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From the Experts at Credit.com

Top 10 Debt Collection Rights for Consumers

by Lucy Lazarony

debt-collection-rights

Feeling strapped for cash and falling behind on monthly bills is not a fun experience. Debt issues can be hard to manage. And a collection call from a persistent creditor can makes a challenging financial situation all the more stressful.

The good news? You’ve got rights, and lots of them — thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This federal law sets down a specific set of rules that third-party debt collectors must follow when contacting you about a debt. Debts covered under this law include auto loans, medical bills and credit card bills.

Before you do anything else, check your credit. Collection accounts can have a significant impact on your credit scores so it is important to know whether they are being reported, and how they are impacting your scores. Here’s how to get your free credit reports. In addition, you should check and monitor your credit score for free with a Credit.com account.

Here are 10 important rules that a debt collector must follow when contacting you about an unpaid bill.

1. No Early Morning or Late Night Calls

A debt collector may not call you before 8am or after 9pm (in your time zone) unless you ask them to call you at a different time. Whatever debt you may owe, you still have the right to a quiet morning and a quiet evening.

2. No Calls at Work, Once You Request It

Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves of such calls. So make it clear to a debt collector straight away that calls at work are unacceptable.

3. No Repeated or Continuous Calls

Debt collectors may not harass you by calling numerous times a day about an unpaid bill.

4. No Verbal Abuse

A debt collector may not use threatening or profane language when contacting you about a debt. A debt collector may not falsely imply that you have committed a crime by failing to pay a bill.

5. No Informing Friends, Neighbors, Co-Workers, or Family Members About a Debt

A debt collector may contact people that know you, but only to find out your address, your phone number, and where you work. In most cases, a debt collector may not tell anyone other than you or your attorney that you owe money.

6. No Collecting on a Debt Larger Than the Consumer Actually Owes

A debt collector may not demand more money from you than you actually owe.

7. No Dire Threats

A debt collector may not threaten to have you arrested if you do not pay your debt. Debt collectors may not threaten to sue you, unless they actually intend to file a lawsuit.

8. A Debt Collector Must Send Written Notice of a Debt

Within five days of contacting you, a debt collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe and the name of the creditor. This notice also must explain what actions to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

9. A Debt Collector Must Honor a Written Request for No Further Contact

A debt collector must cease contact with you if you send a letter requesting that the debt collector do so. If you believe you do not owe the money, you may state this in your letter. Be aware that a legitimate debt will not go away simply because the collection calls stop. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor for the amount that you owe.

10. The Debt Collector Must Verify All Disputed Debts

Debt collectors must verify any debt that you dispute in writing prior to renewing collection calls. Once a debt collector sends you verification of the debt, collections activities may resume.

These are some of the most important consumer rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Simply informing a debt collector that you are aware of these rights may curb any errant collection behavior.

If a debt collector breaks any of these rules when contacting you about a debt, feel free to report the debt collector to your state attorney general’s office, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own collection laws and a debt collector who violates the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may be violating state collection laws as well. Your state attorney general’s office will be able to inform of your rights.

The Consumer Action website from the Federal Citizen Information Center includes links to state and local consumer protection agencies around the country, including state attorney general offices.

You may also report any problems you encounter with a particular debt collector to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

For help with handling collection calls, you may want to contact an attorney. Once you hire an attorney, a debt collection agency must contact your attorney and not you.

LawHelp.org connects low- and moderate-income people with free legal aid programs in their communities. And a consumer guide from the American Bar Association, provides a directory of legal resources available in each state.

You may be able to find an attorney experienced with debt collection through the National Association of Consumer Advocates. This non-profit association of attorneys and consumer advocates has members throughout the country.

Find Out Where You Stand

Remember the very first person who must stand up for your debt collection rights is you. So don’t let a debt collector intimidate you or harass you with unfair and illegal tactics. Dealing with a debt collector who plays by the rules may be a stressful experience as well. If you need specific assistance and advice, contact an attorney. To find out exactly how much debt you have and to see your credit score, you can use Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card. You can check your credit each month with this completely free tool and see a break down of your credit score with grades for everything affecting your credit score, including your total amount of debt.


  • heavyw8t

    I have an OLD credit card that went to collection for a while, and then the debt was written off as a loss. It was an Elan credit card, issued by some bank in North Dakota I think, maybe South. One of those Dakotas. That debt, when it hit 91 days past due, was sold off to Cohen and Associates. They called me so often (I always let calls from numbers not in my contacts go to voice mail) and left me terribly abusive and angry messages. I finally once called them back to tell them that they would not be seeing any money from me, ever, and then followed up with a letter informing them that they are not to call me. This was all like 2012 this went on. That old $1852.xx debt is still showing up on my credit report. Given the age of the debt, is it in my best interested to pay it off? Once it is written off, who would I call, Elan or Cohen?

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

      How old is the debt (date you last made a payment)?
      What state are you in?

      The answer to those two questions will help to better answer how much of your interests are served by resolving the debt.

      I would start by contacting the last known collector. Is this the only
      account you have that has gone into collection? If so, you may be able
      to determine who has the debt by the inquiries being made to your
      credit.

      • heavyw8t

        I am in Ohio. The balance is $1832, though over $300 of that is late fees. The last payment was made April 2012. It was passed off to Philips & Cohen soon after. They called me as often as 3 times a day, often while I was at work and could not take calls, and left me increasingly nasty threatening voice mails. It started with “Call me about a personal business matter” and progressed to “If you don’t pay this debt we WILL prosecute and see you in court.” At that point I sent them a letter informing them that under my rights as stated in the FDCA they were to stop calling me and contact me by mail only. I never heard another thing from them. Now when I pull my credit report (which I did on 4-14-14) that debt still shows up as being owed. I would happily work out a payment plan with the ORIGINAL lender (some credit card called Elan – I got it through Key Bank and it changed hands several times) for the original amount owed but not the late fees. This company was informed 3 times that due to the job loss I would not be able to make payments until things turned around for me. They never responded. Never. All I got was the computerized bills telling me that I was late paying. When I finally called them I was told that it was sent to a collection agency and that Elan would have no further dealings with me.

        I had a total of 4 revolving accounts that went south. 1 settled for about 35% of what was owed. 2 went to court. Those 2 were handed off to a trustee here in Ohio and I worked out payments with them. They have both long been paid to $0. That last one is this Elan thing and I would like to make that go away. I called them as recently as 3 weeks ago and was told that the account was closed as a write off. So in essence, they said “We don’t want your money”, yet I can’t get the thing off my credit report. What else can I do here? It is currently the only money owed on my credit file.

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

          It is often best to settle a debt this far gone for as much savings as possible. Depending on who you learn has the account, I would target roughly 35 to 40% in a single lump sum payment (withholding payment until you get everything you negotiated in writing).

          When you see the account reported by the original creditor on your reports, does it show a balance due, or does it reflect zero? If zero, can you recognize any known debt collectors as having made credit inquiries in the last 3 to 6 months?

          • heavyw8t

            It shows with a balance due, but it also shows “Potentially Negative – Closed” and “Charged off as bad debt”. The balance shown includes late fees, which is what the billing system computer provided. but the original debt was $1488 rather than $1832. If they’d take $350-400 in settlement, I would pay it off on June 1! My demands are that they state in writing that they will report this as having a $0 balance.

            Other info that may or may not be pertinent is that it was opened June 2006 and payment was perfect until I lost my job in May 2011. After that I paid like every 3rd month or so but it went under totally by spring of 2012. At 90 days they sold it to the collection agency. I will try to call the original lender (again) and see what they tell me.

