Sign up for your free account    Sign Up Now
From the Experts at

FAQs About Debts in Collections

Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure


FAQs About Debts in Collections

Making ends meet can be a struggle. If you fall behind on even one bill, you have to worry about taking a hit to your credit score. If your finances don’t recover quickly enough, a delinquent bill may end up in collections. So how long do you have before the collection agency reports to the credit bureaus and does even more damage to your credit score?

The short answer is you have no grace period before a collection agency can report to a credit bureau. Once your delinquent account is sent to collections by the original creditor, there is little you can do to stop the account from being listed in the public records and collection section of your credit report. Even if you pay the debt in full once it’s in collections, the fact that the debt had to go to collections before it was paid will remain a negative factor affecting your credit score for years.

    Call now for a FREE consultation
    CALL 833-337-8339

    Do Collection Agencies Report as a Separate Account on Your Credit?

    That bill that you didn’t pay has multiple lives on your credit report. When you open an account, it gets listed by the company extending the credit as a trade line on your credit report with one or all of the major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If you fail to pay and the creditor transfers the debt to a collection agency, the debt gets listed again on another trade line in the collections section of the report. The collection agency uses this new account line to report activity on the debt.

    The original creditor typically closes out the original trade line by indicating the debt was charged off, or written off as a bad debt that the creditor can’t collect. If the original creditor sells your debt to a debt buyer or if your debt is transferred to a different collection agency, a new trade line gets generated.

    When Do Collection Agencies Report to Credit Bureaus?

    Everything regarding credit reporting and collection activity falls under federal law. By law, your original creditor can’t report a late payment to the credit bureaus until it’s 31 days past due, so you have a built-in 30-day grace period to make your payment before your credit score is affected. But once the account is transferred to a collection agency, it’s already delinquent, and there’s no rule that says the collection agency has to wait to report.

    How Long Do Collection Agencies Have to Report to Credit Bureaus?

    A collection agency can report your delinquent debt to credit bureaus immediately upon receiving your account from the original creditor. There is no grace period before a collection account becomes eligible for reporting. The agency can continue to report to credit bureaus about your delinquent debt for seven years plus 180 days from the point the account was placed in collections.

    How Long Does it Take for a Company to Send You to Collections?

    Under federal law, an original creditor can send your account to a collection agency once it’s 31 days past due. At that point, practices vary. Some creditors may continue to try to collect the debt for up to 180 days using in-house people before sending the account to a collection agency. Other creditors may send your account to collections as soon as it is eligible.

    Can a Collection Agency Report to the Credit Bureaus if You Are Making Payments?

    Yes, a collection agency can report to the credit bureaus even if you are making payments. Once your debt is transferred from the original creditor to the collection agency, the debt gets a new trade line on your credit report that’s under the control of the collection agency. Payments made are reflected through this new entry.

    Do Disputed Debts in Collections Get Reported?

    That medical billwas supposed to be paid by your insurance company—but it wasn’t. And you didn’t find out that you owed money until the bill had been transferred to collections. How long do you have to dispute a bill before a collection agency reports to the credit bureaus? Is there a rule or practice that prevents collection agencies from ruining your credit in cases of disputes regarding unusual bills that you were unaware you owed?

    Under the FCRA, you have 30 days to dispute a debt once you’re contacted by a collection agency. Until the collection agency provides proof that the debt is valid, it’s not allowed to conduct any debt-collection activity. Unfortunately, reporting the collection account to the credit bureaus is not considered collection activity, so even if you dispute the debt, the agency has likely already reported it to the credit bureaus. If you win the dispute, you can then petition for the information to be removed from your report.

    Can Collection Agencies Remove a Collection From a Credit Report?

    There is no easy way to get a collection account removed from your credit report, even if you dispute the debt. If the collection information is inaccurate and you weren’t able to convince the collection agency that you don’t owe the debt, your only option is to ask the credit bureau to remove the collection account. Credit agencies tend to prefer to update the account rather than remove it.

    Valid collection accounts stay on your credit report for seven years, beginning 180 days after the account is charged off or placed in collections. The only way to get a collection account removed from your credit report before this is to negotiate a settlement with the collection agency to pay off the debt in exchange for the agency removing the account information. Get the agreement in writing so you can pursue legal remedies if the collection agency doesn’t live up to its end of the bargain.

    What Incentive Is there for Paying Off An Account in Collections?

    The bottom line is if you don’t pay your delinquent bill before it gets transferred to collections, you should resign yourself to a prolonged period of rebuilding your credit. Whether you pay the bill immediately or make payments over time, the account stays in the collection section of your credit report, pulling your credit score down.

    And if you make payments, the collection stays on your credit report for seven years from the date of the last activity on the account, which becomes the date of your last payment. Technically, you’re penalized if you pay a collection account over time because paying extends the seven-year time period before the information falls off your credit report. Keeping your other credit accounts in good standing may do more to raise your credit score back up than using limited funds to pay off old collections.

    Can a Collection Agency Ruin My Credit?

