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From the Experts at

What Are Debt Collection Laws? For Instance, Can a Debt Collector Call You at Work?

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Being in debt is nerve-wracking enough without getting telephone calls at work. It’s bad enough that you’re in debt, but you could get in trouble at your office, the place you need to be to get out of debt. Can a debt collector call you at work? What about other debt collection laws and your consumer rights?

The good news? You aren’t defenseless in situations like this. That’s thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. That’s 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 that was sent to collections. Debts covered under this law include auto loans, medical bills and credit card bills.

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    To help you understand your debt collection laws and your debt collection rights, here are 10 important rules a debt collector has to follow when it contacts you about an unpaid bill.

    Can a Debt Collector Call You at Work?

    Debt collectors can call you at work. But, if you’d rather they don’t, you can tell them not to and they have to stop.

    If a debt collector calls you at work and your boss picks up, the debt collector isn’t allowed to call your office again unless your boss gives them permission to do so.

    To get them to stop contacting you at all, you need to send a written letter telling them not to contact you. Or get your boss to tell them not to call you at work.

    After this point, a debt collector can only call to inform you that your creditor is suing you or taking other action against you.

    When Can a Debt Collector Call You?

    Debt collectors can legally call you at a reasonable time. Legally this varies by state, but most often, this means between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your local time zone. If you work during these hours and haven’t taken steps to stop them, debt collectors can call your job. Also, if you ask them to call during this time, they can.

    Debt collectors can legally contact you by email, fax, mobile number or regular mail. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t specify any restrictions about receiving text messages, because text messages didn’t exist when the act was passed in 1977.

    If a collector contacts you outside any of these methods or at an unreasonable hour, keep a record of each contact, especially if it happens frequently.

    Also, debt collectors can’t call you numerous times a day. Doing so is considered a form of harassment by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and is explicitly not allowed.

    It’s also within your debt collection rights to inform a collection agency that you disagree with what they’re claiming you owe—and once you’ve done so, in writing, they’re required to stop contacting you while the debt is verified.

    Who Can a Debt Collector Call?

    A debt collector can call your boss, your friends and your family looking for you. But, a debt collector can’t tell them that they’re calling to collect debts, nor can they call that person a second time. Their interaction is legally limited to a single phone call. It’s also limited to finding out your address, your phone number and where you work. In most cases, a debt collector may not tell anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney that you owe money.

    What Can Debt Collectors Say?

    Debt collectors are also not allowed to threaten you. Threatening you is considered harassment and is strictly prohibited by the FTC. They can’t threaten to sue you for not paying unless they really intend to. They can’t subject you to threats of violence. They can’t threaten to take your property or have you arrested. And they can’t threaten to publish any information about your debt except to a credit reporting agency.

    How Much Can Debt Collectors Ask for?

    A debt collector can’t ask you for more money than you actually owe. When the debt collector sends you the written debt validation notice, the notice has to include the specific amount the collector claims you owe. A debt collector can’t legally say that you owe more.

    If you suspect the amount of money you’re asked to pay isn’t the correct amount, send a letter to the debt collection agency notifying it of this within 30 days. The agency then has to verify the debt in writing. It can’t contact you again until it does.

    You can dispute the debt after 30 days, but the debt collector can keep calling because you missed the 30-day deadline.

    If you dispute the debt because you don’t think you owe the money or the amount is incorrect, the debt collector has to stop calling you while your claim is investigated. And debt collectors have to verify any debt you dispute in writing prior to renewing collection calls. Once a debt collector sends you verification of the debt, collection activities—and calls, emails and more—can start up again.

    What Does a Debt Verification Notice Include?

    A debt collector has to send you a written statement outlining the specifics of your debt that is in collection. Within five days of contacting you, a debt collector must send you this written notice with the amount of money you owe and the name of the original creditor. This notice also must explain what actions to take if you believe you don’t owe the money.

    What to Do if a Collector Violates Debt Collection Laws

    Simply informing a debt collector that you’re aware of the laws and your rights can curb collection behavior.

    If a debt collector breaks any laws when contacting you about a debt, you can—and should—report the 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 can inform you of additional local rights you may have.

    Do You Need an Attorney?

    The first person who must stand up for your debt collection rights is you. Don’t let a debt collector intimidate or harass you with illegal tactics. Dealing with a debt collector who plays by the rules can be a stressful experience too. If you need assistance or advice, consider contacting an attorney.

    The Consumer Protection website from the Federal Citizen Information Center has links to state and local consumer protection agencies, including state attorney general offices.

    Your debt collection rights include that the debt collection agency must contact your attorney, once you’ve hired one. So if you have an attorney handle your debt, you can tell your debt collector to speak with him/her. After that, you shouldn’t have to worry about a debt collector calling you again. The only exception to this is if your attorney gives them permission to call you again. connects low- and moderate-income Americans with free legal aid programs in their communities. And the American Bar Association has a consumer guide that provides a directory of legal resources available in each state. You may also be able to find an attorney with debt collection experience through the National Association of Consumer Advocates—a nonprofit association of attorneys and consumer advocates that has members throughout the country.

    A debt attorney can negotiate deals with whoever owns your debt, and he/she can handle any lawsuit brought against you. In worst case scenarios, a debt attorney is the one who files for bankruptcy for you.

    How Debt Collections Affects Your Credit

    If you have a debt in collections, it’s a good idea to see how it’s affecting your credit even if you pay the debt. It’s easy and free to do to check your credit. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three main credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—annually. You can access them by visiting

    As you pay off your debts, you can see how it’s impacting your credit by taking a look at your free Experian credit score and free credit report card on Your score and report card give you insight into each of the five factors that make up your scores—payment history, debt usage, variety of accounts, age of credit accounts and credit inquiries.

    Debt Collectors Don’t Own You

    There are legal limits on how debt collectors are allowed to interact with you and that protect you from deceptive practices. You can invoke these limits to stop annoying calls and other forms of contact.

    Although stopping contact won’t cancel your debt, not getting calls can take a lot of pressure off of you. You should be in control of when you’ll pay your debt and when you have to stop and worry about it.

    To learn more about dealing with debt and how it can affect your life and your credit, check out the Debt Learning Center on

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      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.

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      • 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?

        • 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

          • 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.

            • 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.

              • 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.

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • Michael Bovee

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

      • 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.

        • 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 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.

      • 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?)

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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!

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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 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?

        • 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?

        • 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.

      • 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?

      • 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

      • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

      • Credit Experts

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

      • 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

      • 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!

        • 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.

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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?

      • 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.)

      • 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

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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

        • 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?

        • 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?

        • 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.

      • 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 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%?

        • 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?

      • 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 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?

        • 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 for a referral.

      • 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.

        • 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 and monitor your credit scores for free at so you can see how this is impacting your credit.

      • 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

      • 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.

      • 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?

      • 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.

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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?

        • 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.

        • LaWanda Nicole Hunt

          Bobbi by law they have to let you out because of your orders. I’ve had a friend whose complex did the same thing. They also received their deposit back.

          • Sanford Goldstein

            Why orders get you out of a lease

            If you have orders for either a PCS or a deployment longer than 90 days, federal law allows you to terminate your lease.

            Federal Law, 50 U.S.C. App. Section 535, known as the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), provides this right to men and women in the military and their families. If you are have orders it doesn’t matter if you have a military clause in your lease or not – you are off the hook.

            But to use it you have to follow specific procedure. Here are the details:

            – You must provide written notice of your intent to invoke your rights under the SCRA to your landlord as well as a copy of your orders. Orders haven’t come through yet? Ask your commander for a letter telling you that you are receiving PCS orders.

            – Know that the timing can be tricky. Your termination becomes effective 30 days after the next rental payment is due. That means that if your rent is due on the first of the month, and you deliver your notice on March 7, the termination date will be April 30th.

            – The landlord can’t penalize you and must return all rent collected for periods after the termination date. They can challenge the justice of it in court, but you are highly likely to win if everything on your side is honest.

            – This applies to both the service member and spouse, even if both names are on the lease. However, for SCRA protections, the Servicemember’s name must be on the lease. If the lease was signed in his or her name with a power of attorney, the service member is covered.. It does not cover a fiancé or a friend. In that case you’ll have to see if state law in your area does. Some state laws and many courts will, in practice, extend SCRA protection when the lease was for the use of the Servicemember even if he or she is not on the lease.

            So what about a military clause?

            A Military Clause may change the agreement between the parties, but unless waived in a separate and clearly marked agreement, the rights we just talked about are still there. Military clause or not, if you have orders the SCRA covers you.

            What a military clause can do is give you more rights or lay out a more user friendly way to invoke your SCRA rights. It could, for example, allow to break your lease if you were to receive on-base housing.

            By and large, most Military Clauses are left over from the days before the rights discussed above were written into law. Look at them closely, and don’t hesitate to ask for one that includes situations you expect to encounter (like base housing coming open).