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

            The original lender should be able to put you in touch with who they have it placed with for collection. I do not think it is sold off to anyone, as your comment reads like the original creditor is still showing the balance owed them (if sold it would have to show zero balanced owed them, as they would have sold their rights to the debt).

            Word your negotiations carefully. I would not go at it making demands. Fact is, what you need from this to happen, the credit report to show $0 balance owed, is required of them after accepting less than the balance owed, but as payment in full.

          • Joy Campbell

            It will most likely stay on your credit report until 10 years from the last payment you made.

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

    Can you please elaborate on the situation? Dates? What’s involved? Was it a participating provider in your insurance network?

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

    You can contact the collector to settle and get the end result you are looking for.

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

    Is this a non-profit hospital? Have you asked them about how to apply for their financial aid program? If it is a non-profit hospital they must provide you with that information and give you the opportunity to apply. We wrote about that here: Can Obamacare Keep Debt Collectors Out of Hospitals?

  • annieberk

    Three years ago today, 5/13/11, I lost my father. I had quiet my job 7 months previously to bring him into my home and care for him fulltime. He had Alzheimer’s. We literally lived off of his Social Security check during this time. Within a few months after he died, I could no longer pay my monthly bills because I was unemployed. I began having health problems, beginning with severe depression. It was debilitating. I then found out I had a brain tumor, diabetes, high blood pressure, and began have seizure activity from the brain tumor (which has not been removed as of yet). I filed for disability and it was approved within 4 months of filing. The point …. I had several credit cards that I was paying on time until after my dad died. So basically that’s been almost 3 years. I live in Maryland. I now live off of $845 monthly, and am living in a HUD based apt. building. I am unable to make the payments on any of these cards. I get calls everyday. I explain my situation each time. I offer to send proof of disability, etc., but am told that’s not necessary. The calls still keep coming. Do I have any recourse? Prior to this three year period, I was a fulltime working individual … had worked since I was 16, and am 58 now. I’ve never been one to run from debts, etc., but the truth is … I cannot pay them. Is there anything I can do to make this stop? Thank you for your help.

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

      Annie –
      Please accept our condolences on the anniversary of the loss of your father. We’re also sorry to hear of your current financial predicament.

      In answer to your question, yes, the collection agents must stop calling if you request it (there are some reasons you might not want to, but it sounds as if they may not apply in your case; you can read about them and decide). You might want to make your request via certified letter, so that you have proof it was received. If the calls continue, you could consider reporting the collector to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or calling a consumer law attorney (in many cases, an initial consultation is free).
      Here are some Credit.com resources you may find useful:
      T8 Things Debt Collectors Won’t Tell You
      The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

  • karen sheppeard

    I was found disabled and recieved my disability in 2008. At that time, I contacted all the people I owed money to, and made offers to settle accounts with a payoff amount and consider it closed. All of the companies took the offers except one. Citi Financial, whom I owed about $2300 I think. It’s been so long I don’t really remember the exact amount. Anyway, Citi sold their company to another company, who is now trying to sue me for the balance of that loan. I know they have 6 years in my state inwhich to do this. But from my understanding of it, it has to be 6 years from the origional defaulted payment. As I stated, I made an offer to them and they refused it, I don’t remember how much I offered them, it was so long ago. How do I know this new company hasn’t changed the information on my account with Citi? How do I know they understand I tried to make a payoff offer? Anyway, I have a court hearing on the 29th of May, in Superior court, I live in Vermont.

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

    Are you sure it’s reporting as a new collection account? The reporting for collection accounts can be confusing? Can you copy and paste the tradeline here? (Without any identifying info?)

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

    It’s not your responsibility to prove that the account is not yours. Either they have you mixed up with someone else or someone used your information to apply for credit.

    You can simply send the collection agency a certified letter stating that you have never had this type of account and that the debt is not yours. Ask them to verify the debt. If they can’t straighten it out, then send them a letter telling them not to contact you again.

    If the problems persist, consult a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And make sure to check and monitor your credit.
    Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. You can monitor your credit score for free each month as well.

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

    Jane —
    We know of no statute of limitations that is that long. What your grandmother should do is write to the collection agency and tell them she does not want to be contacted again — and she should keep a copy of the letter. It’s also a good idea to send it certified mail, so that she’ll have proof that her request for no further contact was received.

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

    When you say a lawyer’s office, do you meant a debt collector? If you do, you have a right to ask the collector to verify the debt. They must respond in writing, within 30 days of your request (it’s smart for you to send your request certified mail to give you evidence your request was received). This post may give you some direction about how to proceed:
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

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

    Talk with a consumer law attorney. The collector may be violating the law by failing to validate the debt and a consumer law attorney may be willing to help you for free. (The collection agency would have to pay their attorney fees if you prevail.)

    As for your credit report, dispute it with the credit reporting agencies reporting it – and so do in writing (not online). If it is not removed and it turns out the debt is not valid you may have a credit damage lawsuit as well. You’ll find more details here:

    A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    Absolutely. If you have it in writing talk with them and ask them to expedite the process.

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

    I am with you on the gutters, or a variety of other things to spend money on. I do not have to look very hard to find a new priority for money. But here are some benefits to knocking this down (settling for that 30 to 35%).

    Some form of financing you may seek in the next five years may require this debt be resolved. And if not resolved, priced differently because it is unresolved (higher interest rate than would have been the case).

    You could be sued for collection, which will mean a higher cost to resolve.

    I am not sure why a recovery specialist at Elan would tell you that they are willing to settle with you, where everyone agrees the debt is resolved (just for less), but still report an amount due on your credit. That is not my experience.

  • NicoleG

    I’m trying to find information regarding what kinds of business can send your bill to collections. I recently had my floors refinished, but because of the poor quality, I’m refusing to pay the full balance, although I did pay for half of the bill up front. If I continue to refuse, could they send the remaining balance to collections? If so, what are the rules in them doing so? For example, do they have to send me three bills before they can involve a collections agency? I’ve only received one thus far. Thanks!

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

      I am not aware of any collection policy that requires three notices be sent prior to placing the account with outside collections. There may be something in your state laws that require some type of default notice and right to cure etc. Your best resource would be speaking with an attorney licensed in your state, whose practice centers on consumer law, and with a focus on debt collection.

  • brittney

    I had someone call me and say that I barrowed money from a cash advance in 2010 and it went to collections the woman said it came out of collections because I didn’t pay it now there company has it and its for 300$ but they said I have to pay 567$ and that they can take me to court and I could go to jail. Can something really come out of collections?

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

      Legitimate debt collectors do not threaten you with jail. What is the name of the collection agency contacting you?

  • Austin

    I hit a road sign in 2010. I hired an attorney to make sure the ticket i received stayed off my record but was not informed that i had to pay for the road sign. Now that I am wanting to get a car loan my bank has just informed me that I owe a debt collection agency $160.00 which is making my credit look terrible because that is the only thing i have on my credit record. Is there anything I can do to get this off my record rather than just paying the $160.00? I ask because my bank is giving me the highest interest rate they have for my car loan which is 16.9% which is clearly terrible and not something I want to do. Also, I just got a credit card but that is also set at a 16.9% interest rate which I’m hoping I can get reduced if I fix that pending debt on my record.

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

      Have you contacted the attorney to see what he or she recommends? If the lawyer can’t help, you should get in touch with the debt collector, explain that you were never aware that you owed the bill, and, given the circumstances, whether the agency would delete the negative information from your credit report. If they don’t agree to do this, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      You may also want to check with the municipality/county/state where this occurred to see what the policies are on notifying people of a fee for replacing a road sign. Please let us know what happens.