    Yes, having a debt sent to a collection agency will have a negative impact on your credit score. However, if you keep your other credit accounts in good standing, they can help offset some of that negative impact over time. can help you identify strategies to rebuild your credit. Use the site to pull two free credit reports to keep track of your credit accounts and dispute inaccurate information.

      Call now for a FREE consultation
      CALL 844-331-2054
      ExtraCredit Learn More

      Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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

      • Susan

        I have medical bill that has gone to collections and I have been making regular payments for over a year. The original balance is now down to $675. The collection agency has added over $2200. for legal and other fees. They are demanding $450. per month which is causing me to fall behind on my mortgage. What are my options?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Collection fees can increase the amount you owe, but this sounds like it may be excessive. (What are the “legal fees” for? Have they sued you?)

          I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and check with your state Attorney General to see if they can clarify what kinds of fees can be added to collection accounts.

        • Jessie

          I would pay my mortgage and prevent becoming homeless. I would consult an attorney or government agency. You have the collection agency from he’ll after you.

        • Chicken Little

          As long as you are paying something, they can not sue you for more. Pay them $25 a month AFTER you verify they are really the hospital that you are paying and the debt is legit. Those expenses are excessive. I would report them .

          • Gerri Detweiler

            I agree with the notion that those charges may be excessive but it’s generally not true that making payments protects you to being sued.

      • Credit Experts

        Who did you sign up for a class with? Do you know the school’s policy? And do you have documentation of when you notified the school that you would not be taking the class you signed up with?

      • Kaisei

        You signed up for a class and took a spot that could have been filled by a paying student. They are well within their rights to demand that money even though you didn’t attend the class. Unless you reported to them that you were not going to attend prior to the class starting then they will require your money and first born son.

      • Cheryl

        I am in. Florida and a year ago I needed a new electric wheelchair so I contacted bcbs of IL, they told me who to go to a provider in their network ,they ecieverd my prescription for the chair early February, they came and did the home visit middle of February, got approval from bcbs in March, they ordered the chair from quickie in March, chair was shipped via ups in March, received by medical company April 2nd I believe then delivered to me next day. They billed bcbs of IL they day they dropped the chair off to me, bcbs was cancelled April st. Bcbs denied and said they have to go by the date medical company put on Bill as claim date, the medical company refused to re-bill with a different date such as approval date, order date or ship date. Spent months on phone with them trying to resolve this but they would not budge. Our new insurance would not cover it as they are out of network…now a collections company is calling. I’m very frustrated and at a loss.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Cheryl – I am at a loss myself. Sounds like you’ve been caught in the byzantine world of insurance billing. There are attorneys who specifically handle health insurance claim disputes. Have you tried reaching to one of them?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s hard to say because I don’t know exactly what you mean by posting as a new debt. Does it list the original date of delinquency?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I suppose anything is possible, but remember that a collection agency would have to pay the bureaus to monitor their accounts this way, and quite honestly I’m not sure that they would want to take on that expense for debts they may or may not collect.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The open date and the last reported date are not really the important dates here. The thing you need to confirm is the original date of delinquency – the date you fell behind with the credit card issuer. If that is not reported, then I suggest you disputed with the credit reporting agency. The CRA needs that accurate date in order to know how long to report it. Read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am not aware of any specific requirements that they notify you in a particular way before sending an account to collections. My understanding is that generally if the bill is unpaid it can go to a collection agency. However, there may be state laws that apply, so you certainly could contact your state attorney general’s office for more information. You could also consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is looking into collection practices.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If you gave them authorization to take money out of your account (which we never recommend) then it may be legal – depending on the authorization you signed. Do you still have a copy?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        A collection agency that is collecting on behalf of the creditor may still report the debt as a collection account.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yes check your credit reports. This is a situation where you may want to spring for three bureau
        credit monitoring for a few months. If it does show up on your credit reports, you may have a case for credit damage so keep good documentation.

        • Jesse

          Thank you so much for your reply I will keep a close eye on my credit report

          • Gerri Detweiler

            You’re welcome. Let us know how this turns out!

      • Meg

        How do I know if the collection company “owns” my debt now or if is indeed negotiating on behalf of the original credit card company? Do I have a right to know that information?

        • Credit Experts

          Meg —

          You can call the original creditor to see whether it sold the debt to the collector you are talking with, or you can check your credit reports. (There are also some other ways to verify, and we wrote about it here: How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is)

      • Lee

        will I receive a 1099 from the collection agency in 2014 when I paid $14790.00 for voluntary surrender of two vehicles. thank u

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I have no idea if they will send one or not, but the IRS says cancellation of indebtedness income should be reported whether or not you receive the 1099-C.

