the same account, although it still says 2 flagged accounts?

    PS – I already tried a good will with the monopoly energy company last year to exaplain the oversight on the date of payment to no avail.

  • Aaron Koma

    Gerri,

    I had four delinquent accounts that were on my credit report for seven years. I knew and understood that. Now LVNV has bought those loans and they have put those under their heading in my credit report. So essentially my delinquent accounts will remain on my report for 14 years (for the same accounts). And they have sent me letters offering to settle the accounts for 35% of the original amount.

    I believe once an account has been charged off and it stayed on my report for 7 years. After that it will be over.

    Is it legal? Can I do something to have it removed?

    Many thanks!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Aaron – The fact that this collection agency just picked up the debt should not affect your credit reports. Collection accounts may be reported for seven years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to the account being charged off and placed for collection. VBase on what you are telling me these accounts should be off your reports very soon, if not already. If they are being reported longer than that time period, dispute them. You’ll learn how in this article: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Dana Sterling

    What is the length that the credit card company is allowed to continue posting interest/fees after the last payment? I had a capital one card that I was unable to make payments on. This had a limit of $400. I lost my job and then shortly after had a baby and by the time I was able to make payments again, the minimum payment was over $100 because of the fees/accrued interest. The last payment I made was in early 2009. My credit report shows this as charged off as of 2011 with a balance over $1000. Is this legal? Seems to me they only kept the account open so they could rack up how much I owe them, as on my other account with another servicer they charged it off after 180 days of non payment- but I was not sure if they are obligated to close it or if it is up to them when they close it.

    On anothoer more related note, I recently received a letter for an account I’m not sure that I owe. It lists the original creditor as general electric capital corp. and I’m not sure if any of my old charged off credit cards were part of this corp or not…the amount is not familiar but I know that collection agencies add their own fees and what not. Should I write a validation letter? It states in the letter that they cannot sue me over this debt since it is passed the SOL (most of my debts are in the same boat) and I’m wondering if its worth my time to validate? Thank you.

    • mickisue

      Legally, they have 180 days after the first day of delinquency to charge off your debt, so waiting till 2011 is in violation of IRS regulations.

      As for collection agencies: what contract gives them the right to add continued interest and fees? What proof do they have that you are liable for the debt they say they bought that belongs to you? If you can’t get adequate answers to those questions, then ask yourself if you really owe them anything.

  • Valerie

    Hi Gerri,

    I have some credit card bills that went into collections and have made agreements and regular payments with two collection agencies. Within the last two weeks, I have been contacted by two other credit agencies requesting payment on these debts. The last one sent me a letter and the name and acct number match for the account I am already paying for through another agency. Are multiple collection agencies allowed to try and get payments for the same accounts? I am very confused and have been paying steadily on these accounts for over a year now. Thanks for your advice.

    • Michael

      Hi Valerie,

      It would be helpful to know who your original creditors for the collection accounts were, the names of the debt collection agencies you have been paying for a year, and the names of the agencies trying to “double collect” now. Post a comment reply with the answers to those questions and I can offer more detailed feedback.

      What you are describing sounds like it could be either an error or a collection scam (unfortunately both happen). One of the ways to look into the matter would be to contact your original creditors and find out who they sold, or assigned the debt to for collection. You can match that information up with who you are paying now. You can also look to see who is reporting collection entries on your credit report and cross reference who you are paying, and who your creditors sent your accounts to.

      The key is to determine who the debt owner is, verify your payments are going to the right place, and correct any errors that may have occurred since, or raise your (and others) awareness about collection scams.

      I will look for your follow up comment and we can take it from there.

  • Laura

    I paid off a debt that was reported by both the original creditor and the company that bought the debt. The collection agency reported the debt as paid, but then the original creditor took the rest of the balance (I settled for less than I owed) and reported it in 1/2013, right after I did the payoff. I disputed it, citing that I settled and there should be no remaining balance. The original creditor corrected to show 0 balance but the last reporting date then remained 1/13. Is this hurting my score, and can I get one of the accounts removed since they are both referencing the same debt? Please help! Thanks so much!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Laura – It’s a little hard to understand exactly what’s happening here. Generally both the original creditor and the most recent collection account can be reported, but the information reported must be accurate. For example, the original creditor will likely report is as a charge off or partial payment. What is the status on the original credit account? (I am less concerned about the last reporting date as that shouldn’t affect how long the information is reported per se.) If it’s a charge off, then it can remain 7 years from the date it was charged off for example.

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  • Joe

    Hello Gerri,

    I have a charged-off account that was sold to a creditor, I settled with the creditor a couple of years ago. This negative item is listed twice, once from the original CC company and one from the creditor. I have contacted both countless times to try and get one removed with no success as each tell me that I need to contact the other. Is it legal to have two creditors listed for the same account that was delinquent? Is there a way to get one removed? Thanks for your help.