      It is also a problem that there is nothing else in your credit report. Without any information, lenders can’t evaluate your creditworthiness (and will likely charge you very high interest rates). Paying your credit card on time and keeping the amount you spend relative to your credit limit low (less than 30%) should help your credit scores.

      Here are some Credit.com resources that may help:
      Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?
      Have You Become a Credit Ghost?
      How Long Does Negative Info Stay on My Credit Report?

  • Trina

    Got a bill from collection agency saying I owe $ from a auto ins. policy I cancelled Over a year ago. Auto Ins. co. never contacted me about this. I cancelled the policy and even got a refund, Co. has since been bought and new co. says I owe it. I told the collection agency all this and she says they will look into it. I even sent them a copy of payment history showing I got a refund.
    What if anything can I do about this?

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

      So you disputed this in writing with the collection agency? If not, do that immediately via certified mail and keep a copy for your records. Also please get your free annual credit reports to see if this has been reported.

  • crs

    apparently i have a cell phone bill from 2009 that was never paid (I was not aware of it) and it was just put against my credit 3 days ago. This “debt” is almost 6 years old. Is there anything i can do?

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

      If the debt is legitimate then it can be reported. But if I were you, I’d first dispute the debt in writing (as described in this article) to make sure it’s correct and that it is your debt. This could be a scammer or a debt buyer who has the wrong person.

      To clarify, dispute it with the credit reporting agency in writing; and also contact the collection agency separately for documentation.

      Let us know what happens.

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

    They may try to contact you but that doesn’t mean you have to pay. If the statute of limitations has expired, you may want to tell them not to contact you again. We just wrote about this scenario: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

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

    Some consumer law attorneys do demand that collectors prove what debtors owe if they are sued for a debt. We wrote about that here: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

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

    Clyde – I would suggest you either file a complaint about the collection agency with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a consumer law attorney. They are supposed to respond to your dispute within 30 days.

    As for why they haven’t taken action on the debt, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. They may have incorrect contact info for you, or this may not be a priority account.

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

    I would urge you to talk with a consumer law attorney to see if she is breaking any laws by discussing your debt with your current landlord. She may well be.

  • Olivia

    A couple months ago, I took my son and daughter along with myself to a new dentist in town for a routine cleaning and x-rays. They had mailed out promotion post cards stating that they would give each new patient (over age of 18) a $50 Wal-Mart gift card. Only disclaimer was that the visit had to include a cleaning and full x-rays – all of which we did. My insurance company pays 100% of routine cleanings and x-rays. My daughter was not eligible for the promotion because she is not 18. However, my son and I were eligible and we both received a gift card.

    A few weeks later, I get an invoice in the amount of $124 from the dentist. I called to ask what it was for, and they told me it was the amount that my insurance company did not cover for me and my son. Mind you, my daughter had the exact same procedures we did and they didn’t try to collect anything from her visit. I pulled my explanation of benefits from my insurance website and it showed that they paid 100% of the negotiated rate that the dentist had billed. My insurance company even went so far as to contact the dentist office for me to see what the fees were for. The dentist then told them it was because we took advantage of the promotion – something she never told me.

    Shortly after this, I received another bill from the dentist now showing I only owed $64. Not sure why there was a difference in the amount owed.
    Within the next few days, the dentist office called me and told me I only owed $43 and I needed to pay it over the phone immediately. I told her I wasn’t going to pay it unless she provided me an itemized bill showing why I would owe anything. She then threatened to send it to collections as well as add more fees to the balance. I told her I would be happy to fight it in court.
    A week later, I received a collection letter from Transworld in the amount of $64. I sent them a dispute letter requesting validation. I sent it certified mail and received a copy of their signature of receipt on the 16th. A few days later, I get another letter from Transworld stating that they had attempted to contact me but couldn’t and again requested I pay $64.
    Any tips on what I should do now?

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

      I would suggest you contact a consumer law attorney – the collection agency may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. As for the dentist, if I were in your shoes I’d complain everywhere possible – your state attorney general or consumer protection office, the Better Business Bureau etc.

      And please be sure to check your
      free annual credit reports and monitor your credit scores. Here’s how to get your free credit score. If this shows up on your credit reports your scores may drop and your credit may be damaged as well.

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

    You could talk to a consumer law attorney, or you could submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.coralseamercantile.com.au Coral Mercintile

    Very nice topic discussed about debt collection rights for customers as most of customers don’t know about their right. good work Thanks

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

    Good point!

  • John

    Hi Gerri, just over a year ago, I had a situation with a car rental that got into an accident – my name was on the rental. After getting contacted by their claims department, I responded by asking for all the information I needed to process the claim for my employers credit card insurance (which provided accident coverage). I sent multiple follow up emails (which I still have) and called and left voicemails dozens of times (which I’m guessing is too long ago to prove on my phone) to the person handling the claim, every time he did not pick up. I’ve also spoken to a few other people who said that he is the only one who can process the claim. I also emailed a separate email address from the car rental companies website, and received a response that they needed more information from me to get the information I needed from them. I gave them the information they needed and again, after multiple follow up emails, no response. I thought that it was ridiculous that I was the one trying to contact them over and over to process the claim, so I decided to move on and wait until they contact me.
    Fast forward till now, I’m getting collection calls for the damages, and I no longer work for that employer (who I believe canceled that credit card that had the insurance). For whatever reason, they never charged the credit card on file for the damages. How should I go about approaching this? Thanks for your help in advance!

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

      Ah not good. Who is the car rental company?

  • kay

    This is good to know as I just recieved a threat of getting a felony for a delinquint card from 2008. A FELONY???? I filed bankrupcty back in 2012 but apparently they didn’t get the memo. I’m still shaking though from the thought of a felony from being young and wreckless with money.

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

      Unfortunately those threats do work which is why the scammers keep making them.

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

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I just wrote an article warning about the scenarios you described:
    What Happens If I Ignore Debt Collectors?

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

    If it is the creditor – and not a 3rd party debt collector – the rules of the FDCPA don’t apply (unless you happen to live in a state like California that has similar rules that apply to creditors.)

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

    Laycie – It sounds like they were reneging on their verbal agreement. Of course it’s *always* best to get these agrements in writing, but if he doesn’t have that, then I’d suggest he file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The creditor may back down after that.

  • JB

    I am trying to hire a collections agency to collect on small claims case I won. Any suggestions of agencies to go throgh

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

      You would likely find a company that meets your criteria through ACA International (large association for collection companies).

    • saldiven

      It might be easier to hire an attorney to collect it for you; a lot of small collection agencies are just an attorney’s office, anyway.
      Though, getting the judgment is the easy part. Collecting on the debt afterwards is the pain in the behind.

  • angel

    Hi Gerri I have a medical bill from March 2013 that was sent to collections from a contracting company of a hospital after having the wrong address and phone number and wrong insurance to file, even after updating all of that with the hospital before procedure. Therefore I have to this day never received a letter from either company about the debt. I actually found out about this debt applying for a credit card and I personally had to call both companies to retain info over the phone. I sent an appeal to my insurance about the situation and they approved my appeal stating that I have no responsibility for any charges whatsoever and that they were also not going pay anything due to timely filing. But my claim is still in collections, and now I’m wondering if they are responsible for clearing it out of collections due to the approved appeal from insurance that I owe nothing and am not responsible for any charges?

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

      Angel – I can’t point to a specific law that says “yes” they must pull it back from collections, but it definitely sounds like it is the right thing for them to do. You don’t owe it due to their billing error. The only surefire way to get it off your credit is to get the provider that placed it for collections to pull it back out of collections. I’d suggest you send a written request (via certified mail) to the company insisting that they pull it back from collections and let them know you will be contacting a consumer law attorney if they don’t.