      • Gina

        On Feb 5 ,2015 I received a letter from a collector company for the amount of $5,000. They actually went after me because the original owner of the debt filed bankruptcy and I was the co-signer.
        My question is, I know it will stay on my credit for 7 years, so does it make a difference if I pay or not?
        I called them as soon as I got the letter and they told me that everything I said would be used to collect the debt, to be honest I don’t remember what I said that could hurt me, but can the sue me?
        How should I approach this situation. They said that if I paid in full I would get 50% off, but I read that they can re-sell the debt to another agency, so I would be back to square one.
        Help please!
        Thank you

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Your first step should be to find out if the statute of limitations has expired. If it has, then you can decide whether you want to negotiate or just wait until it comes off your credit reports. If it hasn’t, then you may want to negotiate. 50% off isn’t a bad deal but be sure to get it in writing – stating that with that payment it will be paid in full – before you pay them. Then keep that documentation. if you have proof that it was settled then if they try to sell the balance you can dispute it with the new collector. Also keep in mind that you may owe taxes on the cancelled amount. A couple of articles you’ll want to read:

          Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date? and
          What is a 1099-C? Your Top 11 Questions Answered

      • Surya

        I received a notice from a debt collector on 2/10/2015 for a medical bill of service date 10/22/2014. I have paid entire amount due immediately after receiving the notice. I also signed up for credit monitoring and didn’t see anything being reported until today (2/21/2015). Does this mean that it won’t be reported? or Could it be reported, but not showing up yet? Please let me know.

        • Credit Experts

          It may be too soon to tell. But it may not be reported. Some collection agencies do not report immediately. Your credit-monitoring service should alert you if it does show up on your report.

      • barbara

        received a letter from a collection agency said I could settle my debt for 50% what is owed to send payment by Feb 28th send a check this morning. received a letter tonight from the credit card company wanting to settle for the same amount. I called them.
        they said the collection agency sent back the debt to them. I paid them over the phone. the credit card company said the collection agency would send back the check I sent today. could take up to two weeks to receive it back. called the collection agency and they said the same thing. should I still stop payment on that check.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is your call. If I were in your shoes, I’d personally feel safer stopping payment but you’ll have to decide whether you are willing to pay the fee.

      • jess

        Hi, I have spent over $2000 in medical bills for my son. Some how physician charges were overlooked and not paid due to how their system is set up. The amt owed is on $67, but they sent it to collections. The collection agency claims that they haven’t reported it yet. So my question is if I pay today will it never show on credit score? If I pay the hospital they said it could take a couple weeks to clear It with the agency. Who should I pay? Does the lack of payment to Hospital get reported also from the hospital?

        • Credit Experts

          Jess —
          Ask them to please put in writing that they will not report it if you pay it immediately, and then do it. (You can also check your credit reports to add if it is on there yet.
          Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

          • jess

            Great thanks. I paid the $74 To The Hospital Instead of the collection agency. I stayed on top to make they updated to a zero balance. The agency is mailing me a letter stating that they did not report it and will not. However, you’re right I should check our report in a month to make sure “)

      • Gerry

        I currently have a debt in collection that is suppose to be schedule to record till Dec 2018.

        My question, if I pay a monthly payment, say $20, will the recording still be recorded until the 2018 with a remanding balance or does the my whole balance need to be paid off before it’ll will be taken off record?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It must be removed then regardless of whether it is paid, partially paid or unpaid.

      • Derek

        In September I found a pest control company on Yelp
        based on the glowing reviews and purchased a $50 for $30 voucher to have them
        look at bugs we were finding in my daughter’s bathtub. They came out and
        immediately knew what they were, drain insects, and they treated for
        them. The invoice had said carpenter ant treatment but it was scratched
        out and we were charged $125. The $50 voucher was applied and
        we paid the remaining balance. Several months later we received a past
        due invoice, I believe this was in late December. I called and spoke with
        a woman on the phone about the letter and she mentioned there was an upgrade in
        their system and it was causing problems and not to worry about it. She
        was very friendly and I figured it was a mistake they recognized and didn’t
        think anything of it. Now 3 months later I get a 2nd letter
        saying I have been turned into collections!? If I was turned into collections, what are my options. I would never risk a negative mark on my credit for $200?? This is completely unacceptable.

        • Credit Experts

          How frustrating this must be for you.

          Do you have anything in writing to show that you paid? (If so, you may be able to solve this before it is goes on your credit report.)

          First, ask the collector for a “validation of the debt” (you have 30 days from their initial contact to do this.) This will come to you via postal mail. There’s more information here: The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors.

          And while we cannot advise you to pay money you don’t believe you owe, you would not be the first person to decide it was better to do that than risk damage to a good credit score.

          • Derek

            I would definitely just pay $200 vs risk damage to my credit. I may have jumped the gun as I was pretty upset, only left to think about it over the weekend. I spoke with the owner and he apologized and said he cleared the account. However, this is what I was told in December. At least I now have it in writing. Thanks!

      • sarusa sarusa


        today i get colleciton alert from my privacy assist that i need to pay 100$ ,
        i never received any latter from the collection company .
        i called to find out what exactly the debt about, and they told me the debt from
        centurylink (internet company) that i didn’t returned the modem , this is not true

        i send the modem in April 2014 .they said they send me twice in June 2014 a letter that i never got . they told me that i need proof that i send the modem , but i don’t find the tracking number . i go to UPS to try to pull it out , but they keep only six mont back . what i need to do ???

