Managing Debt

9 Ways to Turn the Tables on Debt Collectors

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If your phone is ringing off the hook with calls from debt collectors, it’s not likely that you feel in control of the situation. But letting yourself feel scared or intimidated isn’t a good option, either. Go down that road and you may wind up making promises you can’t keep, or payments you can’t afford.

What if there was a way to turn the tables on debt collectors so that you are in control of the conversation, and can actually come up with a solution to put those debts behind you? You’ll find nine approaches to doing just that here.

Note, however, this is not about trying to get out of paying your debt if you can afford to do so. What we are talking about here are legitimate ways to deal with aggressive or relentless collectors who continue to pressure you to pay debts you owe but are impossible for you to pay right now. If you suspect the callers aren’t on the up and up, though, you’ll need different strategies for stopping debt collection scammers; and if you are getting calls for someone else, you’ll want to read about what to do if you are getting collection calls for the wrong person.

Don’t Wait for Them to Call

Consider picking up the phone and calling the debt collector yourself. “People I have worked with over the years find they have a different mindset when talking with a debt collector when they have made the call themselves,” insists Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network where he provides free information about how to talk with debt collectors. “You are better able to prepare for the call and are dialing with a prepared strategy and purpose. Most people feel they are more in control of the call when placing it themselves.”

Check Them Out

By the time a bill collector calls you, he probably knows a good deal about you. He probably has reviewed your credit reports to see what other debts you owe. He may have checked out your employment using The Work Number database. He may have even checked out your Facebook profile.

You, on the other hand, are getting a call from a company you’ve probably never heard of before. And even if you know you owe the debt, it’s reasonable for you to check out the collector.  At a minimum, you want to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company and not a debt collection scammer.

Ask for the agency’s address (you are entitled to this information) and check them out with the Better Business Bureau. Call your state’s attorney general office to find out whether collectors must be licensed in your state. If so, confirm whether they are. Most states provide an online look-up tool for checking the licensing status of a business.

What if the collector won’t tell you who is calling? If you have caller ID, type the phone number of the company that’s calling into a search engine, suggests Sukhman Dhami, founding partner of The Dhami Law Firm, adding, “You can learn a lot online.” You may find the name of the agency as well as learn about complaints from other consumers.

Dump it Back in Their Lap

If the debt collector is trying to collect on a debt that you don’t recognize, or you think the amount is wrong, or you think it’s too old, ask them to validate the debt. You have the right to do so under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. “Asking for proof how the debt was calculated and to demonstrate it is a valid debt you owe will put you back in the driver’s seat by asking them to support their claim,” says Steve Rhode, a.k.a. “The Get Out of Debt Guy.” He provides a free sample debt validation letter on his site. At a minimum, requesting validation of a debt gives you time to research the debt to determine if it is legitimate and figure out what you can afford to pay toward it. (If a debt collector refuses to verify the debt after you’ve requested it, the company may be breaking the law.)

Stick to Business

You may feel guilty or embarrassed that you couldn’t pay your bills. The collector knows that and may try to use that to his advantage. “There is a great deal of psychology used by debt collectors to create feelings of guilt and obligation on the part of debtors,” warns Atlanta bankruptcy attorney Jonathan Ginsberg. They key is to try not to get swept up in the emotions. “When the debt collector calls, people panic, and when they panic they don’t think clearly. This leads to more stress, fear, intimidation, and loss of control,” agrees Rhode.

A couple of years ago, Ginsberg interviewed Kenny Golde who was able to settle $250,000 of credit card debt for less than 50 cents on the dollar and went on to write a book about his experience. In that interview, Kenny explained that the key to his success arose from treating all interactions with debt collectors as business dealings, understanding that their focus is on collecting funds as quickly as possible, and knowing he had a certain budget he had to stick to.

Show Them the Money

Reached an impasse? You may want to send the collector a payment, such as $100, suggests Ginsberg. “In some situations, collection agencies lose their commission if the file is referred to a lawyer so they will be less likely to turn the file over to the lawyer if they are receiving money,” he explains. Keep in mind that making a payment could extend the statute of limitations on an older debt and it doesn’t prevent a collector from suing you to collect. However, this could be one tactic to try if your other attempts to make good on a debt aren’t working.