      Will you let us know what happens?

  • rosy

    I have a debt with a collection agency, i have been making my payments on time sometimes early and recently doubled my payment but they still calling me about paying more but i cant afford any more than i am paying they ring me several times a day while i am at work but i dont answer as i am not permitted to take personal calls so when i dont answer they then track a family member about contacting me. I feel i am being harrassed. I can understand if i was not making payments or if i were behind but i am not. Please Help.

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

      It sounds like what they are doing is illegal. If you tell them not to call you at work they must stop. And if they already know your location contacting third parties, like family members, is illegal as well. You may be entitled to damages and they will have to pay your attorney’s fees if they are found to be in violation of federal law. Please contact a consumer law attorney with experience in FDCPA matters asap.

  • Darlene

    Hi there. I just received a bill from a collection agency that I was not aware of. When I called to find out information this bill is from March of 2007. I was told that I needed to contact the Original Creditor to receive any information on this account. I was also told the Kentucky also has a 10 year statute. I thought it was 7 years to collect. Since this is the first time I have even been contacted in regards to this bill, I am not sure it is legit. Can you tell me the statute for Kentucky as I can not find any information on it. Thank you.

  • Lenny

    Just a couple weeks ago I received a letter in the mail from my mother. (Who I currently live with after losing everything due to health reasons) the letter waa for a court date stating the form court document and another stating options I could go off on (ex; dispute it file a claim against them, extention tor additional cost, If I fail to appear etc) well I put the lettr aside and rread it all small print, everything just to know really what this was about. Well its a summons. Im getting sued. Was never served and have Not heard about this for at Least 3years. It is a 3rd part company. I blieve it is from a credit card that got sent to collection now sent to whoever these ppl are. I was never contacted b4 this for years not warned nothing. Just all of a sudden this BAM in the mail u got court on this day and u owe this much plus $70.oo file fee. No explanation just what I just exaplained what it is. What is the deal with this info can u help me with my options what to do etc. Its not lile its thousands never asked to take care , settle, make a deal , nothin. I mean I could of had this court stuff prevented if known this is what it is. Its a 530.oo$ plus court fee over 6hundrerd. Just crazy. Let me know what u get put of this I would appreciate the knowledge. ! Thank you, Lenny

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

      Lenny – It may be that in your state you can be notified of this type of lawsuit by mail. They may not have to send a process server to serve you in person. (I am not saying that IS the case but it may well be the case) We wrote about possible defenses to a debt collection lawsuit in this article: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

  • CaseyK

    I have a loan with Dyck O’Neal and they have stopped sending me invoices. I had offered to settle the loan in February for 10% of current value but they did not respond. Now, they have stopped invoicing me. Should I continue to pay?

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

      Can you offer more details with regard to the loan? Was this a defaulted HELOC, 2nd, other? How long have you been sending in payments? Was this agreement mutual?

  • margi scala

    My husband was on medical leave of absence from his work as a truck driver in Calif. He was paying his medical (not cobra) insurance on a monthly basis. We could not afford it anymore so he wrote a letter and an email to the benefit coordinator and told him he will stop his insurance the beginning of May. He did not use his medical ins in May either. So now his company is sending him a bill for May insurance payment and says if he does not pay by June 15th it will go to a collection agency. He did not sign anything saying he had to give any type of notice nor did he receive in writing anything to say he had to give notice in a certain amount of time. What is your advice?

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

      Contact the plan provider and the HR department for his company and find out what part of the policy they are relying on to send this to collections. When you have that verbiage, please post it in a follow up comment and lets go from there.

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

    Tommy – You should never pay for a debt you don’t owe. The debt collector was obligated to send you written verification of the debt and the fact that they pressured you to make a “good faith” payment when you said the debt was not yours may be illegal. I’d recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney with expertise in debt collection cases asap. If they collection agency is breaking the law they may have to pay you damages as well as pay your attorney’s fees. Visit Naca.net to find one in your area.

  • Connie

    Can a dental office impose extra charges to a bill such as carrying charges, certified letter charges, and collection fee of about 33%?

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

      Maybe. It depends on the contract and state law. We wrote about that here (although that story is about debt collectors): Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt?

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

    You will want to look at your contract with the gym to find out what could happen if you don’t pay. Unfortunately, gyms often have contracts that are not very consumer-friendly. But if you are hoping that if you ignore it nothing will come of it, there is a good chance you are mistaken.

    Here are some Credit.com resources that might be useful

    Will Your Gym Membership Ruin Your Credit?
    6 Gym Membership Gotchas
    A Debt Collector Came After Me for $8.97

  • Ashley

    In 2011, I was attempting to move into a new apartment complex but was told I needed a new cosigner on my lease, which I could not provide. After telling them I couldn’t do so and would be making other arrangements, they wanted me to pay an absurd amount of money to cancel a lease on an apartment they said I couldn’t move into. I was then sent to collections and reported to the credit bureaus. It is still causing an issue for me today. What are my options and how can I dispute this?

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

      Ashley – I am not sure what your rights are here. It’s confusing because it sounds like you signed a lease but they they tried to modify the lease and you didn’t agree. You’ll need to look into landlord tenant laws in your state. There may be a housing commission that can help you understand your rights here: state landlord tenant laws

      In the meantime, you have the right to dispute the collection account. You can send a written dispute to the collection agency (with proof of delivery) stating that you don’t believe you owe this debt and asking them to validate it. It doesn’t make the collection account go away but it will require them to look into it in more detail.

      I also suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney about your rights here. You can visit NACA.net for a referral.

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

    It is generally five years for most consumer debts, however, please don’t take that as legal advice.

    As for the card where you are an authorized user those usually do appear on credit reports. Is it reporting negative information? Have you tried to get removed as an authorized user?

  • RosaD

    Hi, I made a payment arrangement with a collection agency. I have kept up my payments without any misses for 5 months. The collection agency is still reporting “Failure to Pay” on my credit report for those months. I contacted the collection agency and they said they will continue to report such until the full balance is paid. Do they have the right to do so?

  • clerickolter .

    I owe lots of medical debts and applied for Medicaid in Florida and started my SSI application process if I researched right disability income is exempt from collections in the case of those kinds of debts. So am not that worried at this point the money will go on the government access card so its clear its only SSI money, so there will be nothing to collect on if I get SSI. Its actually sad if the state expanded Medicaid which I qualified for easily the providers would have gotten something for their work. But how am I supposed to pay $30,000+ in debt with no income and later $721 a month and my father since I live with him will get 60% of that.

    I’m just notifying each debtor I cannot pay, my situation and let them decide if they want to go to collections but I’m a pauper.

  • revedumc

    In 2012 I occurred a medical bill for $2147. Since I had no insurance at the time I started paying the bill monthly. I have kept up with those payments. On 4-25 I received a notice that this has been referred to collections for the sum of $909. I have had no response from the drs. billing company, even though I asked each month for an accounting of this bill. I paid the monthly payment again in May, to the drs. billing office and they cashed the check. The problem comes from the collection co. I have had no conversation written or otherwise to this debt and they have reported it to the credit bureaus as a bad debt. How do I get them to remove this information as I feel that the drs. billing company is still accepting my payments and the collection co has made no attempt to contact me.

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

      I have no easy solution for you here. The medical provider isn’t obligated to finance your bill for you and unless you had some written arrangement to accept payments, they were probably at liberty to turn the balance over to collections at any point. At the same time, they probably collect less that way since they have to pay the collection agency for their services. (Though it is possible the collection agency will charge you more to cover their services, depending on what is legal in your state.)