        • Credit Experts

          Sarusa —
          Without proof, this becomes a he-said, she-said sort of augment. It sounds as if perhaps the modem was never received, and you cannot prove it was sent, which is a problem. Without evidence the modem was sent, you could be held liable for the return of the modem. Not paying it — even though you sent the modem — could result in damage to your credit score, the risk of being sued and additional fees and penalties that could add significantly to the debt you now have. We wish we had better news.

          • sarusa sarusa

            hello again
            yesterday i put it in dispute just to figure out what I’m doing .
            i don’t care to pay the debet i just wanna to know if the collection company can clear it from my credit score after i pay them.
            and if i can pay-them after i did dispute . i have good credit i don’t want its goanna affect on my credit score, especially for someting that i didn’t did .
            what recommend me to do ?

            • Credit Experts

              You would have to ask the collector that question. (And if they agree to, get that in writing and THEN pay.) But yes, a collection on your credit report will hurt your score.

      • VTfarmer

        Hello, I let a small bill ($95) slip through the cracks and received a notice from a collector today. I paid the amount immediately and then emailed them to ask that they have it removed from my credit report. Do collectors every do this? I have basically good credit and we are trying to buy a house right now. Is there anything else I can do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unfortunately, no they don’t have to but some will not report it if you pay it right away. Keep an eye on your credit and keep your fingers crossed.

      • Eve

        I have a medical bill that was sent to collections about a year and a half ago. I wasn’t able to pay at the time, but now I am trying to get on my feet and start paying what I owe. Problem is, I’ve moved several times since the original communication via regular mail took place, and in the process I misplaced or lost all of the correspondence. And it sounds stupid, but I do not remember the name of the collection agency that has my bill. How do I find out who do I owe?

        • Credit Experts

          Eve —
          Here’s a resource that may help: How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is

          • Eve

            Thanks! I got my credit report from Experian, and that bill/account isn’t even listed on there. What would be my next step?

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Do you know who the original medical provider was? Can you try them?

      • Rick Thomas

        I bought a self test mold kit and it came up with mold. I spoke to my land lord and she said yes I can break out of my lease. They got a specialist in and found no mold. SHe has no negated on that and telling me I must pay to break my lease early as I had already setup a new place. If I refuse to pay the $522 will her verbal say so stand up if they take me to court or collections.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Rick – I have no idea how this will play out. It sounds like there are a couple of problems here – conflicting test results and a verbal agreement to let you move out. It seems it could go either way and possibly drag your credit down in the process.

          I suggest you talk with someone familiar with landlord tenant laws in your area.

      • Diego

        In Remarks section of my credit report say Canceled by credit grantor,what exactly this means? Thanks

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It means the creditor closed your account.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Was the address they had for you at the time your correct address? By “on a ship” were you deployed on active duty?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        We have an article coming out on this next week but basically there is no harm in requesting it. Hopefully they will still run it through the normal channels. Do you think it’s inaccurate in any way?

      • Andrea

        I recently had a debt removed off my credit report. That collection agency than sold my debt and not even 2 months after it was taken off my report another collection was put on with the same amount just different agency. They didn’t even contact me at all and just put it straight to collections. Is there anythign I can do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          You didn’t really explain how or why it was removed the first time. If you disputed it and got it removed you can do the same thing again. It’s not clear whether it is inaccurate or what the circumstances were that led to the removal.

          • Wendy Reyes

            I have a small claim from a apartment complex, I used to stay , really bad experience with this complex from start to finish and now after move out 3 years later !! The manager send me to collection for MTM and other utilities . Apt was clean out completely and I left a deposit for $450, but she still send me to collection with out contacting me. I was the one to do research on the collection agency, after I ran my report (they will send me the exam chargers I have).How could I disputed this ? If I pay , it will still show I had bad rental with 0 balance and if I pay ,how fast will the 0 balance show on my rental history ? I wanted to contact corporate but it’s new management and new owners at the apt complex

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Paying a collection account should result in an updated balance of $0, but how quickly that will happens depends on how fast they report. I can’t say but up to 45 days is not unusual. It won’t remove it from your credit reports.

              You can try disputing this one like you did the last one and let them know you don’t believe you owe the bill. If there is indeed new management in place they may not have the information needed to prove that you owe it.

              If that still doesn’t resolve it you could try complaining to a local housing authority and/or the CFPB. Get more information here about state landlord tenant laws.

      • Erica Thomas

        I had a credit card when I was 18 and it was through elan financial services. I was honestly irresponsible and let it go to collections. Well now it’s four years later and I was trying to get a car loan. I was told I could only get a car loan with a co-signer and I do not have one. So I decided to pay off the $779 I owe. What is the best advice to pay it off? Who should I contact? Will it raise my credit score? Will it fix my chances of getting a loan without a co-signer?,

      • Mary Cerna

        what happens when and collection agency put a lein against your house

        • Gerri Detweiler

          They are trying to protect interest in your property if you sell it. But it doesn’t mean they can force you to sell.