Ask to Speak to a Supervisor

If a collector is trying to scare and intimidate you, write down those threats immediately and ask to talk with a supervisor. Make a note of the supervisor’s name. If you end up suing the debt collector for breaking the law in its collection efforts, “that’s how you get punitive damages,” says Florida consumer law attorney William Howard. “If it’s just Billy the crazy collector threatening you, then they’ll just fire him,” he explains.”But if you complain to their supervisor, now it’s not just their collector (that’s the problem), but their internal procedures.”

Call Their Bluff

If a debt collector is threatening to take legal action, don’t panic. It may not make sense for them financially to sue, or they may not have a strong case if you fight the lawsuit. They are counting on the fact that you don’t know that. “If the collection agency is based out of state they will almost certainly have to retain local counsel, so use that knowledge to your benefit and turn the tables on them,” Ginsberg suggests. “For example, you can say, ‘If you have to sue me, your company will have to hire a lawyer and you’ll lose out on your commission — why not accept my proposal of $XX.”

Tell Them to Take a Hike

Under federal law you have the right to ask a debt collector to stop contacting you. It’s best to put this request in writing, either by mail or by fax. “They can still sue if they want,” warns Howard. “But the majority of debt collectors aren’t set up to sue, they are set up to set you up on their autodialer and keep calling.” He notes this strategy can be particularly effective with smaller debts as many debt collectors aren’t set up to sue consumers for small amounts.

Talk With an Attorney

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a consumer law attorney or bankruptcy attorney for help. Many offer a free consultation. A consumer law attorney can tell you whether the collectors’ actions to collect from you are legal. And a bankruptcy attorney can explain what they can and cannot do to collect from you. Some attorneys offer both services.

Image: Holger.Ellgaard

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Dona Collins

    I once had a debt collector tell me – in a very nasty manner – that it was “people like me” who had caused the government to use tax money to bail out the credit card companies/major banks. I told him that I was still a taxpayer and wanted to know if they’d credited my account for my portion of the taxes used towards their bailout.

    Thankfully, life is a lot simpler now!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes the old shaming/guilt trip approach. Wonder if it ever works for them? Glad you’re doing OK now.

  • Steve

    Just joined Credit.com. My income is judgement proof. This is short version of situation. Hurt at work permanently disabled. Due to company not reporting accident I did not recieve workers compensation for months. Income went from $80,000 a year to zero. In court for over six months. Relied on very small award for next six months. I no longer could pay credit cards. I read every bit of advice on collections, bankruptcy (there is a reason for not doing this) and whatever. I started making settlement deals with collections companies and it worked right up to paying taxes on debt cancellations.The only thing I did was I started paying smaller debts first working my way up to larger debts. I have one more account that my credit report proves exists, which I am dealing with. After that there is a collection company claiming I owe money on 2 other accounts. There are no other companies claiming I owe money, just these mysterious accounts that could possibly exist but the original holder is not on my credit report. What should I do?.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It sounds like you’ve been diligent about learning your rights. Congrats on the progress you’ve made so far.

      Have you asked those two companies to validate the debt so you can figure out if it is legitimate?

  • Pingback: A Debt Collector Came After Me for $8.97 | Best Credit Repair

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

    Glad we could help, Mr. Trujillo. We do actually have a checklist — in the form of an infographic — that walks you through the steps on what to say and do when a debt collector calls. You can find it here: What To Do If a Debt Collector Calls

    Although, it looks as though the image isn’t loading properly at the moment so we’ll have someone on the tech side look into it. Def. bookmark it for your records, it’s a nice checklist to have.

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

    It depends on whether or not you live in a community property state. What state do you live in?

    To explain, if you live in a community property state, you’re typically liable for your spouse’s debt regardless of whether your name was on the credit card or not. In these cases, the collector could come after you if they’re not able to collect payment from your spouse. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. (Alaska has an optional community property provision for couples who choose to opt in.)

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

    PJ – if the debt has reached the statute of limitations, you can inform the collector (in writing) that the collection is no longer legally collectable.

    To clarify, the statute of limitations (SOL) is the length of time a creditor or debt collector can file a lawsuit against you. Typically, the statute of limitations starts when you miss your first payment and go delinquent on the debt.