    Joe

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Joe – I assume you are saying the charged off account was sold to a collection agency? Typically credit reports will list the charged-off account as well as the most recent collection account for that debt. It’s when the same debt shows up under multiple collection agencies that consumers can dispute them. I have written a subsequent piece on collections on credit reports you may find helpful.

  • Andrea

    I have a law office that keeps calling me in regards to an old capital one account. The account was opened in 2006. The high balance was 790.00. On my credit report it says it was charged off and sold. Today on the phone the law office told me I owed over 1000.00 and wanted to know if I wanted to pay it before they filed suit against me. I have never even had a letter sent regarding this account. First can I actually be sued over a charge off? Second, why are they saying I owe more than what is shown on my credit report, and why doesn’t it show the company it was sold to? Lastly wouldn’t they have to notify me in writing that I owe this debt?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Andrea –

      Yes they must send you written verification of the debt. We wrote about that here: 11 Ways A Debt Collector May Be Breaking the Law

      Yes, you can be sued over a debt that has been charged off. But this debt is old – it may be outside the statute of limitations. I’d check that before making any arrangements to pay. If it’s too old, you can send them a letter instructing them not to contact you again.

      Yes, they can sometimes add interest or fees to an account that has gone to collections. How much is a matter of state law.

      • Andrea

        Thank you Gerri,
        I have one more question. The credit card was opened with I lived in Hawaii. I moved from Hawaii in 2008. I have read conflicting stories about where they would have to sue me. I have read where it would have to be where the contract was signed. Any truth to this. I have checked the statute of limitations in Hawaii and the state I live in now and they have passed. Is it possible they could still try to sue me since they bought the debt?

  • Janet

    i got a statement from a collection agency and they are trying to tell me i owe less that what i did when i initially defaulted on the loan. they are also willing to settle for half of that. now, its not that i am complaining, i just do not want the difference to come back and…for lack of a better statement…bite me in the butt. i did call the original creditor and they confirmed that the debt has been “charged off,” so i am assuming this is a legit statement from the collection agency. any input would be helpful.

    • Michael

      Janet – If you were able to confirm with the original creditor that they assigned or sold the account to collection agency now contacting you, settling the debt with the agency if you can afford it, is a good move. Your concern about having the unpaid portion come back to bit you after settling is valid. Mistakes happen. Not that often when you consider how many debts get paid or settled after default, but enough to watch out and get what you need upfront.

      Be certain you get a written agreement outlining the settlement terms etc. Here is a short report on settling and documentation: http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/debt-settlement-letters-agreements

      Keep a copy of your settlement letter and proof that you paid the offer in a safe place. If the amount you did not pay resurfaces in any way later on, the letter and proof you paid will help you resolve any issue.

  • Tammy

    After a layoff in 2009, I called to close my credit card and I asked them to please work with me so I could stop the excessive charges and set up a monthly payment plan…of course they basically laughed at me and said they would indeed close the account but good luck in paying it off…so several months later obviously I quit making payments bc the over the limit fees, finance charges and other charges were sucking up every penny I sent in. After the 180 day period I waited for the collection company to call…they did and I set up a payment plan that started in November of 2010 – I have not missed one month of my 100.00 per month auto draft. I pulled my credit report to see how things were looking so I could try and refinance my house (at a lower rate and NO extra money) and to my horror the original Credit Card company has been reporting a monthly Charge Off since November 2010 – when I called they said its my fault for defaulting on my payment, I should take it out of my 401k or they will continue charging off my account every month until I do pay it in full (currently 100.00 a month for another 13 months – because I couldn’t make 1 or 2 large payments I had to settle for the FULL balance and make 100.00 per month payments).

    I really thought I would see ONE big ding for the initial late payments and charge off…but I didn’t know they could do a charge off every single month…so basically in 13 months the LAST charge off will appear creating a ending mark of my payments and beginning an additional 7 years of BAD DEBT to fall off on my credit history.

    • Michael

      Tammy – I want to be certain I understand what you are saying. It sounds like the payments you are making are less than what was required and that is causing your account to report late in perpetuity. That is fairly common. Creditors do often offer plans that “re-age” your payments, and that would prevent what you are seeing now. Working through debt collectors can mean missing out on that benefit.

      If you are saying that your account is showing a fresh charge off each and every month, that should not be happening. You can dispute incorrect information on your credit reports with the reporting agencies and the furnisher of the information. Who is the creditor? Who is the debt collector involved?

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  • Zia

    I filed Bankruptcy back in 2011 and it has been cleared and my credit is back to a good score now. On 12/28/2012 I pulled my reports to get the free credit reports once a year. My reports shows no collections, and no behind payments, nothing. Everything good. This collection agency from 2009 is trying to say I have an open account with them but I don’t. Since my reports show no collections and everything in good standing since 2012… do I have a case to sue them?