      Have you tried going to the doctor’s office to see if there is someone there you can talk with? Be polite and friendly. Explain that if they can pull it back from collections you will be able to pay them the full amount, and if they turn it over to collections they will collect less money.

      It’s possible the billing is done by a third party service and the doctor’s office has no idea how they are handling these situations. In that case, it would make sense for you to bring it to their attention that they are damaging your credit even though you are making payments.

      Your goal should be to get the account pulled back from collections as that’s the only way virtually guaranteed way to get it off your credit reports. Read more here: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      If you haven’t done so already, please get your free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com and monitor your credit scores for free at Credit.com so you can see how this is impacting your credit.

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

    It depends on which kind of disability check it is . . . but in general, no. You’ll find more information here:

    Can a Debt Collector Come After My Social Security

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

    Ugh! I dread these kinds of questions because there is no easy steps. However, if Comcast sent you a letter stating the account was zero’d out then they no doubt have it on file.

    The first thing you need to do it get your free annual credit reports to see if the collection account is listed. (Even if it isn’t I would also recommend you monitor your free credit score in case it shows up later.)

    If it is on your credit reports, do not dispute it online. Come back here and I’ll walk you through next steps.

    Have you talked with the collection agency? Given the circumstances they may be willing to agree to remove it from your credit/agree not to report it if you pay it. State very clearly that you don’t believe you owe it but you don’t want to hurt your credit. If they will do that – and give it to you in writing – that may be your easiest route. I know it doesn’t feel right but the main thing in my view is protecting your credit scores as one collection account can drop your scores significantly.

    If it is on your credit already and the collection agency won’t work with you, let me know.

    This isn’t legal advice and you may want to consult an attorney to learn your rights.

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

    I am sorry but I don’t understand the situation. You closed your checking account and you say you didn’t get the full amount back. Did you owe overdraft fees or other charges? Did the bank manager explain why they turned this over to collections? What did she say?

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

    As you might suspect, you’re not the only one who has experienced this — and it can be difficult to solve. We’ve written about it before. Perhaps the post (or the comments that follow) can be useful to you.
    Getting Collection Calls for Someone Else? Here’s What to Do

    • Al

      I went through exactly the same thing when I got a local land line in AZ. There were multiple names that they were calling for and I would tell them that person wasn’t at that number but they continued to call. The calls were from two or three different states. I would get one collection agency to take the number off of the list, and then another would start. Some were even from municipalities. I would leave for a couple of months, and the answering machine would be filled with calls within 3 days. Over 40 calls. I got so sick of it I called the phone company and had the number changed and was told the new number wouldn’t be reported as a change since I had explained the reason for the change. So far it is working, but we will see.

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

    A consumer law attorney who handles TCPA violations will be more than happy to help you. Sounds like you may have several.

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

    Is this a payday loan by chance? What state do you live in?

  • Erik

    I just received a notice that I had a account in collections. It was from a mess up from a hospital bill where they didn’t make me aware that I would need to pay a separate bill from the ER bill. I called the collector and apparently they have had it since 2010 but never once contacted me or sent me a notification, which the agent I spoke to even admitted they had not. I was a bit astonished that they could hold something over my head since 2010 without notifying me.

    Also while I was on the phone with them they asked me about a family member, whether or not we were related. I wasn’t thinking and didn’t understand why they were asking so when they asked me if my number was a good one to reach them at I told them no and gave them the right number. Then they said it was because they also had a debt to be collected.

    I know after reading this article that they’ve violated two of the things listed above, is this something worth bringing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission?

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

      In the first situation you describe, I am not aware of any requirement that they notify you that the account is collections. It’s only if they initially contact you by phone that they must send you written notification of the debt within 5 days. If they did not, then that’s likely a FDCPA violation. In the second situation, they can only contact relatives to get contact information but they can’t discuss the debt. I would surmise that the fact that they told you about the debt would be an FDCPA violation. You may want to talk with an attorney.

      With regard to the first issue, we hear so many complaints from people who first find out about a medical bill from a collection agency; it’s nuts. Now you have to figure out whether it’s correct, whether you owe it (was insurance billed or should it have been?), etc. I’d suggest you contact the original medical provider and try to find out why it wasn’t billed to you in the first place and to get a copy of the original bill. In the meantime, you do have the right to dispute it with the collection agency if you aren’t sure if it is correct (do so in writing, certified mail).

      This may help: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      Whichever route you go, I’d encourage you to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to check and monitor your credit report and your credit score.

  • Rebecca

    yes, they can call you the next day. once you ask them to DNC (do not contact) your job they need to stop. you can call their corp office. they can call your cell phone once in the morning and once in the afternoon per day.
    please remember to always use DNC,call,contact or come by your job!

  • Bobbi

    I was just informed (via phone call from a collection agency) of an outstanding debt from my past apartment complex. I broke my lease on April 28 due to a change in military orders and paid rent through May 31. When I called the apartment complex today to dispute this, they are claiming my orders were insufficient to break the lease, however my feeling is that they lost the orders all together. I never received a notice from the apartment complex informing me that my orders were insufficient despite multiple phone calls to the office prior to departing and being told “they were working on it.” I unfortunately have none of this in writing, but do I have any rights or protection based on their lack of communication and the Servicemember’ Civil Relief Act?

    • saldiven

      It’s going to largely be up to the wording of the lease as well as the desire of the leasing company to work with you. At the very least, you should get a copy of the lease you signed to read through the guidelines involving breaking the contract.

      As far as the SCRA, here’s a quote from the US military’s web site on that subject:

      “The SCRA allows individuals to break a lease when they go onto active duty, if the lease was entered into before going onto active duty. Additionally, the act allows a servicemember to terminate a residential lease entered into while in the military, if the member receives permanent change of station (PCS) orders, or orders to deploy for a period of not less than 90 days.”
      After that, it goes on to discuss how to break a lease under the SCRA (if your situation matches the restrictions above). I found this by google searching “breaking a lease military.” It was one of the first couple of links.

    • Lisa Sidle Barone

      you are protected under the fair sailors act. If you indeed had pcs orders to transfer , you are not held to your lease. I’m sure you can get another copy of your orders. also talk to legal for your branch of service. They can draft up a letter to the apartment complex informing them of the law. You don’t even need to have the military clause in your lease agreement. it’s a federal law.

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

    What kind of bills are these? How old are they?

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

    Who is “they?” The collection agency or the merchant?

  • frustrated

    I received a call from a debt collector for a loan that I forgot about from 2011. it was a payday loan for $300.00, the caller threaten to come to my job and have me arrested on my job. They stated that I had to make my payment in full with interest by giving them my credid card number. I’ve asked it i can mail a payment in using a cashiers check or money order and they demanded that it be paid by phone only. the original person that I was speaking with then put an attorney on the phone and they were just as rude and demnding about my credit card number they even called me a criminal. I would love to pay off any debt that i owe. i dont want to lose my job or even be arrested. now the 300 loan is 600 dollars and if it goes to court the lawyer said it will be over 2000 dollars…
    help with some kind of guidance

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

      Do you agree that the debt is genuine? Payday loans often have to be rolled over every few weeks if they are not repaid. But please don’t give these people your credit number or any other financial account number. And there is no reason we know for someone to accept payment by phone only; that sounds like a tactic to scare you into handing over money before you do any investigating. It’s possible you are being scammed. Take a look at your free annual credit reports and see if the debt is listed. (Checking this is a good habit to get in anyway.)

      Read more here, and be sure that the debt AND the collector are legitimate.
      The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
      9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

      And please let us know what happens.