    Be careful though, as many consumers confuse the credit reporting statute of limitations with debt collection statute of limitations. While most negative information is reported in your credit reports for 7 years, the statute of limitations for collectors to sue and collect a debt can actually be much longer. For example, in the state of Kentucky the SOL to collect is 15 years.

    To find a state by state listing on the statute of limitations to collect a debt, this resource may help:

    http://www.credit.com/credit_information/debt_help/statutes-of-limitations.jsp

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

    Terry – it’s true, making a token payment is a bad idea unless you plan to settle and clear the debt for good. Agreeing to a payment plan and then defaulting on that agreement again, will restart the clock and the 7 year period starts when you stop making payments again. That’s where consumers have to be careful.

    We’d also advise against the advice of ‘waiting it out’, or at the very least, making sure you’re aware of the possible repercussions if the collector decides to sue.

    To explain, if the lender decides to sue (which many collectors do), it could make the collection much worse. For one, the collection could turn into a judgment, which gives the collector more legal recourse to collect — wage garnishment (if it’s legal in your state), and/or bank account seizures. Secondly, the statute of limitations on a judgment is much longer than a regular collection, often spanning 10-20 years — and they can be renewed. In which case, it’s not a matter of them “expiring” and waiting it out. Once a debt makes it to judgment status, the only way out of the debt is to pay it or file bankruptcy. These are worse case scenarios but they do happen. The key is to know your rights and understand the process. In the end, it’s better to resolve the collection debt –settling it for less if you can– to avoid what I’ve just explained here.

    To learn more about judgments and what happens if a collector sues you for a debt, the following resources should help:

    Seven Ways to Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit
    Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report
    Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You — Now What?

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

    VCS – Not having anything in writing limits your options but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying $12,000 for a $1,500 debt. If a third-party collector is attempting to sue you for the debt, we’d urge you to read the following resource so that you’re aware of your options and take the appropriate steps to fight or resolve the debt:

    Seven Ways to Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

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

    Mark – if the hospital has agreed to a settlement, make sure you get the agreement in writing. This is very important. When you settle a debt, the data furnisher (or the entity reporting the debt) is legally obligated to report it accurately. If they don’t, you have the right to dispute it directly with the credit reporting agencies. Keep in mind, however, that settling a debt won’t remove it from your credit reports. The account will be updated to reflect that the debt was “settled” and it will remain in your credit reports until it expires, which for collections, is generally 7 years from the date the account first went into serious delinquency status — typically at the 180 day late mark.

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

    The U.S. Department of Education recently released new regulations that make it easier for consumers to discharge student loans due to disability. The new regulations went into effect on July 1, 2013. To find out more about whether or not you qualify for a total or partial discharge, you’ll want to contact your loan servicer to apply for loan forgiveness. (You can read more about loan forgiveness qualification guidelines here: http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation

    Keep in mind that there may be tax consequences (in the form of a 1099) for any forgiven or cancelled student loan debt — even due to disability. This means that you may be responsible for paying taxes on the forgiven debt unless you qualify for an insolvency exclusion.

    You can read more on these topics in the following resources:
    Disabled Student Loan Borrowers Get New Options
    The Ultimate Guide to Student Loans
    Cancelled Student Loan Debt Creates Tax Nightmare

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

    DLW – While you cannot stop a hospital from reporting a delinquent hospital bill, Credit.com does offer several resources that help consumers understand their options when dealing with medical collection debts. The following resources, while extensive, should tell you everything you need to know about medical debts and your best options for handling them:

    The Ultimate Guide to Solving Your Medical Bill Problems
    How to Fix Your Medical Bill Problems
    How to Negotiate Your Medical Bills
    Is It Ever Too Late to Negotiate a Medical Bill?