  • Michael

    Zia – Whether a collection account is appearing on your credit report or not does not establish legitimacy. Many collection agencies do not report to the credit bureaus.

    Was the account the agency is trying to collect on listed in your bankruptcy filing? Is the agency collecting now the same as the agency that was trying to collect in 2009? Have you spoken with the collection agency, or are the writing to you only?

    If you can answer those questions with a comment reply, it would help paint a clearer picture of what you have going on.

  • Desiree

    Maybe someone can help me. I just mailed a debt settlement offer to a debt collection agency this morning, and received a letter from Experian stating that the debt was deleted from my credit report. I disputed it over a month ago and forgot. Granted, in my letter I stated that I was not acknowledging or accepting the debt because I had not received any verification. I also stated it wasn’t a promise to pay or a payment agreement unless they accepted my offer to certain terms. I just inadvertently re open this account and make it so I have to pay it still by contacting them? Or is the account dead and gone because it was disputed and deleted from my credit report? Thank you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Desiree – Whether or not the debt appears on your credit reports is a separate issue from the issue of whether they can legally still try to collect the debt. Whether or not they can collect depends on the statute of limitations. You may find this article helpful: Debt Collectors Killing Your Credit? Here’s What To Do

  • Liz

    My husband & I live in Oregon. He has his own medical insurance & I have my own medical insurance, which includes my children from prior relationship. We have been trying to clean up our credit, however, we fall behind on medical bills & they tend to go to collections. It is my understanding that Oregon isn’t a community property state & we also don’t list each other as responsible on medical bills, he also hasn’t adopted my children. We have pulled our bureaus & the collection agencies tend to report the debts that they have on both of our reports. Can they do this? We don’t dispute we owe the money, but can they report it on both? Thanks

  • Jill

    I settled with a credit card company 3 years ago and I have a letter proving that the debt has been paid (less than full balance) and I just noticed the company is still sending derogatory information monthly to the agencies. Are they able to do that once an account was paid and on their terms? I appreciate any help you can provide. Thank you!

    • Credit.com

      Hi Jill– Unfortunately, paying a collection doesn’t automatically remove it from your credit report. If you settled the account, the company should be reporting the account as “settled” or “paid for less that full amount” but it will still be reported. For more on how a collection/settlement will impact your credit and how they’re reported (and why), this article will explain everything for you: Will Settling a Collection Hurt My Credit? http://blog.credit.com/2012/06/will-settling-a-collection-account-hurt-my-credit/

  • Kurstin

    I have a collection account on my credit report and it states that the orginal creditor is a phone company. But the phone company listed is not the original phone company as they were bought out. I have contacted the phone company now listed and they have no record of me. I have disputed it, but it came back that the item will remain unchanged. Do I write to the collection agency then?

    • Credit.com

      Kurstin – If the phone company validated the debt during the dispute investigation, it’s going to be difficult to have the collection removed unless you can provide proof that the account doesn’t belong to you or that you don’t owe the debt any longer. Contacting the collection agency might help but only if you can use the information to prove that you don’t actually owe the debt they’re reporting. One option is to try contacting the collector and explain that you’d like to pay the debt if it’s yours, but before you’ll pay it you need them to send you written validation of the debt. If they cannot provide written validation, then technically they cannot pursue collection attempts. At which point, you should keep records of the correspondence and any proof that would help in the dispute investigation process when you dispute the item with the credit reporting agencies to have it corrected/removed. Here are a two resources that I think will help provide a little more detail on how to handle collectors and the dispute process:

  • Jovanne

    Hello,
    I have a debt of $500 from a surgery I received 2 years ago. I, unfortunately, have not been able to pay it. I received a collections letter long ago and I did not respond to it because I just had no money to pay it off. It has been almost a year and a half since that letter and have not received any further letters or calls. Now that I have saved enough money I am willing to pay it as long as it is removed from my report. However, I have no idea how to begin this process. I do not even know if the same collections agency is still holding my account. I honestly have no idea how any of this works and I have tried asking friends but they are just as clueless. I would really appreciate any advice or even a guide as to how to overcome this stressful situation. I am only 19 and hope it does not horribly affect my future. Thanks in advance!

  • Mike

    when creditors sell off accounts to debt collectors(“collection agency”), what information does the creditor provide to the Debt collectors? Do the creditors provide just the account number and the payment amount? Or Do the creditors provide the agreement which authorizes the creditor to collect debt on the alleged debt, the signed agreement from the debtor conforming to pay the creditor, and also the documents regarding the payments made on the account validating the amount?

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  • mickisue

    I have four accounts reporting as negative on all three credit reports.

    Because the information reported to each of them varied from the information reported to the other two, I sent a dispute to Transunion, as their information was most wildly different from the others. They came back (of course) verified.

