Sunday, April 13, 2014

When You Get a Letter From a Collection Agency


     Collection Agencies. The feared enemy. Or are they? I used to think that way. Now, after a few run ins with different collection agencies using the law as my weapon of choice, I have found some successful ways to stop them in their tracks.

     They may talk big. They may threaten you greatly. They may try to harass you. In the end, they are mostly all talk and very little action. Collection agencies may not even be able to collect debts in your state.

     The first thing you need to do if you receive a call from them is request verification of the debt. I personally wouldn't say another thing. They will try to goad you in to divulging information to support their case, but don't give in. Just politely request that they send you verification of the debt and that you will need time to review your records before you respond.

     If they mail you a letter, the clock is ticking. Once you receive the letter, you have 30 days to respond before they can put anything on your credit report. I cannot stress this enough... RESPOND IMMEDIATELY! If you procrastinate, you will probably get that entry n your credit report and will have to battle both the credit bureaus and the collection agency. I have procrastinated in the past and got hit with that entry on my credit report. It is not easy to have to get both the credit bureaus and the collection agency do your bidding. Plus all of the extra paperwork with having to deal with four companies instead of one. Remember, the goal here is to make the process as painless as possible.

     You should respond in writing and send the letter certified mail with a return receipt. This will ensure you have a paper trail if you need to take them to court later on. Below is a letter that I used that has worked very well.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Your Name
Address Line 1                       
City, State Zip

April 09, 2013
Allied Interstate LLC
P.O. Box 361567
Columbus, OH 43236-1563

Re: Account Number: 123456789

To Whom It May Concern:

I am sending this letter to you in response to a letter I received in the mail by your company. Be advised, this is not a refusal to pay, but a notice sent pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b) that your claim is disputed and validation is requested.

This is not a request for “verification” or proof of my mailing address, but a request for VALIDATION made pursuant to above named Title and Section. I respectfully request that your office provide me with competent evidence that I have any legal obligation to pay you.

Please provide me with the following:

1.      What the money you say I owe is for.
2.      Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe.
3.      Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe.
4.      Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable.
5.      Identify the original creditor.
6.      Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account.
7.      Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state.
8.      Provide me with your license numbers and Registered Agent.

If your office has reported invalidated information to any of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), said action might constitute fraud under both Federal and State Laws. Due to this fact, if any negative mark is found on any of my credit reports by your company or the company you represent I will not hesitate in bringing legal action against you for the following:

1.      Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
2.      Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
3.      Defamation of Character

If your offices are able to provide the proper documentation as requested, I will required at least 30 days to investigate this information and during such time all collection activity must cease and desist.
Also during this validation period, if any action is taken which could be considered detrimental to any of my credit reports, I will consult with my legal counsel. This includes any information to a credit reporting repository that could be inaccurate or invalidated or verifying an account as accurate when in fact there is no provided proof that it is.

If your offices fail to respond to this validation request within 30 days from the date of your receipt, all references of this account must be deleted and completely removed from my credit file and a copy of such deletion request shall be sent to me immediately.

I would also like to request, in writing, that no telephone contact be made by your offices to my home or to my place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer generated calls or correspondence sent to any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications with me MUST be done in writing and sent to the address noted in this letter.

This is an attempt to correct your records, any information obtained shall be used for that purpose.

Sincerely,

Your Name
_________________________________________________________________________________

     This letter basically stops the collection agency in its tracks. Most of the time they don't have the proper verification. They bank on you not knowing that. If it is the second or third agency to have that debt, you can almost guarantee they don't have any verification. That means they have to go back to the original creditor and get the original agreement. Nine times out of ten they won't even bother and if you sent the letter before they put it on your credit report then you've cleared that hurdle after the 30 day period they have to respond.

     I have actually used this letter for an item that is already on my credit report and I heard nothing from the company, but I noticed that the entry on my credit report disappeared. I beat them by sending only one letter that requires them to follow the law.

     These agencies, as you probably know, are unscrupulous and do not honor their word in any way unless you get what they say in writing and hold them to the law. Do not allow them to push you around. Stay calm and be patient, knowing that one slip up by them and you win.

And the Saga continues...