            Read more:

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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

        • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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 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.

      • 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 for a referral to one in your area.

      • 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?

        • 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

      • 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 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

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • Credit Experts

        You’re right. Thanks for that.

      • 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?

          • 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 for a referral.

      • Credit Experts

        Did you get this promise in writing?

      • 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!!!!!!

        • 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.

        • Karen

          I worked for Countrywide , Wells Fargo is in the right to call you . Your mortgage is due on the 1st.
          It is not late meaning late charges due not accrue until the 16th.

      • 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.

      • Credit Experts

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

      • Credit Experts


      • 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.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Sometimes it does work, but sometimes they have sold the debt to a collection agency and they can’t or won’t accept payment from you anymore. It really depends on the situation.

      • 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.

        • TrickleUpPolitics

          The answer is yes, it can appear twice. In fact, every time the debt was purchased by another debt collection agency they can put an entry on your credit report. I have double entries on my credit report from when Nelnet handled my student loans and then transferred them to the Dept of Ed. I contacted Nelnet to get them to remove their entry, but they give you the “we’re not allowed to report incorrect information”. Well, guess what, there is a provision in the Fair Debt Reporting Act that says the law about not reporting inaccurate information (for example, removing your late payments) says that it does not apply to furnishers if they display an address on your report that consumers can write to. So when you are asking for a goodwill delete, or a removal of late reports, write and tell them the law allows it.

          • Karen

            For quite some time I worked in the Student Loan Industry, for correct info you should contact
            US dept of ED or William D. Ford. Either one will give all accurate student loan information.

      • 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?

        • 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.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Sounds like a mess!

          • Paul Brown

            Yes it is and I’m not going to pay for something that the supplemental insurance should have paid for in the first place if the Hospital had gotten things right in the first place, but the girl that inputted the wrong info screwed everything up, and to top it off she is still there doing the same job as before.

      • 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?

        • 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?

        • 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.

            • 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?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If the collector is breaking the law the attorney may represent you at no cost to you because the collector would have to pay attorney’s fees.

          • Tad Wesley

            Good point, didn’t think of that 🙂

      • 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:

        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:

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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?.

      • 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.

      • 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

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

        • Aimee Leigh Loftus

          Once I am sure that I have paid off debts (collections) and have filed necessary documents releasing judgements, I request the credit bureau to remove it. Since the debt is paid, more times than not, the company who reported the debt will not respond to the dispute and this allows the agency to remove it from your report. Only after I receive a statement stating why my dispute was not taken off the report do I do more leg work. Usually all that has entailed was talking to the right person and they put something on that account stating it won’t be re-reported. Then I dispute it again to the bureau and it comes off. Although companies report the debt, they usually will not go back to the credit bureaus and request it be removed. However, they usually won’t re-report the debt to the credit bureau once it is removed and if you dispute the debt, they won’t respond. So it is always best to do the work yourself and it isn’t hard at all. I hope I made some sense out of that.

          We were repairing our credit to become eligible for a mortgage and our scores were horrific. I went through my husband’s report and found way too many judgments/collections (medical) that were taken care of but remained on his report. Within about 2 months we had our scores improved by 200 points and became eligible for the bank mortgage. It sounds drastic, because it was. Now I am sure to monitor our reports yearly and keep ’em clean.

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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

        • 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?

        • 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.

      • 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.

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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?

      • 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 if you need a referral.) The attorney should help you at no cost to you and you may be entitled to damages as well.

      • 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.

      • 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

        • Linda Hoyt

          I have accounts that have been out of the TX state of limitations for 6-12 months but the credit agencies are still allowing them to report a balance that is collectible. They claim they are allowed to do this under the FCRA for 7 years. Why are lenders including time barred loans in my debt ratio?

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Really good question! I suppose there is always the risk that they sue you, you don’t show up and they get a judgment. It happens all the time with consumers who don’t know your rights like you do.

            • Linda Hoyt

              Isn’t it a violation of the FCRA for them to report balances that are out of the statue of limitations? They can report there were balances but not a payment or that they are currently past due was my understanding.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                Not that I am aware of. The FCRA spells out how long negative information may be reported, but it may be different than the statute of limitations. For example, if you defaulted on a credit card the charge off can be reported for seven years from the date it was charged off. But in most states the statute of limitations expires in four to six years.

      • 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

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Consult a bankruptcy attorney.

      • 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!

      • 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?

        • Credit Experts

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

      • Credit Experts

        Can you tell us what state you are in?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What is the debt for? What state do you live in?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yikes. I am not sure what kind of notification is required in that situation. I’d suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney ( can help or refer you to one who is familiar with student loan law issues). You can also try contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint.

      • kandy

        what happens i i have a charge off on my credit and im paying them money but they are not reporting it . is this violating my rights?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Monthly payments on a charged off account aren’t typically reported, but even if they were the fact that it was charged off wouldn’t change. In other words, it probably wouldn’t help your credit scores to have them reported. Is that what you are asking?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Do you think they could be yours?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am confused Amy. Did you live there previously? Do you think these bills are yours?

      • Credit Experts

        How did they know your account number?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        File the fraud report and keep good records – in a place where you can find them indefinitely. Also check your free credit reports and get a free credit score from to see whether this is affecting his credit. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

      • Michael

        I wonder if that’s really the case. Often I think that it’s just a way to justify outrageous prices, just because they can and know that they can get away with it. I have Anthem Bluecross. the coverage has doesn’t done [anything] for me. I still have high bills via the difference, that I have to pay out of my pocket. And the bills are not cheap.

        • Jennifer Gottfried

          They charge $9 for a tongue depressor because for every paying patient they have 10 non-paying or low-paying patient. If they just charged reasonable rates even those who can’t afford $4600 for a Tylenol could afford to pay $200 for an ER visit.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Lana – It really depends on how they handle it. Do you know if it’s on there now? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. If the university pulls it back from collections then it probably will stop reporting but the only way to fully protect yourself is to get something in writing…

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Lois – Anytime you get a bill for a debt collector and you aren’t sure you owe it, you have the right to request the collector verify the debt. Send them a written letter (via certified mail) explaining that you don’t believe you owe this debt and ask them to verify it. In the meantime, contact the hospital to see if you can find out what this is about. This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened to consumers. We wrote about it here:

        Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

        If you can confirm the hospital never sent you the bill, I’d encourage you to try to do the same and get them to pull it back from collections. And please check your credit reports and scores to see if this is being reported. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am not sure what you are asking but if a third party collection agency contacts you to collect a payday loan, they must follow the law as described above. Just be careful: in the case of payday loans, there are many scammers who try to collect loans they have nothing to do with. Read: 9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

      • Gerri Detweiler

        No they can’t force you to do that. And you’re smart not to.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I’d suggest you file a complaint about this lender with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And let the lender know you have done so. If you live in California they may be breaking the law, though, so you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney.

      • klorraine

        Thank you they act like they know all of our finances. What do they really see other than credit cards.

      • klorraine

        So any suggestions? They only want 1/2 of it and $600 amonth. Which I can not afford.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I am confused. Did you post another comment that I am missing?

      • CHARLIE 1981

        Can repo company or collection agency contact friends that are not used a refrence to discuss a debt if not what can I do about it if they did ?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The collection agency has likely broken the law. You can either file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a consumer law attorney with experience in representing consumers in debt collection cases. (Visit for a referral.)

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Wow! That certainly sounds crazy – $660 to take his blood pressure? On the other hand, until they did they didn’t know what was wrong with him and they may have treated it like any other patient who would come into the ER – and with the ER just walking through the door is expensive.

        I am not sure what to tell you. I do think your credit is at risk. You can dispute it but it’s challenging for the collection agency to take sides here. If it was placed in collections within the last 30 days you can send a certified letter stating you don’t believe you owe the debt and see what happens. I’ll ask some of our other medical billing experts to weigh in.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        One of our experts wants to know if you registered your child when this happened.

      • james

        by law can a collection agency add an item to credit report without prior notification to the debtor ???

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Yes unfortunately. I am not aware of any laws, certainly federal laws, that prohibit that. Of course if the information is inaccurate or incomplete you can dispute it.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        He is entitled by law to dispute the collection account and request validation. If he decides to do that he should do so right away by sending a certified letter to the collection agency stating he doesn’t believe he owes the debt and asking for verification. Doing so does not extend the statute of limitations. Let us know what happens.

      • Credit Experts

        Yes, checking credit reports regularly is crucial. Glad to hear you are doing it.

      • Lorne.

        I am getting several phone calls a day from credit protection assiocates. Sometimes 3 or 4 back to back. No sooner I hit ignore they call right back.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        When a credit card is charged off it is typical for the credit report to show both the original debt plus a collection account, if the debt is sent to collections. Is that what you are asking? Or are you concerned that the collector added $1 to the balance? In most states it is legal for interest or other fees to be added when an account goes into collections, but $1 seems like an odd amount. You could always try disputing it.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Can you be more specific about the problem you are having? Perhaps we can point you in the right direction.