    So, I sent letters following the rules of section 623 of the FCRA, noting the specifics of the disagreements among the three credit bureaus, to each of the four. I sent them all certified, with proof of delivery. I received the green card on all of them.

    One, a bank, sent me a letter saying that they sold the debt, so couldn’t “validate” it for me. I was not looking for validation, but for them to investigate per section 623.

    Another, Sallie Mae, on a co-signed loan that is now out of SOL (it was a private loan, not federally guaranteed) wrote back 1 day before their deadline, saying that they were not responsible for the variances in reporting. One of the bureaus is reporting that the account is still open, while the others show multiple first dates of delinquency, none of which is the actual first date. Furthermore, the charge off dates reported on those two are WAY after the 120 days required for installment loans.

    Two others, banks, didn’t bother to respond at all. Both of those accounts have been sold to CACH, by the way.

    What is my best move, at this point? All are continuing to report to the credit bureaus, although they are legally forbidden to do so, because of their failure to respond to my investigation.

    Is a notice to the credit bureaus better than, or the same as, re-contacting the reporting companies and letting them know they are in violation?

    Should I find a consumer attorney, and sue them for their violations? Assuming that they could argue that they were unaware of their inconsistencies prior to my letter, it’s still, now, two months of reporting, times four companies times three agencies!

    Any advice would be welcome.

  • Dale

    Several abusive debt collectors (I have recordings) have contacted me about a defaulted credit card account. From my understanding the original creditor still owns the account. I live in Texas and debt collectors are required to be bonded. Most of the collectors calling me are not bonded in Texas. I did some research and found Sec. 392.306 of the Texas finance code. Since ALL of the debt collectors who have contacted me have violated both State and Federal collection laws and Texas holds creditors responsible for illegal actions by companies collecting for them, should I notify the creditor of what has taken place? I am not the suing type, but I don’t want the abuse to continue either. I have Lupus, so stress does a real number on me, and my husband is on total, permanent disability due to brain damage. My granddaughter has severe ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorder and other effects of her mother’s drug use, so her mother left her with us to raise. With my Lupus and husband’s disability I could not continue to work. We are not deadbeats and had fantastic credit before the finnal blow of caring for a special needs child. I do not know how to handle this, but really do not want to sue anyone. I just despirately need peace.

    • Credit.com

      Dale – If they’re breaking the law, you can call the creditor to tell them about it but it’s doubtful that it’ll result an any major change. Unfortunately, legal action is usually what stops collectors from breaking the law and puts an end to abusive practices.

      We’re not attorney’s and are not familiar with the individual laws in Texas, so we can’t address the bonding laws in Texas. However, you may be able to contact the state attorney general’s office and file an official complaint there. Another option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: http://www.consumerfinance.gov. And finally, if you find that they are, in fact breaking laws in the state of texas, I know you said you don’t want to contact an attorney but maybe someone else will… in this case, we’d suggest speaking with a consumer law attorney for legal advice. A good place to search for one is at the National Association for Consumer Advocates site at NACA.net.

  • willl

    This is great information above, thank you! My question is I have a charge off from 2008 from a chase card. Is that creditor or the collection agency still able to report montly late payments? It is still showing on my report as of last month as a current late payment. My understanding is that a charge off is a one time entry and that they cannot report late after the charge off. Am I mistaken? Again, how much is this affecting my score? Thank you in advance..

  • willl

    secondly, I have an old collection account that is reporting late monthly. Is that allowed? I am 10 points away from a mortgage on a home I want. I just want to make sure I am getting a fair shake on my report as I re establish my credit.

  • elizabeth

    I was wondering if an account from 6 years ago with a zero balance that has been sold
    can all of a sudden 2 months ago start reporting to equifax again there has been no activity, i disputed the account and now they started reporting is that allowed being as they no longer own the account, and i in fact paid it off over 5 years ago

  • stephanie

    Please help! I financed an auto in Aug. 2007. Due to several circumstances I fell behind payments in March 2008 and the vehicles was repoed a few months later. The original creditor – Santander sold my debt to Palisades for $9000. Given the age of the collection it appears to have little effect on my score. Fast forward to now, I have learned a lot about credit, improved my scores by over 200 points and plan to purchase a new car soon. Yesterday I checked my reports and discovered a new collection account for nearly $14,000 from some Dynamics something or another company showing a reporting date of 4/2013. The Palisades account has been removed but I never received any notice from Dynamics demanding payment. My score just nose dived 100 points. So far it has only been reported to equifax. How do I get control of this before it ends up on the other two reports? Will this tack on another 7 years to the debt?