  • Matt

    My last bank had lost 2 of my paychecks, a third that they lost was located.Any the first 2 were supposedly deposited to my account with receipts, and since I mostly live off tips and only use my pay checks for stuff like rent so I never noticed that the deposits never finished completely. I tried to pay rent and they bounced the check back. My account had been nearly a grand over drafted, I took in the deposit receipts they took them from me and said they’ll look in to it, told me not to worry. A week ago I got a letter from a debt collector saying I owed the bank over 1500 bucks, I dropped the bank after the pay check incident and said I was finding another bank.
    Any suggestions?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You can certainly dispute it with the debt collector, but they aren’t likely to get involved in trying to sort out the specifics of this situation. You’ll need to go back to the bank and ask them to pull it back from collections. Then try to get it resolved. If the bank is uncooperative, consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or consulting a consumer law attorney.

  • h2oelemental

    I had lost my job and was struggling to pay my bills. I was on unemployment which is a fraction of what I normally make. I was applying for any job I could (sad part was that I could make more on unemployment than working full time). I explained the situation to the collection agencies that called and told them that I would be making payments when I had a job and could make payments. One collector got very rude with me and accused me of being a thief. I never had so much satisfaction as the day that I called up the agency and asked how much I owed. The guy on the other end got very excited and asked if I was paying off the whole amount. I said no and that I was filing bankruptcy in 45 min.

    • http://www.xnxx.com/ Fetus Sandwich

      Thank you for making something ordinarily very unsettling and anxious to research and deal with into something hilarious.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I am confused. The Abstract of Judgment comes after someone has been sued, not before…??

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Great! Thanks for sharing your success story.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Unbelievable.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    That’s an amazing success story, though it’s not typical. It depends on a lot of different factors. Still does show that some great deals can be had.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    It may depend on the interest rate they are charging. However, that’s not to say collection agencies never overcharge consumers. You may want to file a complaint with your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Don – The judgment should have been included in the bankruptcy in order to discharge it. Did you file with the help of an attorney? If so, please contact your attorney asap for advice. If you filed on your own, then you may be stuck. Again, the only way to know is to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I think it’s a great story and will be very encouraging to others who are going through financial problems and it’s terrific that you are helping others through difficult times!

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Thanks so much – and I am really glad to hear that the CFPB helped. Thanks for continuing to share your story.

  • KC

    Gerri,
    I am at odds over paying for a debt that was turned in to a collection agency by a communications company. The debt had to do with about a years worth of phone bills ($118.00) for a phone line that was installed. I will try to make this short by giving you a brief summary of what happened.
    1) I asked for a phone line/number to be moved from a previous address and was told they could do it.
    2) Later I discovered that in fact they could not move the line and I told them that I didnt want it.
    3) The line was installed anyway (at a condominium where all wiring is there they just need to turn the line on) and started billing me to the wrong address without my knowledge. I never used the line as I thought it had been cancelled by my call. Of coarse, I have no proof of this because at the time I didn’t know I needed it.
    4) I did not discover that they were billing me until I was contacted by a collection agency because of the unpaid balance for a year. That is when I discovered that the billing went to the wrong address and was returned to the comm co.
    5) I tried getting the communication company to stop the collection but they said they could do nothing since they sold the debt.
    6) I explained all this to the first collection agency and I was not contacted again though they turned it into the credit bureaus which I successfully had removed.
    7) I am now being contacted by another collection agency asking for payment for same.

    What can I do to get this handled once and for all, in your opinion. Should I just pay it and be done with it or send them a letter with this explanation and hope they sympathize (which is a laugh I am sure.)

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      KC – How old is this debt/when was the last charge assessed? What state do you live in?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I asked because I was hoping maybe it was old enough that it would fall off the credit report soon anyway. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    The only option that will really help your credit is to get the communications company to pull it back from collections so it comes off your credit reports.

    I’d suggest you look into taking them to small claims court. Make sure you prepare yourself with as much documentation as you can gather – copies of your credit reports, your credit score showing the damage, and anything else you have. If your only request is that they eliminate the balance and pull it back from collections so it no longer affects your credit scores, then hopefully they’ll decide it’s easier to work with you than to fight it.

    Let me know what happens if you decide to go this route!

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

    Certified checks protect both the business and the consumer by certifying that at the time the check was written, the account contained sufficient funds to cash the check. The bank then puts those funds aside until the payee cashes the check (thus, the check can’t bounce). Certified checks are frequently used when making down payments on vehicles or homes, and they are sometimes used in situations where the payee wants proof that the check will not bounce. And yes, it is legal for a creditor to request certified checks for payments.