  • Celena

    I have a woman posing as a “locator” and she calls my job continuously. I was on vacation and she spoke to my boss, who when i returned didn’t mention it to me. Well she called again and asked for him, I asked who she was and when she said her name i recognized it. I told her she was not permitted to call her and she kept insisting that she could. When I told her that I knew the whole thing was a scam she continued to say that she would be showing up at my place of employment or home to serve me with documents. Then something that she said clicked in my head, if she needed to serve me and she is a locator wouldn’t she know where I live already? Now it has just become to the point of nuisance and not sure what more to do.

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

      That’s the problem with these scammers. They don’t care about consumer protections because they are usually based overseas. You might get some ideas from this article: How to Beat Debt Collection Scammers at Their Game.

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

    I do not know. You can check into this with an experienced FDCPA consumer law attorney in your state. Try to locate one using the search features at http://www.naca.net after clicking the “find attorney” tab. You should be able to get a no cost initial consult, and get a ready answer to your question once you outline what you have here.

    If the FDCPA, or your state law equivalent cannot be applied, the attorney may be able to suggest some other angles to pursue.

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

    Jerry – You need to talk with a consumer law attorney. If you were not properly served notice of the lawsuit then you may be able to try to vacate the judgment. At a minimum, the attorney can explain what options the judgment creditor has to collect from you (and what property is “exempt” or safe from creditors). Visit NACA.net for a referral to one in your area.

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

    Unfortunately they don’t have to notify you. The first step you need to do is to contact the collection agency and ask them to send you written information about the debt. With that, you may be able to at least identify what it is for. Once you have, come back here and let me know.

  • franscott

    I have been making payments on a medical bill and now they have turned me over to a collection agency. Is this legal when I am paying as much as I can afford each month?

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

      We wish we had better news. Yes, even if you are paying, the bill can be turned over to collections. However, you may still have some room to negotiate, and that’s an avenue worth exploring. We wrote about readers in a similar situation here:
      Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

  • wondering if its legal

    is it legal for a creditor to send me passed due notices on a postcard for everyone to see? This card has the amount due and has PAST DUE splatterd all over it. I am in illinois

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

    Karen – Collection agencies must follow the law and that includes sending you written notice of the debt within 5 days of their initial contact. If the collection agency breaks the law they will have to pay your attorney’s fees and punitive damages, and possibly other damages. I’d suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney who regularly helps consumers with debt collection matters. Visit NACA.net to find one in your area. The first consultation should be free. Make sure you are taking good notes of all your interactions with them, including phone calls. And also make sure you are monitoring your credit scores so if this does hurt your credit you have proof. You can get a monthly free credit score at Credit.com.

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

    Not sure what you mean but if you’re asking how to dispute a credit report item offline, when you order your credit reports you’ll see contact info for the credit reporting agency and you can mail your dispute to that address. Contact information for creditors should be on there as well.

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

    It’s unlikely. Collection accounts may only be reported 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. After that time they cannot be reported, regardless of whether they remain unpaid.

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

    You’re right. Thanks for that.

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

    Jolanda – It does not sound legit on the face of it. In most states the statutes of limitations would have expired by now, and debt collectors can’t generally make threats about things like garnishing your bank account. What state did you live in when you took out this loan? Do you still live in that state now?

    • Jolanda

      I didn’t have a loan but a credit card with this company. It was in Georgia. Yes, I do still live in Georgia. I opened the account in 2002 and it was closed in 2005. They did win a judgement against me back in 2006 and my wages were garnished. It has been 8 or so years since that occurred and never any calls, letters, etc. I have received 2 calls in the last month and the first being just days after I was approved for a refinance on my vehicle. The vehicle has been in my husbands name but we changed it to mine to get a lower interest rate…I find all of this to be a strange coincidence. The young lady that called me must have found my info somehow. Is there anything I can do legally if they keep harassing me?

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

        If there is a judgment, that is a different story. Judgment creditors have much greater powers to collect than creditors do pre-judgment. And judgments can last for decades (depending on state law) and can often be renewed.

        If you can’t pay it, I would strongly encourage you to at least meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to find out what the judgment creditor can do to collect from you, and to explore your options for resolving it. Visit NACBA.org for a referral.

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

    Did you get this promise in writing?

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

    Dani – I wrote about these kinds of problems in the article below. I’d suggest you dispute this item by mail with all the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it. If it is not confirmed, it will be removed. You’ll find instructions for doing so here: Why Isn’t My Mortgage on My Credit Report?

    And that other article I referenced is here: The Little-Known Moving Mistake That Will Cost You Big

  • Sheila

    Wells fargo keep calling me , when im not late on my mortage and never have been. call serveral time day because it not paid on the first . I have until the 16th.
    it’s unreal!!!!!!

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

      How annoying! Have you considered filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

    • Debra

      if your payment is due on the 1st, it is LATE on the 2nd, despite the fact that they are not charging you a late fee until the 16th.

    • nunyabusiness

      I’ve had that happen also. I told them that I don’t have to pay until the 16th because I have a grace period. He insisted I didn’t and we argued back and forth and I’ve never been late on a payment for 25 years. I didn’t pay until the 15th on purpose and nothing happened to me. My mortgage was bought by a national mortgage servicing company with mortgages all over the country and I don’t think they can keep track of all the states laws regarding grace periods. I think they are encouraged to try to get you to pay on the 1st because they’re losing out on making the most money they can if you don’t pay on the 1st. It’s to their advantage if you pay on the 1st.
      I refinanced and got back to a local bank and haven’t had any more problems.

  • clerickolter .

    I have tons of medical debts, am applying for Medicaid (Florida) and SSI and have only family supporting me due to disability. I have a basic cease contact letter for any collection agent noting:
    1. I have no income and am disabled.
    2. Medicaid is under appeal to get which is now unlikely to benefit the provider who likely can’t back bill.
    3. IF I get SSI it will be my ONLY income and as a disability income it can only be garnished for Federal Tax Debts, Child Support or Educational Debt none of which applies in their case.
    4. So they can move on the debt but since the only hope I have for income is SSI I don’t see the point in going to court but feel free to it seems rather pointless since they can’t collect on it.
    5. Do not contact me accept where allowed by law further the legal part.
    I can’t work, I can’t pay them so no use bothering to worry about these debts I have enough to worry about.

  • saldiven

    I’d like to continue with what Chris has said by pointing out that the statute of limitations is different for different types of debt. For example, in Georgia where I live, the last time I checked the info, the statute of limitations on a promisory note (closed end loan) is six years, while the statute of limitations on a revolving debt (like a credit card) is four years.

    • Julia Thurlow

      Here in Va, it is seven years. I’m glad you mentioned that making a payment starts the time over. I didn’t know that. It’s good to know.

      • AmandaD

        In VA the statute of limitations is 3 years for credit card debt, 5 for a written contract, and 6 for a promissory note . However, the debt can remain on your credit report for 7 years after the date of delinquency

        • Julia Thurlow

          That must be the seven years I’m thinking of. It’s good to know about the other limits! Thanks!!

  • saldiven

    Yes, they are allowed to contact you the day after your payment is due. Regardless of whether or not the contract stipulates 5 or 10 or whatever days before an additional late charge is assessed, a loan payment is past due the day after the due date. Typically, though, creditors will not bother calling prior to 5-10 days afterwards because it’s not worth the added collection load.

  • saldiven

    Not necessarily. It’s only a violation if they threaten to sue when they never had any intention to do so. If a collector has every intention to sue a debtor, but for whatever reason change their mind (decide the debt is too small to bother, discover they don’t have a valid service address, discover the debtor is on SSI where the income is un-attachable, etc.), then it probably would not be considered a violation.