  • Jim

    Hello, I have had a “hard” start at life. I was not very good at paying my bills for the first 15 years or so of adult hood…
    About 10 years ago now. I pulled my reports and started paying off old debt. Either settling or paying in full anything that was reporting.
    As of September of 12 I had 0 balance’s on every thing that was reporting. My scores where up 150 points in about 14 months of working on them. Due to smart Cc and loans.
    I bought my first house in September. Yeah me!!
    Since September I have been getting “Vulture Collectors” calling me. Some of the debt is 14 years old they are call about!.
    I have sent out letters stating the statute of limitations in pa is 4 years and to stop contacting me about this debt. It worked for some. Others seem to sell and recontact me about the debt. I dont know if they are reporting again or not. As I wanted to wait until September to pull my report again. Can they report the debt as new? Should I pull the report early to see if they are reporting? Please help. Jim

  • Marissa

    Hi Gerri,

    I started the pre-approval process for a mortgage on a new home for my family. When our mortgage consultant pulled our credit, there were several collections accounts outstanding. One of them, however, is for a credit card that I had paid off another collection agency for. I have a written letter of the pay off. How do I go about getting this off my record? The collection agency that I owe money to says that I have to pay them and try to get the money back from the collection agency that I originally paid.

    Is this the only way I can get it removed?

  • Nancy Han

    Hi, Gerri,
    We are a online travel agency and we sold 4 non-refundable air tickets to a client in Dec2012. The tickets were issued through a major consolidater and the money went to a major international airline. This client raised a credit card dispute after since they realized the schedule did not fit their requirement and tickets could not be refunded.

    With our help to seek for the airline’s help, the airline offered a big favor that the customer pay for one ticket instead of four. however the customer still refused to pay. The airline closed the credit card dispute issue by sending a debit note to the consolidator who continued to charge this amount of $1090 for one ticket to us.

    We need your help on the following
    1. who should be the main creditor to deal with the customer?
    2. how and where to report customer’s credit issue?
    3. can i seek for several collection agencies to solve this customer’s credit issue at the same time?

    appreciate your help in advance.
    Nancy

    • Gerri Detweiler

      There are consumer protection laws that protect credit cardholders in the case of disputes. I am not, however, aware of any similar protections for merchants who accept credit cards. (The consumer’s bankcard issuer is the one that is obligated by law to assist them in this type of dispute.) I suggest you ask your merchant bank on how to proceed. You are their customer so they should at least try to help.

  • Brittany

    I’m currently leasing a car that I can buy at the end if the lease if I want for a small residual fee. I tried to get a car loan and trade this one in but when they pulled my credit there was no records if this vehicle. I got the lease October 2011 and the only reporting on my credit was one late payment for the month of December in 2012. Is it legal for them to randomly report to credit? Is it legal for them to only report the negative information and not the payments made in time?

  • Kali

    So the situation is that I fell behind on my payments to Capitol One, and then got sued by them in 2010. I made arrangements to pay it off, and did so faithfully through my last payment, I even have all the copies of my checks that I sent from my bank. Then I moved to Texas, and two years later I have another debt collector contacting me about the same debt, that I already paid off. I sent a dispute letter, and that seems to have had no effect. They sent back that they verified with Capitol One that this is what was owed, but that obviously can’t be true, as I have copies of every check as well as the original judgment. What do I do in this situation?

    • http://getoutofdebt.org Get Out of Debt Guy

      If you have a copy of the original judgment showing it was satisfied that will do the trick. If you don’t have that, then call the court house where the judgment was recorded and see what you can do to get a copy of the satisfied judgment.

      I’m not sure what they provided as proof of the debt but see this for what you should expect to get– How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt

  • Nicole

    Hello,
    I actually have the same question as Kalli and Marrisa. Somewhat..
    I had 4 medical accounts sent to a collection agency in 2010. I had not paid but in late 2012, I was contacted by an attorney who told me court action had been filed and to avoid a judgment, I needed to enter into an agreement to pay. I did and began paying a set amount in January 2013. Now that I am half done I recently learned that the bills I am paying through the attorney are the same bills showing up as collection accounts with the initial collection agency. The attorney does not report the debt to the credit bureau. I am wondering if I should dispute or try something else?

    • Credit.com

      It’s worth a shot but keep in mind that the collection agency may have hired the attorney.

  • laney

    I`ve recently been able to remove some negative errors from my credit report. Will the credit bureaus update my credit score automatically or is this something I will now have to battle with? Also how long before the credit score is changed? Thx!

    • http://credit.com Robin

      I had some recent experience with paying off medical bills that were on my credit report. Surprisingly, they showed up as paid within 30 days of paying them off. I was told by a collection agency that they do report payments once a month to credit bureaus. You may be pleasantly surprised. However, my credit score did not change. Now, the minute I paid off/down credit cards, the score jumped up about 80 points, again in ONE MONTH!!

    • Credit.com

      Laney – as soon as the information in your credit report is updated, your credit scores will reflect the change. Credit scores are based on the information in your credit report at any given moment so they will change as new information is added (or old, negative information is removed).