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

    You shouldn’t. I can’t say it doesn’t happen – we wrote about that here. If it does. here is what we have written about it: Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

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

    Brittany – I don’t know how willing they are to negotiate. You can always try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to see if that helps.

  • Help

    I owe 2,400 in Hospital bills for a trip to the hospital I never even consented to, but since I was intoxicated they decided to do so on my behalf. It’s been two years since the fact and the bill was already sent to a collection agency. They threatened to take civil action against me in 30 days around 24 days ago. I am already in debt from student loans and I’ve been unemployed for the past 3 years to boot. This would cripple me financially and basically ruin the next 5 years of my life. What should I do? They know I am unemployed and have had trouble finding a place to live recently. Should I double check the bills from the hospital? Would any unnecessary charges be redeemable at this point? Should I tell them to take a hike? Is the amount small enough? It seems really large to me. . . .

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

      It sounds like this is not going to go away. I’d suggest you talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. It’s true the amount is very small but you need to know what your options are if they decide to sue you. If you haven’t already reviewed a detailed bill do that to make sure it is accurate. Also, were you unemployed at the time? You may have been eligible for financial assistance. Did you ask about that?

  • Rachel

    I have a credit card that has been turned into collections. I have continued to make the $100 monthly payments to the original creditor. The creditor is the bank that holds my mortgage and they have accepted each payment and applied it towards the balance. The collection agency still has the debt and said that they cannot guarantee they will not proceed legally if I do not increase the payment amount. Can they sue me if my bank is accepting payments every month? I was under the impression they could not get a judgment against me up if there has been a payment in the last 90 days.

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

      Rachel – Did you miss a payment? If so, for how many months? Are you paying less than the minimum amount due, and for how long?

      If you have not been making the required minimum payment, it is not uncommon for your account to get assigned out to collections. You would need to bring the account current, or make an agreement with the bank to pay less monthly (interest rate break), and after a time, they may bring the account current. That would prevent collection actions like you are experiencing.

      There are instances where you cannot get an account pulled back from collections. I may be able to offer more feedback if I knew the creditor and collection agency you are dealing with.

  • patti garcia

    I have just received a letter form a collection agency. I
    called the number and requested information, as I had no idea what this was
    for. I was told it was a Citibank credit card opened in 1993 and last payment
    made on 2003. I still have no idea what this is for. Why would they be contacting me nine years
    later on a $351.00 debt? I have checked
    my all three credit reports and have nothing on such a credit card, nor any
    type of blemish for this debt. Can you
    advise me on what my next course of action should be? I’m in California.

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

      Yes. Ask the collector to verify the debt. This should be written confirmation that you actually owe the debt. Definitely do not panic and pay money you don’t believe you owe because someone is threatening to ruin your credit. This Credit.com resource may be useful: The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collection. Good luck to you.

      • patti garcia

        Thanks for your response. However, it is my understanding that under the FCRC, collection accounts may be reported for seven years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. How is it that 10 years later the’re calling me about it? Is there no statute of limitations for this debt?

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

          You’re right . . .The statute of limitations is four years for most consumer debts in CA. And there is no way it should be on your credit reports at this point. You can either ignore it or send the collection agency a letter telling them not to contact you again. If they do, you should talk with a consumer law attorney.

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

    Is this money that your friend actually owes? Your friend can ask the collector for verification of the debt if that is in question. But yes, collectors do get to set the terms of repayment. Here’s a Credit.com resource that might be useful to your friend:
    Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?.

  • Sim298

    Hi I am from Jamaica and I am in the USA attending school. The plan was to get a private loan to pay back after I leave college. My brother was going to co-make the loan, so that I could finance my schooling and take care of personal expense as an international student. Things has changed and that is not available anymore. Well my school does not assist international student to get loan Sad.
    The problem is that I owe a debt back home and the creditor threaten to send collector to me. I really don’t have it. I am struggling to go to school now has all my income is finish and I am depending on scholarship for the winter term.
    I told the creditor that I am not working and is unable to pay. They still threaten to give my name to a Collector. What can the Collector do to me? and what can I do?

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

    We are consulting an expert on your behalf and hope to have some ideas for you late next week.