      • Ronnie

        I have two different collection agency calling me about the same bill, what should I do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Insist they both send you a written notice of the debt which you are entitled to under federal law. Then dispute the debt in writing immediately (send your letter certified mail) and ask them to verify it.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The original date of delinquency is the date the consumer defaulted leading up to the account being placed for collection. So if the phone company was correct and your husband didn’t pay a bill in, let’s say October 2007, then that’s when the time period starts. It runs for seven years plus 180 days from that date (essentially 7.5 years).

        The statute of limitations is a different time period, and my understanding is that in Michigan it is six years.

        If you want to find an attorney who handles credit damage/ debt collection cases I suggest you visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Another option would be to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

      • heath

        I was just contacted by a company called “pre-trial” telling me I have a summons for 2 counts of fraud stemming from a payday loan back in 2011. they were very aggressive and told me I was basically going to jail. I could pay $550 to keep it out of court or get served and take my chances. I asked for written documentation and proof of who they were then got told good luck and got hung up on. The number they called from is (406)5452100. Is this a scam?

        • Credit Experts

          It does not sound legitimate, and you are right to be suspicious. (And scammers try hard to get people to pay “now,” before they have time to do any checking.) Here’s more on how to tell if a debt collector is for real.
          9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

      • Credit Experts

        Who is “they”?

        Unfortunately, they might be able to. We wrote about this in Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

        Good luck to you.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Sure sounds like it could be a violation. Did this happen in Florida? I’d suggest this article: New Ruling: Debt Collectors Could Be Fined $1,500 Every Time They Call

      • Katy Johnson

        We have a credit balance with a carpet store, and it has been six years and they have not sent us an accounting of the account or sent us a check for our credit balance. We bought carpet from them, and gave them money to post on our account toward the purchase of more carpet. They told us they had the carpet in their warehouse, and all we needed to do was to pay for the installation of the carpet when we were ready to have it laid. We had some serious health issues and were unable to have the carpet laid but we failed to contact them and let them know of that issue, now they have not sent us a check or ever sent us an accounting of the account balance ever. When we would call to ask them about the account and ask how much more we needed to pay we were told we had paid enough and just needed to pay for the installation when we had it laid. How do we approach this to get our money back, or find out what the balance is and if they have the carpet they said they had purchased for us and was in their warehouse. What do we do now?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If you don’t have records of what happened it may be hard to prove your side of the story. Nevertheless, you can either try contacting a consumer law attorney or try filing a complaint with your local BBB, and/or your state attorney general.

      • Mariam

        T mobile mistakenly send my current acct to collections. It was only for 160. When I called T mobile they said they can’t change anything now since they have just sold it off. Being so naive about collections, I called them and they agreed that if i pay right now on phone, they will gladly waive the $15 fee. I gave them all my bank info and the next thing I know they withdraw 170 from my acct. I called and asked for a 10 refund. And they started verbally abusing me. Eventually after screaming at them, they said they will refund me 10 and I will see it in 2 weeks. Nothing was on paper and it was all verbal. I have asked them to send me a letter that say my acct is settled in full and will not be reported to credit bureau. (I made the payment within 30 days) but the guy said he will not do it now. He will wait 2 weeks before he send me a letter. I know now after researching online, that I will not see the refund and they might still keep my acct open and even send to credit bureau. What should I do? My credit is excellent and they are not helping me. They tricked me into giving them my bank info so they will take more money out.

        • Michael Bovee

          Take a moment to jot down complete notes of all the transpired, with dates, names, and even phone numbers you called or that called you. Do that now while everything is fresh in your mind. And get specific about call dates and precise times, if you can pull that from call logs.

          If you do not receive all that they represented they would follow through on (and they have not already), post an update to this comment string and lets go from there.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. So if this bill was due in January 2009 then the collection account can be reported until June 2016. (You didn’t say which month in 2009 it was due.) However, this account should list the original date of delinquency – the date in 2009 when the bill was not paid. If it does not, I’d suggest you dispute it. A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

      • Michael Bovee

        Is it Progressive that is actually the furnisher of the information to the credit reporting agencies, or is it a debt collection company reporting about the old Progressive account?

      • Gem46

        What is a time-barred debts and time on limitation

      • Gem46

        I understand that part but it the same as like capital one it’ll show up on your credit report but then you have a collection company also reporting it so theory you have more outstanding debt then suppose to

        • Michael Bovee

          You should not have 2 negative trade lines for the same debt that both show a balance as due and owing to each.*

          You can have multiple negatives for the same debt. But with your example, if Capital One shows the monthly late payments, all the way to charge off; sells the debt to a debt buyer who then reports the debt, and with a balance owed to them; the Capital One trade line should show a zero balance owed (because it is no longer owed to them, as they sold the legal rights).

          * Judgment debts showing in the public records section of your credit reports are often an unfortunate exception.

          • TrickleUpPolitics

            The balance may be zero but all of the late payments AND the charge off are still there and included in your FICO score calculation. Write them a goodwill delete letter.

      • Michael Bovee

        Have you consulted with an experienced consumer law attorney with a practice focusing on fair credit reporting? That would be the first place I would turn to for advice on how to proceed with disputes (both with the court if they are in the wrong,and with the credit reporting agencies).

        Agood resource to look for an attorney near you with this type of experience is

        • Gem46

          Thanks i appricate your help

      • Adrienne

        I recently found out that a medical procedure wasn’t covered by my insurance, but the hospital sent the bill to a wrong address. I’ve only been informed through my credit report that I’m in collections for a bill I never received. Is there a way to dispute their claim as I was never given a chance to pay in good faith?

        • Credit Experts

          It’s possible that your medical provider might be able to pull it back from collections. It’s worth asking.

          • Adrienne

            They said they couldn’t as it was my mailman’s job to deliver the notice to the correct address as it was only a number off, so I’m apparently in the wrong.

            • Credit Experts

              Is that the first person you’ve talked to? Or might a supervisor be able to help? That is frustrating. (But you’re not the only person is has happened to, unfortunately.)

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I’m really not sure. You’d have to either talk to a consumer law attorney or complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s impossible to say. Were there out-of-pocket costs? Did she receive medical care from out-of-network providers? Or were there simply billing errors? What state did this happen in? It’s possible the statute of limitations has expired.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau involved. File a complaint. Let us know what happens!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Probably. At least the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. You could always try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • B Darlene Gillespie

        Medical Bill has been sent to Collection Agency. Have talked to them and have not come to an agreement on the amount that I can pay. I know $15.00 a month is not much but it is to me. They are demanding a down payment and a $30.00 a month. This is not possible. I owe another agency almost $3,000.00 and they are taking $25.00 a month. I have already sent $15.00 and they have cashed it.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Collection agencies are not required to accept what you can afford, and some of them will push to try to get you to pay as much as possible. Unfortunately, you can only do what you can do.

          I would encourage you think carefully about your strategy of making very small payments on these debts. Doing so extends the statute of limitations. And if they are charging you interest (have you asked?) then you may not be making a dent in the actual balance. You could be putting your self in a position where you could be sued down the road for an even larger amount than you owed going into this.

          I’d suggest you to talk with a bankruptcy attorney. Even if bankruptcy isn’t a good option for you the attorney should be able to tell you what your options are if you can’t pay.

      • Michele

        If you are making continuous monthly payments on a hospital bill can they still send you to collections and the collection company put something on your credit report. I was always told if you are at least making an effort to resolve the debt that they couldn’t do anything to your credit. Is this the case?

        • Credit Experts

          Sorry to hear this. Medical debt can be a huge problem.
          Unfortunately, the answer to your question is no. We wrote about it here: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe? What you can do is try to negotiate with the hospital. If you can work out a payment plan, you might be able to persuade the hospital to pull it back out of collections. You may find some ideas here: Big Hospital Bill? Negotiate!. Good luck to you.

      • Hay

        “A debt collector may not demand more money from you than you actually owe.” I have received a debt from an “attorney” who is charging their fee as well. Is this normal?

      • Trying to comply

        A collection agency for the debt of education is driving me insane. I am complying and sending in a money order each month, however, they are saying they can’t process the payment or give me credit until I fill out their paper work and send it back. On the paper work they are requesting copies of my check stubs. Why does this matter if I am paying them. DO I have to give them this information?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Who is the collection agency? Is this a federal or private student loan? Are you in default?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I suggest you start with a written dispute. Here’s how:

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

      • Dave

        I’ve received calls from a number that I did not recognize and they never left messages. I called back and blocked my number and they told me they were an attorney’s office, but refused to tell me what kind of law they practiced despite multiple inquiries. I went to their web site and it said they were debt collectors. Does anyone know if it was illegal for them to refuse to tell me the nature of their business and does anyone know if debt collectors are allowed to call you repeatedly and hang up without leaving messages.