      To clarify, when you say you’ve been able to remove negative errors — we’re assuming that the items were actually removed (whether they were inaccurate or just past the SOL for being reported and fell off your reports). If this is the case, you may see an improvement in your score but it’s not always the case. If you don’t see an improvement, this article is a great resource that explains why this might be: The Bad Stuff is Off My Credit Reports – So Why Didn’t My Scores Go Up?

      The reason I’m clarifying whether or not the information was removed is because many people think that when they pay a negative account (like a collection, judgement, etc.), it automatically removes the item from their credit reports. The problem is that the account isn’t actually removed, it’s only updated to reflect that the collection was paid and the account will remain in your credit report until it reaches the statute of limitations for reporting and falls off your credit report. If this is the case, here are a few resources that address these particular issues:

      Will Paying a Collection Account Remove it From My Credit Report?
      Will Paying a Collection Improve My Credit Score?
      How Long Does Negative Info Stay on My Credit Report?

  • http://credit.com Jamie

    Hello – I had a debt that was approximately $700. Now I have two agencies trying to collect what I am certain is the same debt. One agency is willing to settle for about $400 and the account number they provided matches the account number on my credit report. Now there is also a law office threatening to garnish my wages over this same debt (also had court proceedings) and they are asking for several thousand dollars, I am assuming a ton of extra fees and interest were added. I could pay the first agency the $400 now to get rid of the debt, but now wondering which one do I pay? If I pay one, can the other still try to collect? This is maddening….thank you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jamie – I need a little more information here. Is this a payday loan by chance? I say that because there are some very shady payday loan collection practices out there.

      What do you mean when you say “also had court proceedings”? Was a judgment obtained for this debt?

  • http://credit.com Jamie

    I should add that the law office could not produce anything over the phone, no account number, nothing, and they were extremely rude (said they would have to “look into the details”. I suspect this is one that was acquired from another. Still, my question is who to pay? Thank you.

  • Barry

    Hi,

    I have a question about one late payment. I have 5 student loans that I pay on regularly, however I was late on the very first payment. I had just moved to Germany and I didn’t realize the payment was due until I received notice that I was 30 days past due. That was December 2009. I’ve never been late since that very first payment but yet all 5 accounts show under the negative portion of my credit report. Is there any way to remedy this or will this remain negative for 7 years even though I haven’t been late in 3 1/2 years now?
    Thanks,
    Barry

    • Credit.com

      Hi Barry – Unfortunately, the late payment will remain in your reports for 7 years but the good news is that the older it gets, the less impact it will have. Credit score models place the most emphasis on the last 24 months (2 years) so the fact that it’s been 3 1/2 years since the incident is much better than if it had just happened. The other positive here is that it was one isolated incident so it’s not nearly as detrimental as it would be if there were a series of lates.

  • Cyndi

    Hi Gerri-
    I am in Colorado. I claimed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2007. I have 3 collection accounts on my credit report that show the following info:
    Acct Status: Closed
    Monthly Payment:
    Date Open: 1/1/2008
    Balance: $0.00
    Terms: 1 Month
    High Balance:
    Limit:
    Past Due:
    Payment Status: Debt included in or discharged through Bankruptcy Chapter 7, 11, or 12
    Comments: Account in dispute-reported by subscriber

    I disputed them to try to get them removed due to them being included in my bankruptcy. Weird thing is, the last activity they show is Aug 2007 but the date opened shows Jan 2008. When I disputed the accounts, I received a call from this collection agency trying to collect money from me. This collection agency has never contacted me since my bankruptcy. When I told them this was included, they said they checked their records and that it was not included and now want money. The comment showing they were included comes straight from the credit bureau.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?

    • Credit.com

      Cyndi – You should talk to a bankruptcy attorney. If you used a bankruptcy attorney when you filed (which hopefully you did), they may be more than willing to help. If not, you can find a consumer bankruptcy attorney in your area at NACA.net. If the collector is violating the law they’ll have to pay the attorney’s fees. Let us know how things turn out.

  • Danielle Padilla

    This sounds similar to what I am going through. I had an account with Drive Time that went to repossession in 2000 but they never came and picked up the car. I had a collection agency call me in 2009 about the debt I asked for validation and the collection agency did validate the debt. I paid the collection agency in full, in turn they removed the debt from my credit report. Drivetime was still reporting my repossession on the credit report at the time. The credit reporting limit came up in July of 2011 and Drive time came off my report in August of 2011. Just this month Drivetime is now rereporting the debt as a charge-off on my credit report and when I called them about it, I was told that they were allowed to report 7 years from the last payment I made. Can Drivetime report a debt if they were not the ones to collect?