  • Anna

    4/21/14

    I cant get a collection agency to give me verification of debt.

    A few years ago I had 3 roommates who walked out on a lease. I did not want to do that but I had no choice. Last year I tried to rent another apartment and I was turned down. Thats when I found out about the collection agency. I contacted them June or July 2013. I told them I want to settle this.

    The guy was very nasty to me (I have a speech disability and he was rude and insulting to me) and I called at least 20 times, he would never answer the calls, and I even tried several times to leave a message.

    I let it go for a few months and in January 2014 I gave the CA permission for my mother to talk to this guy because it is almost impossible for me to talk on the telephone. Many times he was very rude to my mother.

    She tried to find out the amount I owe. I sent a fax 2/22/14 as he told
    us to, no reply. He gave my mom 2 different amounts by phone but he said we let the deadline go by (we didnt know about a deadline) and he said he would not put the amount owed in writing. My mom asked to speak to his supervisor, he said “You want to speak to my supervisor ? – Oh, you’d better get ready for this.” My mom was shocked by the nastyness so she hung up.

    On 3/3/14 my mom called to get the mailing address, the woman refused to give her the address. We sent a certified letter to 2 addresses listed online, we asked the owner of the company to tell us the amount or for him to assign another person to talk with us.

    We did receive the certified mail receipt, so we know they received the letter.

    Six weeks has gone by and still no reply.
    Last week I received a predated letter (with no postage or postmark)
    stating they need more time to work on my account.

    So what do I do if they will not verify the amount I owe? I really want to clear up this problem.

    Thank you for any help you can give me.

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

      Please talk with a consumer law attorney who regularly handles collection complaints. There is a federal law that collectors must follow – it is not optional. If they break the law they may be required to pay damages and the attorneys fees. You can find a consumer law attorney at Naca.net.

      The other option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      But I have to warn you that paying the collection account won’t take it off your credit, or even improve your credit score. Make sure you understand the statute of limitations for this debt. This article may help: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

      • Anna

        Thank you for your help.

  • Charlie

    We were renting an apartment and we left it sparkling clean at the end of the lease but the managment charged us with carpet replacement charges for no reason. We told them that you did not have us present at the time of walk through inspection of the carpet and even though, we know the carpet was spotless. It was very un ethical for the management to charge us that amount, we did not pay and they sent it over to debt collectors who eventually put it on our credit history. We now want to take new loans and our credit history is affected. What can we do? It makes us very angry having to pay that amount for no fault of ours just to remove that bad credit history record. Any suggestions?

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

      It’s a very tough situation. In most states landlords cannot charge you for normal wear and tear. Do you have any evidence or even witnesses who can attest to the condition you left it in? We’ve recently published an article about this kind of problem: How to Stop a Landlord From Ruining Your Credit

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

    Often if you default on a loan, they can accelerate the balance and demand it immediately. That may or may not be true here, but it’s a matter of landlord tenant law in your state, which you are going to have to research. You may want to start here: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chart-landlord-tenant-state-laws-29016.html

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

    What does the lease agreement say?

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

    Sometimes they cannot settle with you, or will not reduce the amount to something you can afford to pay.

    Have you talked about an affordable monthly payment? Talk to them about any financial hardship options that you might be able to qualify for.

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

    My first suggestion is that you talk with a consumer law attorney. In some cases the judgment creditor may be liable for damages for failing to take care of this in a timely manner. Another option would be to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Liz

    We have been paying off hospital bills for my husband, we have one final bill and the credit collection agency is refusing to let us make payments because we were making payments on another bill that we just paid off and they are stating we can’t make payments on the final bill because it has been in their office too long. that just doesn’t seem legit to me.

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

      It sounds like a convenient excuse to get you to try to come up with all of the money. How long has the account been in their office?

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

    File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or consult a consumer law attorney. Let us know what happens.