      • Richelle Mulka

        I’m retired and have only my Social Security of $1065. a month to live on. I own my 1969 model mobile home (renting lot) and a 1996 Chevy pick-up and my clothes and furniture. The last of my savings went to improving my rental lot (the mobile home park is built on swamp land) since my home was tilting and sinking in the muddy rental lot. I’ve not been well and am not up to working anymore,I struggle most days to even breathe. Now, I’m behind about $12,000. on credit card and medical bills, don’t have enough anymore to make even minimum payments. I contacted a bankruptcy attorney who was good enough to listen to me and took down my financial figures, he said I couldn’t afford a bankruptcy and since I have nothing of value there’s nothing my creditors would want. He say they can’t touch mu Social Security because it’s Federal funds. Where do I go now ? Running out of things to sell, I can’t afford to live much longer at this rate. Any ideas? Any hope?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I am not sure I understand your question Richelle. Are you still paying these bills? It sounds like the attorney suggested you can’t afford them. Sometimes it is impossible for consumers to pay. You could contact the creditors and let them know that you’ve met with a bankruptcy attorney, you can’t afford to pay and that you have no assets for them to go after. You might want to put those requests in writing. Another suggestion may be to talk with
          Legal Aid though it sounds they will probably say the same thing.

      • Carolina Hernandez Elias

        Hi. We moved out in March of this year of an apartment in which we had problems since day one. The landlord only showed us pictures of the property before move in date claiming they were fixing it. When we got there it was infested with roaches, then a rodent, and we had 3 water leaks from the upstairs apartment. Because of my husband’s EXCELLENT credit…we were able to get something called sureDeposit…in which you pay a nonrefundable $175 fee and it covers $1000 in damages when you move out. We ended up negotiating with the apartment owners to let us off the lease early WITH no FEES and they agreed, since I threatened to sue them. So we moved out…and we got a letter in the beginning of April saying we owed them $1,595 for things they had to fix…which most…like the flooring was because of the leaks…that were NOT our fault. Anyways…we emailed the owner asking why they were charging us when our deposit covered $1000 and also they had told us we weren’t to be charged especially since they did more damage to us inthe time we lived thgere….yesterday this debt showed up on my husband’s credit report. Weren’t we supposed to get a notice or something before it got sent to collections…it hasn’t evenbeen three months sincewe moved out…and as soon as we received the letter we tried contancting the,,,….but they sent us to collections instead of answering

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Talk with a consumer law attorney. You may have a case for credit damage. Visit the website of the National Association for Consumer Advocates if you need help finding one.

      • courtney davis


        i moved out of my apartment in december of 2013 because i went active duty in the military. i terminated all of my utilities and gave each company a forwarding address for my last bill, which i did not receive from my cable company. about nine months later, i called the same cable company to inquire about any money i may owe, because i was considering their services at my new location. they told me at least three separate times that i did not owe any money. about two weeks ago, the debt was reported to transunion by a collection agency. although i now have a new address, i have maintained the same address on my driver’s licence and credit cards since september 2013 (which is still valid), and i have had the same phone number for almost five years. i have not contacted in writing or by telephone by the collector at all. i was under the impression that a collector cannot report a debt to a credit bureau unless they have successfully contacted you and/or provided you an opportunity to settle the debt. is this not true?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t directly address that though there may be state laws that do. But I would suggest you dispute it with the credit reporting agency and file a complaint with the CFPB.

      • Vin

        Hello, I recently was contacted by a collection company and said I had a debt on a store’s credit card on May 8, 2008, that was $340. Now it’s $1000. Question is, right now is 4/26/2015. Can they still sued me? Is the statue of limitations over? I recently checked my credit report and it’s not even on there! Please help. Thank you.

      • Carlo Deslate

        Hello everyone,
        I won a credit card dispute at the end of summer last year for $2100. The credit card re-debited my credit card from a charge to the airline. I bought the ticket through a travel booking site but the amount was debited to the airline.

        So after winning the dispute, I was then contacted by the travel booking site saying that the airline is now seeking payment from the travel booking site for some of the bill ($1700).

        The letter went on to say that it is very imperative they speak to me and to contact them within 3 days to avoid submission of this claim to a collection agency.

        Are they bluffing/just blowing smoke? Can they send this to collections in my name? I don’t see how if the bill was from the airline, where I already won a dispute. Any sort of advice would be very helpful. I really want to avoid the bill being sent to collections in my name. Thank you.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It’s difficult to say. You say you won a credit card dispute but that doesn’t really describe the situation. Was it a fraudulent charge? Or was there some other kind of issue? The question you need to ask yourself here is if they took me to court, would I have a legitimate defense against the debt?

      • gruntled

        This is unfairness on steroids!
        The delivery time is totally beyond the control of the consumer/victim.
        Consumer protection is a joke in this country.

      • Ephrarm Tutt

        If you are being sued by a Debt Collector, it is good to remember that with a proper defense, whether you owe the money or not, almost all the time they will not be able to prove their case in court. For that matter, because they know they can’t prove their case, in the end they are likely to drop the case once they know that you will force them to trial. They are counting on you to fail to defend or settle the case.