  • Brittany friedman

    This is almost identical to my situation! I owed on a Wells Fargo account. I was contacted through a credit agency demanding I pay. So I did. A year later a pull my report and Wells Fargo AND another agency are reporting negatively on my credit report for the account I already paid. When looking closer at the account the one I paid off has the exact same account number as my credit card EXCEPT the last number. It’s off by one. I contact the cpany I paid and told them about this and they said it was probably a typo when they both the account. Should this cause me worry? If the number is off by one but ALL other information they had was correct, is that why my credit for Wells Fargo is still reporting negative? I’m so lost on how to fix this when everyone I talk to tells me they have sold my account to someone else. How do I get to the bottom of this!??? HELP!!’n

  • Raina

    Dear Gerri,

    My husband and I are trying to fix our credit, we have found one credit card company duplicated 4 accts into 12 separate items! We are trying our best to pay it off, and have made tentative arrangements with what we are to believe is a sheriffs debt collection office, but how do we know the money we are paying will be counted towards the correct accts? There are others as well but they only seem to appear once each, this particular credit card company is really very confusing– and of course has accrued the largest balance although we have not charged anything in 3 years…

  • Beatrice

    Hi. I have one question. My husband has a cellphone company having reported him 20 times within a month, in which 8 are late payments . There is a lot of discrepancy because on the detailed information before dates says it has never been late. This is a cancelled account and they did not send us a bill after cancelling and as a matter of fact told us to wait between until 2 billing cycles. We paid beforehand an estimated amount and did not think about it anymore until we asked for his credit report. It was sent to collections and we got a bill months after closed. My question is, can a company report 20 times within a month and place 8 late payments all together (different dates). Seems almost as if it was forged by the collection agency to damage our credit in retaliation. By the way, this account is paid in full as soon as we got the collectors letter because cellphone company did not contacted us nor sent us anything. Thank you.

    • Credit.com

      Beatrice — I’m not sure I understand your question but to help explain how delinquencies/late payments are reported — if the last bill wasn’t paid it would first go 30 days late, then 60 days late, then 90 days late, and so on. After 180 days late, it’s typically charged off and either sent to collections or sold to a collection agency. I think what you’re saying is that your payment should have only shown as one late, which isn’t how it works. It would actually show a late payment for each consecutive month. Which, if they charged it off after the 180 day mark – there would be a minimum of six late payments showing.

  • Anon

    Hi gerri, i have two sets of debts listed twice on my credit report, there’s one set that clearly has the same account number but one is listed under the original creditor and the other under the collection agency and then the other set there’s diffrent account numbers but only cause the collection agency has listed the debt under its account number instead of the original account number under the original creditor but i checked and found their the same account cause the original account number is on the document i got in the mail along with the collection agency’s account number, thats how i was able to match it so my question to you is what can i do about this, how can i have the duplicates removed cause i don’t have money to be paying the same debt twice

  • Beatrice

    Thank you so much for answering. We called them and found out they sent us to collection (not they would admit, they denied ever sending us to collection) in less than 90 days and was reported as 09- Bad Credit at the time (60-90 days late). I find it unbelievable what they can get away with. And for 28$ they reported that. Why wouldn’t we pay if we only knew…

    Just to be on the safe side before disputing with the credit bureau, can you tell me if late payments really do count as this example:

    May 10th issued date
    June 10th due date
    July 10th 30 days late
    August 10th 60 days late
    September 10th 90 days late

    Is this correct? Also just out of curiosity, lets say we did make a late payment because we did not know of the remaining balance (28$). If we send proof of payment that was late but not as late as it says on the report will the Credit Company correct it or delete that information?

    And if they would change it to late but not as late wouldn’t send proof of payment instead of trying to dispute first without it compromising? Never disputed before so that doubt is killing me. Thank you, I appreciate it.

    (And just an observation, what I think is that they reported older *late* payments at the same time they reported the 09-Bad Credit, but it is fabricated if you ask me, I checked the statements and I was not late on any of those other older dates.)

  • http://Credit.com Ralph Cecena

    Hi , I have a question regarding a citation that we were given from a city in California for 4 code compliance issue on two separate properties in which I am currently disputing. The city hires a collection agency service to assist with their debt collection efforts. These debts are showing up on on my credit reports as posted by the debt collection agency. In attempt to negotiate the debt, I asked the debt collection agency if had purchased the accounts from the city and they advised that they had not and that the city utilizes there services and they collected fees from the if they were successful at settling the account. They advised me if that if I paid all the accounts that they would remove them from my credit report. however the amounts owed were non negotiable and that they must be paid in full. They also advised that that time limit to pay is June 1st 2013. After that date they would no longer have control of them as the accounts get turned back over to the city to place a liens against properties. I am currently trying to pay for these accounts but my question is, since the collection agency does not really own these citation accounts are they allowed to place negative information on my credit report?

    • Credit.com

      They can and do. Many companies hire third-party collection agencies to collect on a contract basis all the time and if they weren’t able to report, they wouldn’t be very successful at collecting contract debts. In regards to the pay for removal deal, if a collection agency is willing to remove a collection account in exchange for payment, you should get the agreement in writing if you can. Otherwise, it will be your word against the collection agency’s, and they are very unlikely to follow through. You won’t be able to enlist the credit reporting agency’s help there, either, as they frown upon this practice. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but getting in writing will insure that it does.