      • Credit Experts

        You should confirm that you are really dealing with your creditor and not a scammer. But if it all checks out, you can go ahead and respond.

      • Clay

        In the case i had a medical bill that wasn’t filed by the provider and it was sent to collections. After discussing the issue with the provider they realized the mistake and called the collections agency to have it removed, how long does the agency have to remove the collection from my credit report?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If you had officially filed a dispute with the credit reporting agency or the collection agency that was reporting then they would have 30 days to investigate and respond. But since you’re using this backdoor way (which is a good approach as far as I’m concerned), I don’t believe there’s a specific time frame. However, I would expect you should see it off there within a month or so. If not, you may have to go the official dispute route.

      • Michael Bovee

        Each state has laws that govern what interest can be charged on judgments. Most cap the interest, and often at around 10% (give or take a few points).

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yes, you can absolutely talk with a consumer law attorney because the debt collector may be breaking the law. If it is, you may be entitled to damages and the collector will have to pay your attorney’s fees. You can visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find an attorney in your area. The other option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        So I assume it’s a scam? Any legitimate attorney who collects debts knows they have to follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which would not permit them to make illegal threats. If they call again, insist they send something in writing which is your right under federal law.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. However, there may be state laws that do apply. You can do one of two things: talk with a consumer law attorney, or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        You will need to talk with a consumer law attorney if you want to find out whether you have a case. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts, so whether this company acted legally would depend on whether they have violated other state or federal laws.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I’m not aware of any law that requires the original creditor to accept the payment if the debt is been sold to a collection agency.

        We wrote about that here: How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Creditors are not obligated to accept what you can afford, and neither are debt collectors. Has your debt already been placed with a collection agency?

        • vsain

          So if you have made payments to the debt collector, they do not have to honor the payments already made?

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Of course if you’ve made payments then those should go toward the balance owed. Is that what you are asking?

      • Michele L Knowles

        It gets confusing at best, but from what I can see, Sprint has put the same negative mark on my credit more than once. I see where 7 years have passed and it was removed, but maybe resold to another agency and put back on my report? Are they allowed to do that?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          A new agency can report it but not if it’s too old. Collection accounts may be reported for 7 years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor (Sprint). If the new agency is reporting it beyond that time frame, you’ll want to dispute it. Here are instructions: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If he was not properly notified of the lawsuit, that it may be possible to get the judgment vacated, but you’ll probably need the help of a consumer law attorney. We wrote about indirectly that in this article:How to Kill Zombie Judgments on Your Credit Report

      • Alicia

        Can a debt collector deny me of a letter saying that after my balance is paid in full they will take it off my credit report?

        • Credit Experts

          Alicia —
          Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The collection can stay on your credit report for seven years and 180 days after the original debt became delinquent. While you can ask a debt collector to remove it from your credit report, they are under no obligation to do so. In fact, the credit reporting agencies with whom they have contracts prohibit doing so. (Otherwise, collection accounts would be removed all the time and credit reports would not accurately reflect the consumer’s creditworthiness.) You can read more here: Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports.

          The good news here is that the passage of time reduces the impact of the collections account, and it eventually disappears.

          • Alicia

            Ok. I read on a website that you can dispute collections that have been closed that say “no missed payments” and one says “paid in full by voluntary repossession”. Is this true?

            • Credit Experts

              You can dispute anything, but that doesn’t mean the credit reporting agency will see things your way. Voluntary repossession is seen as an indication that you couldn’t make payments and thus surrendered the vehicle. That is was “paid in full” was a good thing, but the lender’s being made whole doesn’t affect your credit. But again, the thing that helps most is time — along with positive information, such as bills paid on time and relatively low balances on credit cards.

      • Credit Experts

        Brandon —
        The different expiration dates can be confusing. But the debt can be reported for seven years and 180 days after the original debt became delinquent. We wrote about it here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?.

      • Michael Bovee

        I cannot get to any illegal collection actions in your comment. They have made no collection efforts other than the credit reporting (based on what you shared), which is common.

        Can you offer more information and details?

        Ideally, you want to run your legal questions by an attorney. But not just someone you look up in your local phone book. Find an attorney who has a practice that focuses on debt collection violations.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yes but you could dispute the older account as a duplicate and it should be removed.

      • Michael Bovee

        Your concerns are valid in a general sense using a backward looking view of the collection industry nationally. But I see much less of what you describe in today’s debt collection practices. Mostly due to CFPB supervision of the larger collectors, and some state AG activity exposing the problem.

        Are you receiving mail or calls from a collection attorney with offices in your state?

      • Allison C.

        I acquired some medical bills in February 2014 due to a leg break and resulting surgery. We have since been paying each bill every month. We went in and spoke with their financial counselor and set up our bill. Our hospital bill is $105 per month and we have been paying $50 per month.The counselor knew at the time that was what we would be paying, but said she couldn’t adjust the bill to be any lower than it was, but to just pay it monthly. She also stated that after so many months, it would then transfer into their ‘in-house’ collections which does not report to credit score. I just received a phone call from their collection agency stating that because we haven’t been paying the ‘minimum amount’ they had turned it over to them. And this is NOT the ‘in-house’ collections. He stated that this agency reports to our credit. We have never established credit, but are need to do so in the next month or 2. Also, my husband works in an industry that monitors any debt collections. IF something shows up on him, his company can fire him for it. I plan on calling the hospital and talking with the head on the billing department again. How should I handle all this, and what should I do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Allison – I am so sorry to hear this. It’s a really tough situation and I don’t have a simple answer.

          First is this a non-profit or for-profit hospital? If it is a non-profit it may have responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act that it is not abiding by. We wrote more about that here: Can Obamacare Keep Debt Collectors Out of Hospitals?

          At the same time, most medical providers aren’t required to let you just pay what you can afford. If you couldn’t afford to come up with $105 a month that was required to keep it out of collections the billing clerk shouldn’t have misled you, but I don’t know if any laws were broken. You’d have to talk with an attorney to find out.

          You didn’t mention how much you owe – if this bill is very large then paying $50 a month may never lower the balance. Also did you review the detailed bill to make sure it was accurate and did you apply for financial assistance or try to negotiate it down?

          Finally, as far as your husband’s job is concerned, he may need to be upfront with them and explain the situation. More than 1 in 7 Americans are being pursued by debt collectors over medical bills so it is far from an uncommon scenario.

          Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of consumer protections when it comes to unaffordable medical bills. Every year they push many families into a financially terrible situation including bankruptcy.

      • Credit Experts

        First, we are sorry to hear that you’re struggling.

        Second, we are not lawyers, and can’t give you legal advice. Unfortunately, it’s a myth that as long as you’re paying something, however, since they have been accepting $25 a month for a year, you may have an “implied contract.” You can read more about that here: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe? And finally, we know of no reason they can’t call frequently. (You are dealing with the billing department, not a collection agency, right?)

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What type of debt is this? What state do you live in? It’s very likely that it is outside the statute of limitations and it probably shouldn’t be on your credit report either. What do you mean by a distortion form? Do you mean a dispute form? By law the collection agency must send written confirmation of the debt within 5 business days of contacting you by phone. Have they done that? This article should help: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

      • Michael Bovee

        What are your questions and/or concerns Lisa?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        You received a notice in the mail correct? Do you believe the debt and the amount of the debt is correct? Or are you disputing it? If the latter you have 30 days to do so using the information provided in the notice you received. You should send your dispute by certified mail. If you are just trying to pay it then have you thought about just sending a certified check by certified mail? Or is there another issue I am not aware of…?

        • Bruler

          Yes, I received a notice in the mail…The debt is correct and I am trying to see if there is a lower amount that I can pay in full and be done with it. The original creditor still owes me some work and i was wanting to see if they would lower the price if i did not ask them to come back again. The orginial creditor will not even return my voicemails or emails. I am still unable to get in touch with the collection agency even though i call them everyday and leave voicemails.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Then perhaps your best bet is to talk with the original creditor. I doubt they would be happy to hear that their debt collector isn’t doing his job for them!

      • Wendy

        In regards to the comments made about collections being removed from your report once paid, is that correct? Mine are reporting as paid, but still there…so $5000 & six months later my score is still below 500. Paying collections did nothing for my credit!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I’m sorry I’m not sure which, you’re referring to but collection accounts do not get removed from your credit report once you pay them. And under most currently used credit scoring models paid and unpaid collection accounts both hurt your credit equally. We wrote more about that here: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Why did the debt collector send your employer a fax? Do they have a judgment against you? Are they trying to garnish your wages?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not make any special exceptions for debts that are settled due to catastrophic events. So unless the lender is willing to agree not to report it (and you get that in writing), you should probably expect a negative impact to your credit.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Mike- The only way to fix this is either to pay the deficiency that you owe (or settle the debt) or talk with a consumer law attorney about whether it makes sense to file for bankruptcy to erase the balance. If you don’t, you may be sued for the debt and that could open you up to wage garnishment, having your bank account seized, etc.