      • Lorrie

        I have an old credit card through Capital One that was delinquent and eventually charged off by them. I was contacted by a collection agency during a two-year period of unemployment and could not afford to settle it then. Now I am cleaning up my credit and trying to resolve these issues but there is no longer anyone collecting on it. However, it still shows on my credit report under Capitol One as charged off. Is there any way to clear this? Or do I just have to wait the 7 years? (I’m in Florida, if that matters.)

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Charge offs are reported for seven years from the date charged off by the lender. It’s very tough to get those removed if they are accurate.

      • Sunny

        I had an outstanding bill from Comcast back in Nov 2010. But then I contacted Comcast in Mar 2011 and paid the outstanding bill. I have the transaction number as well as the proof from my credit card statement. However this has been taken over by a debt collection company and it is listed on my credit profile as a deliquency. It is a meagre $86 and I dont mind paying again, but will this be erased from my credit file?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Typically paying a collection account does not result in its removal from your credit reports. If you already paid it, you may want to dispute it in writing (certified mail) with the collection agency and include the proof of payment that you have. Then check your credit reports to make sure it isn’t being reported. Here’s how to free annual credit reports.

          • Camping mom

            Does paying on one account in collections draw attention to other creditors you owe? Will they see I settled one and they will come after me for the other debts by seeing action on my credit report?

      • Sherra

        My son had an account turned over to a credit agency for collection. He is out of the country which has made this difficult. He does not have a credit card for payment in full, and is not being given any other options….ie. payment plan. Also, he was only notified of this debt 5/26 and they are requiring it be paid in full by 5/31 or it will be turned into collections. Is this legal? He isn’t disputing the charges, just needing some support on how to make it right.

        • Credit Experts

          Please help us understand what you mean by collections as opposed to a “credit agency.” Was he notified by phone or by letter? (He should have 30 days to request a “validation of the debt,” and he should do that. You’ll find other tips for dealing with collections here:
          The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

          • sherra

            Thank you! They call themself a credit management company. He was notified via email, as he is out of the country and does not currently have a phone line. They are giving him 5 days to pay in full or turning it over to collections.

            • Credit Experts

              Sherra —
              Be careful. This has some earmarks of a possible scam. Be certain your son owes the money, and that this company owns the debt before paying. You can find more here: 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer And please, please do not pay with a prepaid debit card (commonly requested by scammers).

      • Chicken Little

        I have a debt that says it is from a utility company in 1998, they do not even have the name correctly. They got a judgement by default ( did not serve me) in 2007, after the statute of limitations expired. This year they took my state income tax refund to go towards this debt. They said the judgement will never go away. Is this true?

        I don’t believe it to be my debt since it isn’t even in my name. Just my SSN.

        State of Michigan.

      • Frustrated

        Last Thursday I was contacted by a collection about a debt that was paid in 2013. The original creditor sent an email stating beyond their control they can no longer service my account and I would be contacted by a collection agency (Allied Fidelity). The email states that I am a valued customer and my account is in good standing, however Allied Fidelity will take over my account. The collection agency that contacted me last week said it is in Final review, and if I do not pay I will be before a judge. I faxed the email along with my bank statement showing the payment was debit from my account by Allied Fidelity. I was told that they are sorry, this account was sent to several collection agency. Either I pay 325.00 or 800. The original debt was 250.00. I explained to them that I never received any correspondence. I asked for correspondence I was told they didn’t have to send anything because it’s in final review. This is a courtesy. I need help, what can I do. Thanks

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Something doesn’t sound right here. Have you researched this “new” collection agency on to find out if they are a legitimate collection agency?

          There is no such thing as denying you the right to written notification of the debt because it is in “Final Review.” The FDCPA makes no such exception. I am concerned you may be dealing with a scammer. Please proceed with extreme caution and don’t be scared into paying a debt you don’t owe. (You can always tell them you’ll be happy to go in front of a judge and show your proof of payment.)

          Please read this: 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

          • Frustrated

            I also asked why didn’t the original company go to the Agency the obtain and sue them, I was told that my account was with several agencies. That I can sue Allied Fidelity. They said because I didn’t have proof that the account was paid in full. I said the original debt was 265.00 I made 2 payments in the amount of 132.50. Which is on my bank statement. They told me I have to have a receipt stating it was paid. They’ve called my family, friends. Very frustrated

            • Gerri Detweiler

              What is the name of this new collection agency you are dealing with? It’s their responsibility to verify the debt if you dispute it and they are not allowed to call friends or family. Again, I suspect this is not on the up and up.

              • Frustrated

                The name is Capital Management Group so they say, but when their calling my caller ID shows Mediation Solutions. I try to verify them from the website you provided. Nothing came up, they didn’t provide me with an account number. I entered their name and type of debt.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                I’d suggest you go to the Capital Management Group website: Contact them directly. Ask to speak to a manager then explain the situation and ask for written confirmation of the debt. It is possible someone impersonating them is trying to make a quick buck from you. Let us know what you find out.

              • Frustrated

                Hello, I’ve tried that. I was told it’s in final review. I faxed a copy of my bank statement where the other collection Agency debit from my account, plus the email that was sent. I was told I had less than 72 hours before I receive a summons to court if I didn’t take of the matter.. These people won’t stop. I’m currently writing my Attorney General.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                Your AG’s office probably won’t do a lot to help. Contact a consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection cases. If they think you have a good case they will help you at no out of pocket cost to you because the debt collector will have to pay your attorney’s fees if it’s breaking the law. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help finding one.