  • Jean

    I need some advice, I has a default on a Wonga loan payment, the Wonga loan was handed over to collection agency/attorneys, once I found this out, I immediately phoned the agency and arranged payments with them. The first month the payment has gone through successfully, the second month I ran into a bit of difficulty again, I emailed them asking for banking details, knowing that the debit order will not go through but I will make the payment about a week later myself. They tried contacting me on my cell phone regarding this however I was busy and could not answer, about 10 min later, they phoned my employer for a garnishing order against my salary. Is this even legal to do, I have not received a summons yet, I have not received any judgements against my name. All that I have received now is embarrassment with my employer at work now and him interfering in my personal life. Is this company allowed to take such action when it was one missed payment which I was willing to pay just a bit late? Thanks in advance Jean

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

      Are you in the Unites States?

  • momgoober

    JDB Slayer…is there anyway I could get an email to contact you? I could use some help as I have just started getting calls from a lawfirm.

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

    I am so sorry Kat to hear what you and your son are struggling with, but generally medical providers can turn you over to collections if your bill is delinquent. There are some exceptions for non-profit hospitals to give you time to apply for financial aid, but generally if you can’t afford to pay the bill by the due date you can be turned over to collections.

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

    It may depend on the laws of the state in which you live in. Where do you live?

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

    Our moderators are not available 24/7, and, as a result, comments are not always reviewed immediately, as was the case with your comments over the weekend. Thanks for reaching out to us.

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

    I agree with your point that there may be nothing that the creditor can come after, but I disagree with the idea of just ignoring the debt. That can result in the creditor or collector getting a judgment against the consumer. If the debtor goes back to work, inherits property or otherwise comes up with the means to pay, the judgment creditor may then be able to garnish wages, seize funds from bank account etc. In the meantime, the debt may have become larger. That’s why when someone can’t pay their bills I urge them to at least talk with a bankruptcy attorney (the first consultation is usually free) to find out what will happen if they ignore the debt.

    Thanks for weighing in!

  • Guest

    I had a judgement against me in 2010. What is the statue of limitations in Virginia to get it removed? It was filed by a bill collector and not the original issuing credit card company. thanks

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

      Can you be more specific with what you mean by getting the judgment removed? Do you mean vacated or set aside (undone in a sense)? Are you referring to credit reporting?

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

    I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you are going through. I would really encourage you to meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. They can answer your questions about what will happen when the credit card company gets a judgment against you and how to protect yourself. In some states, a judgment creditor can go after bank account or other assets so you want to be prepared. And if you are struggling with other debts, then bankruptcy may be your best option at the moment. Good luck and I hope you’re able to find a way out of this mess.

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

    Are you sure you are dealing with a legitimate company and not a scammer? 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

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

    They can still call and send you collection notices, but the statute of limitations to legitimately sue you in Washington has passed, and so has the limit to this appearing on your credit reports. Have looked at your credit reports lately?

    You can stop the calls and letters if you like, but lets make sure your credit is clear of this first.

    • John Hirsch

      They are saying that if I don’t pay on the agreement that the company will take me to small Claims court..

  • Tree

    I am being garnished and I do not know who the original creditor or creditors are

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

      Have you contacted the collector who is garnishing your wages? What type of debt is this? Do they have a judgment?

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

    If there is a judgment then they are likely able to garnish your wages. If you think the judgment was improper then you will need to get legal advice. Similarly if you can’t afford the debt or want to try to get the garnishment reduced you will want to talk with a consumer law attorney. A bankruptcy attorney should be able to advise you on your rights. Unfortunately now that it is at that point.your options are somewhat limited and you really need to get legal advice.

  • exaag

    Be very careful about acknowledging the existence of a debt or offering any sort of payment. Some companies purchase old debts for pennies on the dollar and then try to collect even though the statute of limitations for suing on the debt has expired. If you acknowledge the debt or, worse yet, send money you can actually revive the cause of action. The companies will lie to you and claim the debt is still valid and enforceable. Do not get sucked into the trap.

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

    You are not overthinking this at all. If this winds up on your credit report as a collection account it’s going to significantly affect your credit for up to seven years. Get something in writing from them before you pay them. It should state that this item is not in collections and will not affect your credit reports negatively. Make sure you also monitor your credit.
    Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

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

    I am sorry but I don’t really understand the scenario. Can you try explaining it a little more clearly? Generally if you don’t pay a debt it may be sold to another collector or they may try to sue you, depending on whether they think it is worthwhile for them to do so.

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