      • Credit Experts

        Have you spoken with your car insurance company? Depending on your policy, you may indeed have gap insurance. Or do you mean that the insurance was not enough to repay your loan? If that is the case, you would still owe the money. Finally, is the bank calling you, or has the account gone to a collection agency? If it’s a collection agency, you can ask them not to call and they must stop.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It isn’t right but usually when you agree to these services you agree to be responsible if your insurance doesn’t pay. I am not sure where to direct you. Maybe one of our readers has a suggestion…?

      • Aimee Leigh Loftus

        My husband had a court judgment (hospital bill that became a wage garnishment) and the only thing we could do was go to the court with the statement from the hospital stating that the garnishment was paid in full / released (whatever that specific terminology is) and then present the court with this. They then did something on their end and we then received a release from the courthouse. I then sent a copy of this release to the reporting bureaus which allowed the judgment to updated/removed from his report. That garnishment/judgment was a big factor when we were looking to do a mortgage so it was necessary to get that cleaned up.

        The hospital couldn’t help in having the judgment taken off our report because they weren’t reporting it… the court was. So hence the leg work with the court house. Maybe if you haven’t sought an attorney as of present, you could contact the clerk of the court that the judgment was filed in and see how they can help you. If you live close, this is always best handled in person.

        • Karen

          FYI- whenever you pay off a judgement you always want to get a satisfaction of judgement. And actually prior to you paying the
          Judgement you want to get a letter in writing with the understanding that when x$ is received the judgement will be satisfied.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If there was no balance then it sounds like they shouldn’t. You have the right to dispute a collection account. Do that right away, in writing and send your letter certified mail. Once you do that, I would suggest you contact the hospital to find out why they turned over the balance to collections. But get your dispute filed as you have 30 days from when that first collection notice comes to dispute it.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        That’s simply not true, unfortunately. Medical bills do not drop off your credit when they are paid under most scoring models currently used.

      • Michael Bovee

        Who is the debt collector?
        How long ago was it that you last paid on this debt to anyone?

        Can you offer more details around the collector saying they would find out where you work, and the consequences of that, or anything else?

        • Taylor McDowell

          The collection agency is named McCarthy, Burgess, and Wolff. I have paid $336 on the debt so far, as the original balance was $2000. It was in September that I paid that amount but now they want to raise my payment to $385 and I can’t afford that now. She claimed she had spoken with my employer and I know this is a lie, as I don’t have one currently. Then she implied that I was lying and she threatened to pull my credit report, which I have no idea how that will help her. I am trying to pay what I owe but she is very rude and told me that by not making the full payment that my payment arrangement would be void. I mean at the end of the day, if I don’t have the money this week, I just don’t have it.

          • Michael Bovee

            It does boil down to whether or not you have the money to make any payment. But being light on cash does not give collectors license to mislead, or use deceptive tactics. And I am curious what a skilled consumer attorney would say about the lie(s) you were told.

            I would encourage you to find and experienced FDCPA violations attorney through, and call for a consult. Most attorneys you find there will offer a no cost initial consultation. And if they do see a collection violation worth pursuing, many also take your file and work it from start to finish without charging you a fee.

      • Jon

        I recently received a collection notice for an investment property I own. Turns out, they had changed the remittance address for the common charges. They supposedly sent a notification of the change by certified mail, which they have currently said “are going to send me”. Whether I rec’d or not, I guess my questions are:

        1) Do I have any rights about having to be notified? Although I’ve all ready communicated to the lawyer (yes, the agent is a law office) that I figured out what happened, their response simply was you’ve admitted it’s a debt, please remit payment, they have no more burden of proof.

        2) Their fee to collect is like 40% of the outstanding $1,400 balance. Seems excessive, almost loan-sharkish. Is that amount legal?

        Do I have any recourse in challenging these fees? At a bare minimum, I’d think I’d get at least one notice saying payments were not rec’d. Anyone ever hear of mail forwarding? I do have proof of uncashed checks that were remitted.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I don’t know, unfortunately. This is likely considered a business debt, not a consumer debt, and the amount they can charge – if regulated – is probably regulated by state law. You’ll have to check with someone locally. You could also try filing a complaint with your local bar association.

      • Credit Experts

        When did you pay the $350 settlement? Was that the “more than eight years ago”? And do you have records or a receipt? You have a couple of issues here. One is it shouldn’t be reported more than 7 years, 180 days after it first went late (assuming there has been no activity on the account). Second, depending on your state’s statute of limitations, it may no longer be collectable. So, yes, you may be able to dispute it.
        These resources may help:
        Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

        Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

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

        Good luck to you, and please let us know how things work out.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Debt collectors are only allowed to contact third parties to locate the debtor. Once they have found the debtor that contact must stop. That law only applies to third party collectors, however. If you suspect the loan company or collector is going too far, you can either talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Mike – We hear this kind of complaint all the time and it’s very frustrating. I am not aware of any federal law that specifically says the creditor must notify you before sending a bill to collections but there may be state laws and/or other consumer protection statutes that apply.

        I’d suggest you start a paper trail. Send a certified letter to the phone company asking for proof of this bill and noting you were never notified. Do the same with the collection agency.

        Get your free annual credit reports to see what is reported and start monitoring your credit scores for free in case it is reported. Then if it does show up on your credit, you will either need to talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or the agency that regulates the provider.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Maybe. Judgments can often accrue interest but that doesn’t mean they are calculating it correctly. I suggest you talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to find out, and to discuss your options. Judgments can last a very very long time. You may need to consider filing for bankruptcy if you can’t pay this.

      • Az

        We keep having a debt collector call and leave a recorded message, but not saying who its for or what its about. Problem is we have no credit problems and for all we know its some sort of Phishing scam. What should we do?

        • Credit Experts

          We wrote about scam calls here, 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls. Hopefully, one of the ideas there or in the comments that follow will work for you. You should also check your free annual credit reports to see whether there is a collections listed. What you should not do is pay someone if you are uncertain that you owe the money and that they own the debt.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Paula – So sorry to hear what you are going through. I can’t give you legal advice but my understanding is you can simply send the collection agency a certified letter letting them know he is in a nursing home with Alzheimers, has no assets and has only exempt income.

        My only concern is if they try to sue him and get a judgment, so in your letter let them know you have power of attorney and that you are asking them to cease contact. If they contact you again, it should only be if they decide to try to seek legal action and you can then seek legal help. Again, though I am not an attorney and you may want to seek legal advice.

      • alexis

        A collection agency called me for a debt and it was me that answered. And I was so upset that he told me who I owed before conforming who I was? Can I sue the company?.

        • Credit Experts

          We’re not lawyers, and we cannot give you legal advice. We can tell you that the collector should have confirmed your identity. You can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you can document the caller’s actions, it might be worth consulting a consumer-law attorney.

        • Wayne Breezee

          Nope. Nothing prevents them from telling the debtor who they owe, what to. Only can be sued if they give out that information to someone else

      • Jane

        I filed bankruptcy for unpaid credit cards after I divorced my husband. That was about 9 months ago. My parents gave me about $5600 over several months so I could buy food and clothes for my kids plus for some bills and necessities. When my new husband (who had been out of work for 9 months due to surgery) and I got our tax return I paid my parents back. My bankruptcy lawyer says that now my parents have to put that money in escrow until the bankruptcy is final. And, that there is a possibility that money may go to some creditors. My parents have a revocable trust also. I hope I really don’t have to take that money back from my parents for my bills. Please let me know your opinion and thank you.

        • Credit Experts

          We are not attorneys . . . The best person to ask about that would be your bankruptcy attorney.

      • eduardo

        I have a creditor that calls me up to 10 times a day everyday even sundays i need help plz can someone help me. Its a new account i fell behind on one oayment made adjustments with creditor but continue to get calls im really stressing i want to just jumo in front of a truck and be done with it literally

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Talk to your phone company about getting a call screening service. For a few bucks a month you can block numbers that you don’t want to receive calls from and just let through the ones that you do want to receive. Another alternative would be a Google voice number which does essentially the same thing. I know this is stressful but it shouldn’t cause you enough stress that you’re thinking of suicide.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          And another thought: keep a record of when they called and then file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        We wrote about this here: Can a Debt Collector Fax My Employer?

      • Kirsten

        I have had people claiming to be debt collectors that have violated almost every single one of these laws. What is my right now? Recently a “debt collector” called my grandparents telling them that I owed money from a bounced check (That I did not do) what should I do? The harassment is getting out of hand! I have changed my number 3 times!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If they are scammers – which sounds entirely feasible – it’s not easy. Here are some suggestions: 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls

          • Kirsten

            Another big question. What if a debt collector refuses to send a letter verification through the mail, and insist on doing it through email?

            • Credit Experts

              That’s not legal. The law requires them to send a validation letter, upon request, via postal mail.