      • Shanel Marchany

        I got a gym membership with my husband under his credit card about a year ago. We had a contract for 2 years and ran into financial issues, so my husband and I stopped attending the gym. I just received a call from the collection agency asking ME to pay the $450 bill. It this legal even though my credit card wasn’t used to pay the account?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If you both signed the contract then it’s likely you are both responsible for the entire bill, regardless of the payment method used. However, I am not an attorney so if you need legal advice I would recommend you consult one.

      • Unhappy

        I had a month to month gym membership and I was using a personal trainer of theirs. They fired my trainer and I quit the gym, turned in my key. I had 2 months left on my trainer contract. They wouldn’t let me out of that payment, so I cancelled my credit card. I received numerous calls from a their finance company which I did not answer. I few weeks ago I received a letter from a collection agency. I assume this has already damaged my credit…so I’d rather not pay the bill (under $200). It’s not the amount as much as the frustration of unfairly losing my trainer and being asked to pay for something I didn’t use.
        What can happen now, if I don’t pay?

        • Credit Experts

          Unhappy —
          Have you reviewed your gym membership to see exactly what it says about cancellation? Or what happens when your trainer becomes unavailable? Please check your credit before assuming the damage is done. Depending on how late it is, it may not have been reported (and some very small collection agencies do not report). Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free. You can also get a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies at Cancelling your credit card may have hurt your score.

          If you don’t pay, you could be sued. If the agency obtains a judgment against you, you may have to pay late fees, penalties and legal fees as well. And a judgment on your credit report has a bigger negative impact than a collections account.

      • Emily

        My ex husband took out a credit card with Mens Warehouse about 5 years ago. We divorced shortly after and he stopped paying his debts. During this time I also filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy due to the divorce. Just a few days ago I received a notice from the collections agency that now manages the Mens Warehouse debt saying that I have 30 days to dispute the debt. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember whether or not I was a cosigner on the card, but this debt has never shown up in my credit reports, even when they were run during the bankruptcy process. If it is not showing up on my credit report, does that mean I am not liable for the debt? And if I am, what can I do to dispute this?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is unlikely that the debt is yours if it never showed up on your credit reports, but it’s not proof that it wasn’t. You can simply follow the instructions on the letter and send them a certified letter stating that this is your ex-husband’s debt, not yours. Ask them to validate the debt if they believe you are responsible. Hopefully that will take care of it.

      • betty

        My husband had a company and after 6 years got an audit from City of Chicago about a tax he never knew about it. He called them several times and ask them if it’s any tax to be paid but they all the time told him “no you don’t have to pay any tax”. After the audit they came and want $38500 for 6 years of business with penalty and negligence and interest fee. Than my hubby went in hearing with them for more the 2
        years. After the hearing the judge told him that he had to know about that tax and he had to pay entire amount. Now he get from collection law firm a letter asking for $45000.

        What to do now? He didn’t collect this tax never from customers because he didn’t know about and we don’t have this huge amount.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I wish I could help but he really needs to consult a tax professional (probably a tax attorney) who helps taxpayers in these kinds of situations. It would have been wise to consult one before the audit, but he should still do so now in order to find out whether the can challenge this, and if not, how to work out some way to resolve it.

          • betty

            Thank you. He went to 5 lawyers before the trial but nobody wanted to fight with City of Chicago judge (they knew they will loose the case from start)…

      • Stephanie Barnes Moran

        I have a collection item on my report that have a 51 month term. I never had had a term with the original credit, because it was a utility bill. I never sign any term agreement with the collection company either. What should I do? I have disputed it twice both time it was verified.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Stephanie – I am not sure I understand your question. Did you have an account with this utility company that went delinquent? Or are you simply disputing the fact that the collection account says the terms listed is 51 months? If you never had a delinquent account then you should definitely consult a consumer law attorney at this point. If the latter, then it’s more challenging. You could try filing a complaint with the CFPB or reach out to a consumer law attorney, but I am not sure that the case would be strong enough to interest an attorney.