  • jim

    Something that has worked well for me: Copy the letter from {whomever} send in a complaint to your state attorney general and to the attorney general where the agency is located. They then get contacted by the two states attorney generals and realize you know how to fight. I have done this three times and any contact with these people stops.
    Also, get a google phone number, it is the only number I give out to non family and friends. Your state motor vehicles depts sells your info, as do Dr offices etc.

  • Eddie J

    That’s true for a dispute but not a debt validation. They have 30 days to validate a debt.

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

    If your home sold for less than you owed on it, then it’s possible that you still owe that money.

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

    Yes

  • RandyRob

    The first thing my credit counselor told me years ago… “Never deal with a debt collector. Only ever deal with whom you owe money”.
    You can almost always work out a repayment schedule with a creditor even if you’ve gone to collection (and often for cents on the dollar). They just want to recoup some losses and can be surprisingly accommodating.
    Record keeping becomes key at this point in the game. Have proof of any and all payments.

  • trainlady

    Okay I am not sure I understand this. Are you basically saying that 1 debt can actually be on your credit twice? One for the hospital and one from the collection agency? That is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed.

  • Michael Cochrane

    these are all good points but they deal with collection agencies and an indicated debt….how about a debt that is for services you didn’t receive? Now I realize this is a US site but I had issues with an internet/phone/cable provider where in 6 months I was with them, my services were intermittent at best….I called them numerous times to complain and they said to me “you have to pay your bill in full before we’ll look into repairing the issues”…..I said “I’m not about to pay for services I didn’t receive”…and on a subsequent call they made to me about the outstanding balance I said to the woman on the phone “do you know what it’s like to try and watch a hockey game and halfway through the cable cuts out and I can’t get it back”? know what she said to me? “well, at least you got to watch HALF the game”……

  • Anne Rush

    Many states also have a time frame. If it is past a certain time frame, they can’t sue you and if they do, you respond through the court that the time has passed. There is proper wording in each state that has this that must be followed.

  • Riddthy

    I have gone to an ER at a hospital and they did nothing to help me, but gave me two Tylenol and sent me home. The bill is 4600 plus. When I ask for an “itemized bill”, do you know how much the hospital charged me for one “tongue depressor”? It costs me $9.00 for a tongue depressor where with one dollar I can buy a whole bag at a dollar stores. This problem is really out of hand and the legislatures did nothing to monitor these hospitals.

  • Scott Eaton

    After the first time i read the Bible to them they left me alone…….Go figure

  • Liz

    Although I had faithfully and consistently paid a minimum of $100 a month for 19 straight months, the collection agency got a judgment against me. After the judgment, they wanted paycheck stubs (I am self employed) and insisted that I could afford $300 a month payments. (Original amount $6400 judgment amount $3800) I scraped and paid $300 for 3 months and on the 4th month I went on my planned vacation which was over 1500 miles from my home, I paid them $200 before leaving and told them I would return with the other $100 before months end. They ended up putting a freeze on my account while I was on vacation on the 22nd of the month and garnished my entire account. Was this legal?

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

      Bank account levies are legal when there is a judgment in their favor. There are some limits and protections that vary by state. What state are you in?

  • AJ

    I recently received a call from someone saying she was an investigator and my name was attached to a legal matter and that I was going to be served with a summons. It was in regards to 2 pending cases and they were going to come out to my home or place of employment to serve me the papers. I looked the number up online and found that several people were called and told the same exact thing as me and that is was a scam. If you call the 800# they will tell you that you owe a few hundred dollars from an old bill and if you don’t pay it NOW, it will end up being thousands of dollars because of legal fees. Well to this day no one has showed up to serve me anything. Being someone who has worked collections I knew this was not the legal way to collect a debt and they don’t give you a courtesy call before they serve you papers. That being said, I have read some of your comments about the SOL on debts. While the SOL may run out it does not mean you no longer owe, it just means they have no legal avenue to take to get the money from you. If you owe, you owe until it is paid, and you should pay. I heard so many different excuses from people as to why they couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. The one that stands out the most is “It is only $30, what is the big deal?” Well if a business has 1,000 customers that owe $30 then that is $30,000 and if several people owed you that much you would want to get paid. Now I know that sometimes things get hard and people get behind on things but there are also those we called “Professional Debters”. These are the people that will rack up bills, not pay them, end up in collections and then try to use the collection laws to get out of paying them. Collection laws are there to protect consumers from being treated badly by collection agencies, not to help people get out of paying their bills. Without collection agencies a lot of these debts would go unpaid and a lot of businesses would go out of business. Collection agencies put billions of dollars back into the businesses so they can continue to run. Everyone complains when prices go up, but when professional debters try everything to get out of paying a debt, the businesses need to make up their losses somewhere and that somewhere is higher prices.

  • Paul Brown

    I got a collector right now trying to collect on a bill of $196,00 and change because the hospital screwed up and inputted the wrong insurance info in their computer and the insurance company refuses to pay on something now. They wanted proof that Medicare approved and paid their portion, I gave it to them so now they want the health care provider to contact them, it was proof that came from them, and they refuse to accept their own proof.

  • W. Mike James

    it usually take six (6) months for an item to be removed after it’s been paid!

  • Breana Michelsen

    dont hold your breath Penn credit told me if i paid this amount it would be taken off my credit report that was 5 yrs ago and its still on there i have also received another notice of a collection for Publishers Clearing House for stuff i never ordered and the address that this stuff was sent too i never lived there ever and im still be threaten to be taken to court as i have disputed all these charges

  • Donna Winstead

    I would like to know if these collection agencies have the legal right to put a negative remark on my credit bureau? I can see the original creditor putting it on there but why do they get to put the same account on my credit report? We are trying to get a house and have 3 derogatory remarks from the original creditors and then 3 more bad reports from the collection agencies for the same account. Can they do this?

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

      Donna –
      Getting dinged four times for one debt doesn’t seem right, and it’s not supposed to happen. However, you’re not along in having the problem. We wrote about it in Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage, which also offers some suggestions for handling it.

  • Brenda Mastriano

    My Husband and I have been married just over 2 years. Back in 2008 he took his kids to the doctor for pneumonia. The doctor prescribed a list of medications and accepted the insurance. Just 2 months ago we received a letter in the mail demanding payment for the services. I say we because my name is also on the letter. They have reported it to a collections agency and I am listed on the account. I am not the legal guardian of these children and I was not at the time the legal guardian. We were not married at the time of the services and I never signed anything saying I would be responsible.
    How do I make them remove me from this debt?

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

      What state are you in?
      What is the name of the debt collection agency?

      I want to first be sure that the debt is passed the SOL to legitimately sue before I offer any actionable feedback.

      • Brenda Mastriano

        We are in Nevada ,
        acctcorp of southern nevada
        I was incorrect he took the kids to the doctor in 2010. They did send a copy of the agreement to pay and his signature is the only one on the document. We were married 2011.

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

          I am not sure why you would have been listed on the letter. But it does not appear as though this is showing on your credit reports, and I cannot see them holding you legally responsible.

          Have you contacted them and raised your concerns about their being some confusion with your being listed in the collection file?

          • Brenda Mastriano

            I have and they will not give me any information or speak to me unless I arrange for payment. It is not that we are unwilling to pay the debt if it is legitimate it is that my husbands insurance company was never billed and they will not pay it now because it is so old and while he disputes it I don’t want to be responsible as I am just getting my credit straightened out after a messy divorce.
            I will attempt to contact them again and request that they remove my name from the account as I have no responsibility. Should I write them a letter asking to be removed?