      • Jenn

        My husband had a business credit card through the same bank we have our checking account. Times got hard and we fell behind on the credit card and closed the account but left the checking open. Today I received notification the account went into overdraft due to BOA taking 2 large payments out without us knowing that in advance. We had auto bills come through which were denied and we now incurred multiple over draft fees. When we called the bank we were told that my husband signed something 7 years ago when the cc account wS first open allowing them to take money from the account if we were late but they aren’t sending is proof of that, is this legal?

        • Credit Experts

          Jenn —
          The answer to your question can vary by the state you live in. And unfortunately, we’re not lawyers, nor are we familiar with the laws in all 50 states. You can find one at NACBA

          the National Association of Consumer Advocates website.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Do you have the name of the company? Have you tried to verify if they are legitimate? (Just because they give you contact information for a real collector that doesn’t mean that’s who they are. Anyone can pretend to be anyone on the phone.)

        Maybe you need to check out for yourself and your grandparents – if they are using robocalls.

      • Credit Experts

        It will get paid off. The 18% is the annual percentage rate being charged. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you owe $1,000. That means, that if you owe the money for a year (and make no payments), the balance would be $1,180 at the end of the year. That’s $1,000 plus 18% ($180). Now let’s say you make $2,000 per month. Fifteen percent of $2,000 is $300. So, in just four months, that would add up to $1,200 (four months times $300) — more than enough to pay the original debt. Hope that helps.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        OK – dying of curiosity. Who is this “legitimate” company that would make those kinds of threats? I suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and consider getting some kind of screening on your phone. may help if they are robo dialing. This article may be of interest: Debt Collectors Claimed to Be U.S. Marshals in $4.1M Scheme, FBI Alleges

      • Credit Experts

        Have you checked your credit? And do you know for sure the debt collector is legitimate? Here are some resources that may help:
        How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Reports
        The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
        Making Sense of Your Credit Score

        • Tom

          I sent for my free reports from all three agencies. I received one and the other two sent me notice that I had to pay them to receive a copy. I sent them back a letter stating I was asking for the free annual report and not heard from them yet. What can I do to get the reports? Pretty much let it go and its been almost a year and want to get there reports this time. Also would like to know if they are to report if bills are paid early like I use to see. Last few years, it hasn’t been showing early payoffs or payments ahead.

      • johncv66

        Does 1st party collections or the company i actually owe the money to, have these rules. or only 3rd party. is there any rules for 1st party?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Currently, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act only applies to third-party collection agencies. It does not apply to original creditors. However, some states, California in particular, have state laws that apply to creditors collecting their own debts.

      • Credit Experts

        Have you disputed this with the credit reporting agency? If it is a sham number, it’s likely a scammer, although it’s puzzling that it’s on your credit report. Here are some resources you may find useful:
        A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

        7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls

        Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

        • lockwoodjj

          I dunno. They call, for over a month now, but never stay on the line if I answer. I looked their number on the internet and nothing but people c/o the same thing so I dont answer now. I have never ever received anything in writing. But it showed on my credit report today as a collection. And, like I said, I havent done business with the company they say I owe for probably 10years, give or take a couple. Makes me mad, took me down from 760 to 710.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            There is no reason why a 10 year old collection should be on your credit, unless they have a court judgment. As referenced in the article above, even if the debt was legitimate it sounds like it is too old to be reported. I suggest you dispute it with all the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it. Let us know what happens.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If it’s just a collection account then you may not be notified. If it’s a judgment that’s another story. It is not, is it?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If it is too old, dispute it. You will find instructions here: How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If they are garnishing your wages then they have a judgment against you right? That gives them strong collection powers and judgments last a very long time in most states. I recommend you meet with a consumer law attorney. You may need help figuring out if what they charged you was legal, or you may need to consider filing bankruptcy. Otherwise it sounds like they will continue to add interest and it will never end.

      • couldbe563

        SSI recently contacted a Dr I was seeing but no longer am. but they want records anyway. Dr office not only refused medical records but they told case worker from SSI that they were refused because I have an unpaid balance that I didn’t even know I had with them. So my question is 2 part first can medical records be refused because of a debt and are they allowed to tell someone hey this person owes us money and isn’t paying?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I don’t know what the rules are in the particular situation regarding your SSI application. I do know that it’s not unusual for physicians to refuse to release records if there are debts owed to them. Additionally, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from discussing debts with third parties; however that law does not apply to a creditor collecting its own debt. So I’m afraid you’ll have to either check with your state attorney general’s office or consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you think this doctor has violated your rights.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        At that point if the original creditor is still trying to collect ask them to pull it back from collections so you can pay them (the original creditor) directly. If they do pull it back, the collection account will likely end up coming off your credit reports and if it doesn’t, you will be able to dispute it.

      • Teia

        Does the multiple call rule apply to phone messages or missed calls also? I have one debt collector that calls multiple times a day – sometimes leaves messages, sometimes does not. Some days they call every hour on the hour.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Yes it may. Keep a record of when those calls occur. In addition, there may be additional violations if they are using automated dialers to call you, or if they are calling your cell phone. You may want to either file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or talk with a consumer law attorney.

      • denise

        I got a call from an collection agency on a debt incurred over five years ago.the rep started asking for address before stating what the call was for.i asked her if she was a debt collector and she went into the normal collections routine.i asked her about an company who apparently got sued and the the results..all debts forgiven.she puts her manager on the phone who states that i was bad mouthing his client and how they where good to me, and i have the nerve to talk bad about them, and i was this and that.i told him not to disrespect me, i was old enough to be his mother, in which he stated oh well, when i pay the debt, he’ll respect me..i hung up.i had intensions to pay it but now…..

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Do you know if the statute of limitations has expired? If so you could simply write a letter asking them not to contact you again…Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yes, you may be able to. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find an attorney in your area.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I don’t know whether this is legal or not, but it sounds fishy. I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Will you let me know what they say?

      • Credit Experts

        Why do you say “supposedly”? Can you check to see whether the payment went through? If it did not, it’s possible you can contact the original creditor and have it pulled from collections. If that is not an option, our advice would be to pay the debt quickly and move on. Be sure to keep any other lines of credit paid on time and as agreed. You can expect your credit score to suffer, but with positive history, over time, the effect will diminish. We also encourage you to check your free credit scores and to make sure the information on your credit reports is accurate. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free. Sorry you’re going through this, and hopefully you will be able to put it behind you soon.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Look at your contract and try to find out what you can do to return the furniture. If you can’t figure it out on your own, contact your state attorney general’s office – which should have some kind of consumer protection office – to find out what your rights are.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The collector isn’t obligated to accept what you can afford, It’s hard to say what is going on here. Perhaps they are just trying to see how much they can get from you. You say it’s old – how old? – if it’s quite old they probably bought it very cheaply and anything they collect is profit, Perhaps you should tell them you are consulting a bankruptcy attorney – and then do so. If they know you are serious about filing they may realize they may not get anything at all.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Asking is quite different than doing. Don’t trust anything they say unless it is backed up in writing. (Credit reporting is voluntary so they can stop reporting an account if they choose.)

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It is not a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, because that only applies to third party collectors. But depending on what state you live in, it may be a violation of state law. (California in particular has the Rosenthal Act which applies to creditors collecting their own debts.) However, even if there is no law specifically against it, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into these practices so at least file a complaint there.

      • Carol

        Hello, I live currently in Louisiana, and opened a credit card with Target around March 2014. I used it sporadically, only when I go to Target that is not very often. Last time I went, November 2014, I was unable to use it, my card was canceled. When I called, they told me I did a purchase in June for $52 that was never paid. I never received any statement….nor that month, nor after. They said they sent them and that they had been calling with no answer. First, ALL the other credit cards, letters, etc arrive to my house perfectly fine; Second, they never left any message in voice-mail saying who they were (I don’t pick up when I don’t know the number). Now I apparently owe around $220 (still no statement), and they ruined my credit, that was more than 800 point, and now is 650… this legal? can I do ANYTHING?
        Many thanks for any help you can provide.

        • Michael Bovee

          If it were me, I would first try to escalate my concerns with all that took place by contacting upper management at Target.

          I may even consider filing a complaint about Target billing practices with the CFPB as a way to get the problem in front of the best set of eye balls at Target.

          Why did you wait a month before doing anything after the card was declined? Have you been contacted by an outside debt collector?

      • Credit Experts

        No, a collector cannot have you arrested or make such a threat. We suggest you submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Lindsey

        I received a letter from a collection agency last night claiming that I owed money to PayPal. Upon contacting PayPal, I learned the account was from 2006 (a time when I wasn’t using PayPal or eBay). At that time, my information had been stolen when the computers at my job had been hacked into. PayPal has stated that there’s nothing they can do now since the debt has been sold to this agency. Contacting the agency they said they don’t believe me and I owe the money still. What I don’t get is how they can come after me 9 years later?! This is the FIRST letter I have received about this so called debt. Is this legal? What can I do?