      • Deanna Pooley

        Hello I am new to this site, but im trying to get some answes, I don’t know who to ask im from NJ and in March of 2012 my husband and I moved into our first apartment together. Are electric bill was too high for us as my husband was the only one working because i was pregnant, so we applied for help for the electric bill and got denied! (Have to love NJ) well are electric got shut off and and out rent money had to go to turning back on the electric. we made the office aware of what was going on and made an agreement of how much we could do a week to catch up, I had my son October 5th a few days after he was born my husband was layed off from his job a few days later after that we got court papers for an evction. We went in November and we talked to the apartment complexes laywer and we agreed we would sign saying we would pay it but not really do it and that we voluntarily left the premises we left 3 days after court. We got court papers after saying we owed 2068.78 we were fine with that, and we told them once we had an income again we would pay it back ny husband was out of work for over a year and he just started work last summer we came with over 2000 and called the Collection agency and they said we owed 2800 plus another 1000 b.c they were charging us on our water sewer trash Etc. till January 2013 when are papers agreed to be out 2 weeks after court date we came to an agreement with them to pay 2800 and call it fair well we paid yesterday in the amount of 2,225.16 and we owe 670 but the end of July which will be paid! How will this appear on my husband and I credit. We are not looking to rent anymore but rather buy a house! How will this look to the banks and we are getting a letter saying its paid do i have to ask them to remove this from out credit too? And how long will it take to post to it and if we had to rent would this effect us?!?!?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Utilities and past due rent are not usually reported on standard credit reports. But if they have been sent to collections they will, and that can affect your ability to get a mortgage. If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest you get your free annual credit reports. As for next steps, you’ll be first time homebuyers right? I suggest you talk with a housing counselor who can help you go over your credit and put together a game plan. You’ll find a list of HUD- approved housing counselors here.

          • Deanna Pooley

            Unfortunately that does not answer my question will this effect me if all utilities and eviction are paid off

      • linn

        gerri i have a question. we filed 4 years ago in illinois but 1 cc got left out somehow. we never got bills or creditor calls. we had a 2nd mortgage & recently they sold their loans to anther company & due to that 1 cc they want to drop us and are telling us to pay off the loan with them or the bank will sue. i had no idea about this cc still being there. we had no calls & no bills. we live in illinois & i believe they have 10 years to do something about it. at this time they still have no contact with us. what do i do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Can you get in touch with your bankruptcy attorney? I would urge you to talk with them for advice. You may have options but it’s not simple and straightforward, and the attorney can advise you based on the specifics of your case.

      • Leah Nichole

        I have a couple of questions that I have been trying to research:
        1. Do credit agencies have a certain amount of time to initially contact you?
        2. If an account in collections is disputed through 1 of 3 credit agencies, and removed because the collection agency did not respond within 30 days, can the collection have to be ceased all together? Or do I have to dispute it through all three agencies?

        I ask because I had an account sent to collections in 2013, but never received any contact (phone, mail..nothing). I noticed the collection agency on my 2014 credit report and tried to contact them to inquire about what the debt was, but was unsuccessful. All of the online numbers for their company were incorrect. So in 2015 I disputed the claim, because it continued to show, and it was removed in January of 2015. In May I finally received my first letter from them. However, it’s already been disputed and removed so I don’t know what my options are now.

      • Kat3324

        Is it okay to be proactive with contacting creditors about old accounts? I have a few that are left over from a divorce, that are still on my credit report as negative information.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          How old are they? Have you checked the statute of limitations? If they have expired and you start making payment arrangements you may start that time period over again, and even risk a lawsuit.

      • John

        What if you negotiated a settlement with the agency that bought your debt and you paid the settlement fee in full. As you mentioned in this article you’ll have the original creditor listed and the agency that bought your debt listed on your credit report. What if the original creditor (in my case it’s Chase) refuses to update their records, as it still list the account as charged off – late. Even the agency who bought the debt lists it as paid – settled on my report. Is that a violation of FCRA and could Chase face statutory damages?

      • Jamie

        Ok im new to this..I have never had credit.but I have debt….so I have debt that is owed who or how do I pay them off there someone that collects this amount or do I contact the placed owed and pay them… there a # to call…or what I want my score to come up but moatly I want my debt payed off..someone help me

        • Credit Experts

          Jamie —
          It’s hard to understand how you would have debt without first being extended credit. Can you try to explain a bit more?

      • Monique

        On June 29 I received a letter from an attorney about a past due debt. On the 15th of July I received a summons for the debt. I have called and made arrangement to pay the debt but I’m wondering if my rights have been violated by not getting the designated amount of time to validate the debt before being sued. I ‘m not trying to get out of paying. Just don’t want it on my credit report.

      • Sahkanah Hills

        I have a broken lease from 2009 that went into collections and the collection agency keeps reporting this old debt and in all three reports the collectors have different names. Can they keep doing this? And if so for how long can they do this? I live in Texas and I’m not sure what the law is about this.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Collection accounts can be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date of original delinquency. That’s probably when you broke your lease. So it sounds like it should be coming off your reports sometime within the next year or so, depending on the exact dates. As for the duplicate collection accounts, you can try disputing them with the collection agency as duplicate accounts. Read more here: Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

          • Sahkanah Hills

            I was checking out Texas laws on debt from what I’ve read the statue of limitation is 4 years. Wouldn’t this apply.Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 2, Subtitle B, Chapter 16.004 Sec. 16.004.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              The statute of limitations is different than the time period that information can appear on credit reports. The latter is governed by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act unless there is a state law that says otherwise. Please read: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

      • Alanna

        I was mailed a check from an insurance company who said they were liable for something and then later changed their mind and say they want the money back. They have said they are going to collections. Can they do this? I never had any contract or bills with them.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I have no idea unfortunately. I would depend on the facts and the circumstances of the situation. You may want to check with your insurance agent or your state insurance commissioner.

      Sign up for your free account. Learn More receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.