  • Jan

    I was paying a collection agency faithfully monthly payments for over 5 years. In October 2012 I was contacted by them saying they have authorization from the original creditor to offer me a settlement for a lesser amount. I took the settlement. In early December, I was contacted by another collection agency saying they received my November payment but not my December payment. I asked them what the amount of the November payment was and when they told me I explained to them that that amount was the last of 4 payments to settle the account in full. They said okay and then charged off the balance after the settlement on my credit report. When I contacted Equifax and disputed it they said they contacted the original creditor and it is indeed still my debt. Now I have been contacted by another collection agency who is again offering me a settlement on this same debt. This is very frustrating. What should I do?

  • Charlotte

    Is it illegal for a creditor to sell your account to multiple collection agencies? I have several collection agencies calling me about the same debt – and they all give me a different amount.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    You settled the account and have all the documentation to back that up. The creditor should not have made any further collection attempts, nor should the debt have been sold (but it sounds like it was). What is happening to you should not be, but it is, and likely because the account was not coded in their system correctly.

    If it were me in your shoes I would send your documentation along with a demand they cease communicating with you along with a firm (but polite) suggestion that every measure be taken to assure the account is not passed on to another collector, or resold. Send certified mail return receipt, keeping a copy of your correspondence, and the green return receipt in a safe place.

    If you receive any further communication about the debt after that, post an update to this comment string and lets go from there.

    Question: Are any of the additional collectors/debt purchasers showing up on your credit reports?

  • Noah-Candy Smith

    Can creditors charge you more than the amount listed in your credit report? I went to pay off a bad debt and the credit report showed $180.00. However when I contacted the collection company to ask if they’ll remove the adverse account, once $180 was paid. The CSR advised the debt was now $280. She says they cannot list penalties n fees. Is that valid, can they do that?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Collectors can charge interest and fees but they cannot be excessive. Exactly how much they can charge will vary by state so you’ll need to check with your state attorney general to be sure.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you request a validation of the debt, the collector has 30 days to respond to the validation request. If they don’t, they must stop all further collection attempts. If they continue to try and collect without validating the debt (after receiving your written request), they would be violating the law. Have they continued to try and collect?

    It’s true that if you send a request in writing for a collector to validate a debt, they have 30 days to respond to the request or they must stop all further collection attempts. It’s impossible to say for sure, but have you communicated with the collector since the collection attempt? Is it possible that they sent the validation and you never received it?

    As far as disputing the collection and charge off, when you file a dispute the credit reporting agencies are required to open an investigation. As part of the investigation process, they will contact the data furnisher (the credit card issuer or collector) to validate the accuracy of the dispute. If the collector or creditor reporting the debt validates that you owe the debt, it will remain in your credit report.

    In your case, it sounds like what happened here is that Equifax contacted the original creditor (the credit card issuer that charged off the debt), and they provided validation that debt belonged to you and that you owe the debt. It’s also possible that the credit card issuer still “owns” the debt and has assigned it to either their internal collection staff — or commissioned it to an agency.

  • Pingback: 11 Tips to Rebuild Your Credit | 100% Realtors

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Tonya – A balance on a car loan shouldn’t be much of an issue for his credit scores, as long as the loan shows it’s paid on time. But it would be a good idea to get it corrected in case he applies for a loan where they compare debts to income.

    He should be able to fix this one fairly easily. Tell your hubby to get his
    free annual credit reports from all three agencies, and then file a dispute with any that are showing the wrong balance. He will get instructions for doing so with the reports. (And in this case, I think filing disputes online is perfectly fine.)

    To see what impact this has on his credit scores, I’d suggest he gets his free Credit Report Card so he can monitor his credit scores before and after. He will also get information about the main factors affecting his scores, which will hopefully be helpful as he works on his credit.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Lissa – It sounds to me like your account has been sold to another collection agency because the first one couldn’t collect. Is that correct? If so then the new collection agency may report the debt as I described in the article. The new account is also more recent, which is probably why you saw your score go down. Unfortunately paying it won’t resolve the situation though there may be other reasons for paying it. This article may also help: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • koko2904

    Hello Gerri.

    So I am paying a medical bill now to a collection agency and every month my scores are lowering. they are the only negative line of credit reporting on my credit report. what they are doing is updating that my balance is different(lower) but they are not reporting that my payments are being made on time. so when you look at it every single month it looks like a new negative account. what can I do to fix this? I have sent them a dispute letter already, I AM IN NEED OF HELP!!!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I’d have to look at the tradeline to see what’s happening. Collection accounts don’t improve with payments, but payments shouldn’t make it worse either. I’ll try emailing you.

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