        • Credit Experts

          Lindsey —
          First, try to stay calm. If you are certain you do not owe the money, do not pay it. Do take a look at all three of your credit reports to see whether this debt (and/or collection agency) is on there. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. If you request it — and you should — a collector should send you what is called a “validation of the debt” via postal mail within five business days. A legitimate collector will comply with that request.
          Here are some posts that may be useful to you:
          Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?
          9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

      • Osman Ozgan

        Even I paid off a collection agency still they keep on my credit report unpaid. I called them i sent them proof documents but still on my credit unpaid ! what else I can do ?

      • Credit Experts

        It can sometimes be difficult to be sure who owns the debt, and you are smart to check. We addressed how to find out who owns the debt in this post:
        How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Very unusual and it could be illegal depending on the details. Did the bank give you a copy of the credit report they used? Have you ordered your
        free annual credit reports from all three bureaus? I’d recommend you do the latter and then dispute these in writing. If they aren’t corrected or removed let us know.

        Please read: How Do I Dispute an Error in My Credit Report?

      • guest

        I changed my title loan due date from the 3rd of the month to the 10th of the month, which was approved by lender. But for some reason they always call around the 3 of the month stating my payment is past due and they will be imposing another late fee. I spoke with the manager and was told all late fees will be removed and I should not receive anymore calls. What can I do to demand they stop calling before the due date

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler
      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am not familiar with consumer protection laws in Australia so you may want to check with someone locally.

      • I AM HE

        @Maddie – provide the proof of the written agreement to your loan officer indicating the creditor will update the accounts to a ZERO balance. Very often within the mortgage process, credit supplements are commonly ordered by loan officers and loan processors to update the information on your credit report. This includes wrong information, duplicates, or information that hasn’t been updated (like paid off accounts).

      • Sam

        I have a question….I got a loan from a little personal loan place in the amount of 1200 I have monthly payments of 142.00, I had a medical issue in April of 2014 and was unable to work I was on medical leave without pay. With no income things became really bad almost lost my home etc….I am now back to work full time and finally getting caught up on all my bills. The ladies from the loan place keep coming to my job and home, they call me at least 2 to 3 times a day. What can I do to get this situation under control until I can start chipping away at this loan

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Have you tried talking with a new payment arrangement? That’s really your only option.

          As far as the calls go is it the loan company calling you or is it a debt collector? If it’s a debt collector you can tell them not to call you at work. (A few states, like California, have laws that apply to creditors and not just third party collectors.)

      • ares

        My friend is being charged by a collection company the money he owed to a private school. The school didnt have his full name or social security number. Can they still collect from him?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is not necessary for them to have his Social Security number to try to collect.

      • Dave

        I just received a call today about an outstanding advertising bill from my business, which closed in 2013. My questions is, would they even be able to come after me since my business is an LLC and is closed down? I am not trying to get out of paying anything, but they are trying to charge for me advertising in 2014, when I was not even open. Trying to gain SOME leverage here.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Maybe not. It probably depends on whether you signed a personal guarantee or whether they could pierce the corporate veil. so to speak. But you may need to consult an attorney to find out for sure.

      • Diane

        I got a bill collector 3 and 4 times back to back and text me and blows my cell phone all day long ! I am filing bankruptcy on feb 3 . How do I stop her for so many calls on one day

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Do you know the name of this collection agency? If not, answer the calls long enough to find out. (They have to tell you.) You can send them a certified letter telling them to stop calling your cell phone. If they don’t, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or get an attorney involved.

          Or you may want to skip those steps and just contact a consumer law attorney for help.

          This article may be of interest:

          New Ruling: Debt Collectors Could Be Fined $1,500 Every Time They Call

      • pollypocket

        .About a year ago I took out a loan with lending club, after defaulting on 2 payments I called to pay and they informed me that my debt had been sold to a collection agency and I was going to have to deal with them. After 3 months of no phone call and no written letter I again called lending club. They then informed me that the collection agency could not get a hold of me so they gave the debt back to lending club… (ummm?? Never heard of a sold debt being sold back to the lender) after lending club rerecieved my original debt I was still unaware where my debt was as they made no effort to contact me. Meanwhile I applied for a home loan and lending club had continued to mark my payments delinquent for the full 5 months. How is this possible, especially if they claim they didnt even have the debt at the time they were marking it delinquent? Should I have reason to think it is a scam and they never actually debt like they claimed? They are also saying I can no longer make payments on the debt, that it has to be paid in full… what are my options? I feel like this situation is not right and i would like to take action if possible…

        • Gerri Detweiler

          You could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Terry

        How can my wife defend herself from a Judgement Summary?

      • g

        I have an account that I can’t afford to let go to collections…. Is it true that they can’t send to an collection agency as long as I pay something on the bill?

        • Credit Experts

          g —
          It’s not true, but a lot of people think (or wish) it is. (And there are some circumstances where you may have an “implied contract.” We wrote about it here:
          Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

      • Renee McCrory

        I received a bill today (2/3/2015) from 11/2006! Am I obligated to pay this bill this late after the fact? Eight years is ridiculous!

      • vsain

        I have been making monthly payments toward a debt to a debt collector called JC Christensen & Associates, money order payments of $25. I’ve been doing this since about September 2010, most recent money order sent was 1/27/15. In all I have contributed well over $1500. The original debt was for over $1700. My credit report reflects that an entry from this debt collector was may on 12/26/14 for $1307. This means they have not honored none of my efforts toward the debt. I have saved all money order receipts proving my efforts. What can I do to dispute their claims?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is not uncommon for debt collectors to fail to update credit reports until the balance is paid. However, at the same time you have the right to dispute an incorrect credit report. You may want to go ahead and dispute that item on your credit report and see what happens. (So glad you’ve kept proof of your payments!) Read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Shanese

        Someone made a purchase on my dell financial account and they had proof that I didn’t do it. They never notified me about my delinquency and I never received a bill and I don’t know who the collection agency is with this account and they report negative information to the credit bureau. What do I do

        • Credit Experts

          Who is the “they”? Here’s how to find the collection agency: How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is. If you know someone used your account without your knowledge or consent, you can file a police report.

      • Sanford Goldstein

        what was once called a “bill of particulars”is now called in legal term a “Motion for a more definate statement”.

        I other words a Collector cannot just call and say this is your SS number, this is your name, and this is the last action that was processed for this acount…be it a payment or a charge etc.

        (some collections can put a 99cent charge on a closed account they own just to keep it open…Highly illegal by the way.

        Once they inform you that this is a collection you may request the above Motion. meaning since they have initiated this contact that they are the ones responsible to answer to you. you dont have to tell them a thing

        What was the last action on the account, Where did this action occurr, who did this action. was it done in person, internet (id fraud) by check cash etc etc. they need to supply you with the chain of events including your Signiture on a copy of the original promissary or credit card etc

        you will have a person who works for a collection official name they are called the Custodian of records . and they will send you some credit document with the word SAMPLE on it but no signiture or proof that it is a promissary that you signed.. basically they dont know anything about you and they dont have the ability to get the information yuor request thereby prejudicing the debt they are trying to get form you. I tried to backtrack my debt and all the comanies I called with the acct number told me they have NO record…so If the OWNER of the said debt cant get the info how can they.

        So you have a chance to at least have them work for a debt they paid 5 cents on the dollar for. your collections have probably been sold in a lot with other debts to a company. YOU are not entitled to PAY anymore to them no matter what they paid or with interest. more than the original debt owed.

        Some states have a Statute of Limitations for collections..No matter how onl;d the debt is or how many times its been bought…it is only active in collections for so many years after the acct is closed by the original holder or creditor.

        IE.. I had a Sears Debt my wife occured while i was stationed in the Gulf War. 1991. In 2007 I had Northsite contact me with a 1900.00 collections ( bill was originally about 967.00) they bought it from some other company and told me that the debt is active as long as it is an open account in collections. thats wrong

        In AZ its 6 years from the date the original holder closed it SEARS…so that debt was in effect invalid since 1997. I brought this to there attention. I was told that some one put a 1.26 dollar payment towards it in 2006 since they had it,., Sorry sport why would anyone make a 1.26 payment towards 1900 debt and 16 yrs old debt at that– what a joke.

        I contacted the atty gen office and complained about fraud

        so two items to use in your plan of attack if ok in your statutes of your state. I am NOT a lawyer and I give this as my own opinion and judgement. what Ive done to releive the debt stress I had may not work for you.

        Motion for a more definate answer….Usually as a responce answer when a collection agencies “lawyer” send you a letter ( yes you have to file your ANswer to that letter at a court house and I would suggest send a certified/registered copy to the lawyer address directly

        Statute of Limitation on the debt ( you need to research what the AR is in your state

      • Holly

        I had an apartment in 2013 with a friend. We each paid half the rent. The lease was from january to january. The management changed and the new manager said the computer system crashed and they had no recors of us paying rent from april on. They notified us in october. Being a first time renter i stupidly didnt keep my money order reciepts to prove and we were evicted early december since we couldnt. Its been over a year and i personally have never been contacted by the aapartments, although my friend has. Suddenly theres a $12000 dollar collections debt on my credit report and ive NEVER been notified of anything. What can i do here?