  • mark

    A agency was calling me about an uncle, saying i was given as his contact point and the calls NEVER stopped. Finally I called the state police and they put an end to it !

  • Julia Thurlow

    I have a debt collector calling for someone of a different name and it’s a recording. I called back and the company said they were closed and to call during normal business hours. Their recording had JUST called me. I can’t get through and I left a message for them to remove my number immediately and got another call the next day. I have no idea what to do to make it stop. Their message is very threatening and nasty too and always says it’s the last notification before they file suit or start garnishment or something like that. I’m so incensed by the threatening tone that I stop listening to the message.

  • rudyInLA

    You were mistaken. You owe.

  • Zach

    Yes, but only if those charges are from the original creditor. They cannot charge you fees or interest for their services.

  • Tad Wesley

    “For help with handling collection calls, you may want to contact an
    attorney. Once you hire an attorney, a debt collection agency must
    contact your attorney and not you.”

    If you’re in debt and can’t pay, how can you afford to hire an attorney?

  • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

    Hi Moni —

    Here’s a good guide to the current statutes of limitations state-by-state. Just click on your state on the map:

    http://www.credit.com/debt/statutes-of-limitations/

    And paid judgments can stay on your credit report for 7 years, while unpaid judgments can remain on your report until the statute of limitations expires. Here’s some more help in dealing with judgments:

    http://blog.credit.com/2013/05/help-i-found-a-judgment-on-my-credit-report-66173/

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

    Legal interest, such as can be applied to judgment debts, are set by the court, and capped by state law.

    There is little incentive for a judgment creditor to be flexible and work with you when they are guaranteed to get paid through wage garnishment while you are at that job. One alternative, if the garnishment is creating a hardship for you, is to request a court hearing to establish whether you are partially, or even fully, exempt from garnishment.

    You can learn more about requesting that hearing from the court clerks office.

    • Carol Ann Morris Sard

      Awesome, that I will do, Thanks!!

  • Ron

    Dispute the report through the credit burea.. They will then notify the creditor to see if it is indeed still a valid debt.. At this point it will be looked into and removed from the credit report… If the creditor can’t be contacted, it will also be removed from the report being that the dispute couldn’t be challenged…

  • Juan

    I recently received a debt collection requesting I pay for an old internet account that I had about two years ago. The amount owed towards the company is 200 something and the debt collection agency is asking for that amount plus an additional 100 dollars as a fee for using their agency. My question is, does that sound right? Do I have a right to fight the additional 100? I understand the 200 for the internet company but for me to pay 100 for the agency’s part in the situation sounds ridiculous.

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

      Collection costs, late fees, and penalties, should be referenced in the service agreement you have with the provider. Do you have a copy of that? You can often find one on line (for the year in question).

      You can often settle debts with collection companies for less than what is owed. Offering to pay 150 dollars because it is all you can afford (for example), would mean saving more than what has been added on to the bill.

      If you do negotiate a lower pay off, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

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

    Dee –
    That’s a popular misconception, and it’s not true. We wrote about it here: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?.

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

    The collector talking to you would generally not be a reason for a judgment against your husband to get dismissed.

    You should talk with an attorney in your state with debt defense experience in order to best understand your rights (state and federal) when it comes to collections.

  • Joy Campbell

    For me, I live in NM, it was suddenly gone at the 10 year mark and I could finally qualify for a car loan.

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

    While that sounds terribly embarrassing, it might not be illegal. Third-party debt collectors are not allowed to do what you describe, but the law is less clear when the original creditor is trying to collect. You can find more information here: My Bank Called My Dad & Got Him to Pay My Mortgage

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

    Hospitals rarely report past due medical bills. In my experience they show up after they are sent to collections.

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

    I am sorry but I don’t understand the situation you are describing.

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

    Probably not, unless it is a federal debt. But they may be able to garnish your wages and/or go after bank accounts, depending on what’s legal in your state. Who has the judgment? If it is a creditor or debt collection agency you may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • getitstraight

    I moved out of an apartment 2 years ago. I lived there with my husband and 2 others. We owed 1 months worth the rent ($1050). Now we all 4 have on each of our crefit reports $4500. My husband and I are attempting to settle the debt. They offered to settle for $2400. Even if we do settle at that amount, we asked for a letter of confirmation that once we pay that amount, that we are no longer in debt to them and the account be closed. We recieved 2 different letters, each one had only either of our names listed with and each of ours had 2 different account numbers. I demanded 1 letter with both names. He refused to do it. I’m not sure I should pay the debt unless we are both listed. I fear that once we pay, they will try and collect from all four of us

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

      I tend to agree with you. It’s best to have all bases covered. He could try to go after the other tenants for the difference. Unless the letter states the debt owed by everyone is fully satisfied it’s possible you will have future problems here.

  • KKC.

    What if you don’t receive a notice within 5 days?

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

      You’ll find the specifics in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act under the section “validation of debts.” If the collector fails to comply (and you’re confident they are a real collection agency and not a scam operation) I’d suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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

    I am not sure of the requirements in terms of being notified of additional costs on a lease before the debt is turned over to collections. However, your state attorney general’s office should be able to explain your rights to you.

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

    I am sorry but I don’t see your previous question so I am not sure what you are asking.

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

    It sounds like the bill is accurate and you owe it, correct? I don’t think the reps mistake would get you off the hook for legitimate charges you made. However, you could dispute the fact that it is on your account as a collection account since you tried to pay the bill. You may want to talk with the collection agency to see if they would be willing to stop reporting it in exchange for payment. However, before you do, check the statute of limitations. It may have already expired and by paying it you could extend that time period.

    This article may help: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

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

    That collector is very likely breaking the law. In almost every state this bill is beyond the statute of limitations. Can you find out the name of the collection agency? Have your grandmother note when they call and then call a consumer law attorney who regularly represents consumers in debt collection cases. (Visit NACA.net if you need a referral.) The attorney should help you at no cost to you and you may be entitled to damages as well.

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

    It is customary for dentists and doctors to charge for a visit even if they don’t end up treating you or make an accurate diagnosis. You could try to fight it but I am not sure it’s worth it at this point. If this is from 2008 and you haven’t made any payments then it is going to come off your credit reports soon anyway. Collection accounts may be reported for 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. So figure the date you saw the dentist and count 7.5 years from then and monitor your credit reports to make sure it disappears then.

    Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

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

    Here’s a rough guide. Just keep in mind that laws change so double check before relying on this information: Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

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

    It may be. Please consult a consumer law attorney right away. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to help; you keep your vehicle. You can find one here: NACBA

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

    Consult a bankruptcy attorney.

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

    1. Asking a debt collector to stop contacting you doesn’t restart the statute of limitations. 2. The statute of limitations and the time period collection accounts may be reported are governed by different laws. We wrote about that here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date? 3. It’s possible a time-barred debt could be sold to a new collection agency, and create a new collection account on your credit report. However, it would NOT start a new reporting period for the new debt. (The original 7.5 years still applies.) 4. Here is a chart that may help. Just remember laws change so please double check before relying on this: Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

    This article may help as well:
    What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt? Hope so!

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

    Did you cancel it while you were in bankruptcy? If so contact your bankruptcy attorney. It may have been covered.

  • Deb

    I get threatening (by threatening I mean arrest/jail time) on old payday loans. I am in bankruptcy and inform anyone who contacts me that. I am told repeatedly that bankruptcy doesn’t matter – I can be charged with wire fraud since I got money and didn’t pay it back. My attorney says its a scare tactic. Is he right?

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

      Yes, your attorney is right. It’s against federal law to make the threats you mention.


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