        • Gerri Detweiler


          That’s a lot of money and it doesn’t sound like you have proof that you don’t owe the debt. Do you know any other residents of the building who were told the same thing? That might help bolster your case that the mistake was the management’s fault. But either way, I’d urge you to talk with a consumer law attorney. This is a large enough debt that it could affect your ability to get other loans, and you are at risk of being sued. If you are having trouble finding an attorney I suggest you use the search function on the websites of the National Association of Consumer Advocates or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

      • leslie

        A collection agency has contacted me about a past due rent I owe but is wanting me to pay with my credit card number over the phone. Is this safe? Also have not received a letter of my account bills.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Anytime a debt collection agency contacts you, you have the right to request written verification of the debt. I would recommend you ask them to put it in writing before you pay them. I would not give them a credit card number without something specific in writing.

      • Alex

        I have a truck loan, I went into the dealer to pay off my loan which was around $6000. To my surprise they said I owe them over $4000 in late fees. I sent in a payment on the 4-5th of each month, and they told me because it did not get there by the 8th(which I highly doubt) I have accumulated 4k in late fees over the past 2 years. They have never contacted me nor did they send a letter informing me of the fees. I paid my loan on a monthly basis thinking everything is ok. What do I do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Alex –

          I would suggest you file a complaint with the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Let us know if they are able to help you resolve it.

      • Disguntled former employee

        Idk if this is the correct forum to use for my question but can a former employer who happens to be a dept collection agency take on a collection of a former employees debt????

        • Credit Experts

          We are not aware of a federal law addressing that. There may be company policies or state laws that do, however. You could submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or check with your state attorney general’s office if you believe you are being mistreated.

      • Tony

        You do not owe a debt collector any money ever. They are buying a debt that has been settled. Do not ever pay a debt collector. Your defense unjust enrichment. Validate the debt. Which mean they have to provide the ORIGINAL not a copy of the ORIGINAL agreement between you and the lender. Ask to see how much a debt collector paid for the debt. In most cases it is 2-4 cents on the dollar. yes if you owed 10,000$ they paid 200-400$ for it. You can if you wish settle with them for that amount. We are the only people in the world to supena and have Bank of America state they have been paid for the debt and sell their debt. A debt that is sold is paid in full. they have also been paid through selling it on Wall Street through securitization and they have an insurance policy to boot. plus they have written the debt off. Debt collector are operating outside of the law and DO NOT tolerate it.

      • Mike

        Just an awareness for your viewers. In January of this year I applied for a home equity loan only to run into problems, I have excellent credit however I discovered a couple of liens had been placed on my property in 2011 and 2012, a debt I did not owe. Had it not been for my council woman helping me to get it removed, I would be still fighting this. Please be aware that this could happen to anyone and a nightmare to get rid of. Check your credit regularly and inform yourself of the proper way to handle this problem. Not easy because everybody wants to third party it.

        • Credit Experts

          Thank you for that reminder. We agree; checking your credit regularly can save you much grief later.

      • Nancy

        I have been getting calls from a company called second round about an debt they claim I owe and I know nothing about it. I told them that I am not talking to them because the statues of limitations has run out. And they keep asking for my social security number and I said I will not give it to them. They sent me a letter that clearly states the statuesof limitations on this debt has clearly ran out and that if I send one payment they can sue me for the outstanding balance and also the original company can also sue me for what is left. According to them I took this loan out in 2003. So I am not paying them anything. they have already called me three times already and I have told them not to call me anymore.

      • Deee

        my husband died in 206 2 days before christmas i think it was the first year i got a notice from citi bank that he owed sears money for sideing he put on my house , my name was not on his charge card , i do not know how much he owed, but for about7 years now i have been paying 113.00 a month on this to a collection agency, all i have to live on is my social security. i can not even afford eye glasses right now i know my bill started out at 14,000 .00 i got it paid to 3,000 . i wrote citi bank a letter asking what the amount was and they told me they arent handling that debt now can i be made for my husband debt ?

      • Mandi

        I got a car loan in 2006. I refinanced a couple times and then my car got repo-ed. It has been negatively impacting my score for almost 10 years. I have tried disputing it with the credit bureaus, but every time I do, they just reopen the account and send it off to another collection agency. I am trying to buy a house and have paid off all of my other debt. When will this account ever fall off my report? Do they have the right to transfer it again and again? Also, when I just checked my credit report, they just sent it to another collection agency as of January 2015…the original debt is 9 years old. Please help me!!!!

        • Credit Experts

          The debt should fall off your credit report 7.5 years after it first went late (assuming no other activity on the account). If you think it’s being wrongly reported, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus. Selling it to a different collection agency should not reset the clock. If that’s what’s happening, you can also submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Michael Bovee

        You do not have to give them access to your checking account.

        Did you call the doctors office yourself?

        How much is this debt for?
        What is the monthly amount you can afford to pay right now?
        How soon do you think it will be before you can increase that?

      • Sara

        I’ve recently had a “debt collector” email me threatening to file an arrest warrant against me…is this legal? Should I be concerned?

      • Michael Bovee

        If you are making payments to them now, you may not be able to work directly with billing department for the service provider. I would still try calling and explaining the situation.

        I am concerned that you made a verbal agreement with them to pay the $25 a month, have not missed a payment, but they are still calling. You may want to talk to them and find out why.

        • Bens

          Michael, my mistake, I made three payments. I did talk to someone and he told me since the payment was received after the due date that we reneged on our agreement. It also bothers me that they just cashed another payment and they are not deducting the balance off of the total of bill, yet they have not sent another bill. They are really giving me a hard time, I hate to think what they do to people who do not pay their bill. This is very embarrassing and humiliating we should have not been put into collections in the first place.

          • Michael Bovee

            At this point I would encourage you to file a debt collection complaint with the CFPB. They care about the aggregation of debt collection complaints, and are very aware of medical billing issues.

            I do not know how much the debt collector will care about the CFPB contacting them, but how they respond to your complaint will give you a clue. Please share the results of that by updating this comment thread.

      • Credit Experts

        Tim —
        The debt can be reported for seven years and 180 days, but it should not have been reported as new again. Here’s a post that addresses the problem:
        Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

      • Jean

        I too lived through the 2007 nightmare due to some personal issues with my husband. I have had excellent credit for over 40 years until this time period. I have 2 “old” credit card debts that are past the statute of limitations. One of the creditors send me a monthly letter acknowledging that they cannot sue me now but are willing to settle my debt for 10% of the original amount, which is approximately $800 and some odd dollars. My question is, if I decide to settle this account, even though it is an old debt, will it make any difference in helping to improve my credit report standing or should I just let it ride out until it has reached past the 7 years that it can be reported?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Settling it won’t help your credit scores if that’s what you are asking. This article may be helpful: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?. If it doesn’t let us know.

      • thomas ray

        hello, in 2011, I went to court over medical bills. the collection agency had combined bills from both my Wife and I together. the amount of judgement came to about 1900 dollars. this included interest and attorney fees. I agreed to pay 40 dollars a month until it extingusished. the collection agency still send me a bill every month, and the outstanding amount is more than the original judgement. they refuse to talk to me, so I sent a certified letter explaining everything to them. I asked them for paperwork and so far , they have ignored me. the 40 dollars comes directly out of my checking account each month. I have paid 49 payments to them. they ignore my wishes to subtract the amount I have paid to this point.

      • Roxy Chavez

        Ok I have a debt collection question… due to situations out of my control I can not afford my payments. I make less than my rent, bills, car cost, ect. They are calling me and my references nonstop which I understand but like I said it’s beyond my control. So what I finally did was send a money order for under $10.00 it’s all I had and I figured at least it was something. Showing that I was taking responsibility and that I’m not just blowing them off. Well they just called me to tell me that it was unacceptable and is getting sent back. Can they do this? What are the options if any for someone who just isn’t making enough.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is generally not a good idea to send a collector a token payment to try to “get them off your back.” It can backfire by extending the statute of limitations.

          You mention that they keep calling you and your references. Once a debt collector has located, calls to others must stop. You may want to get a free consultation with a consumer law attorney. Their actions may be illegal. Visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help locating one.

          • Roxy Chavez

            Thank you for the reply. I wasn’t really worried about limitations I want to pay it off just can’t afford the payments they want. They said the amount I gave was insufficient they want the full amount. I figured something was better than nothing but I guess I was wrong.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Yes, unfortunately, they aren’t required to accept what you can afford to pay.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Call this organization right away. They provide advice for Texas residents: Texas Consumer Complaint Center

      • Janna Nikkola

        I’m just now ending a 9-month billing dispute with a provider of land line phones and high speed internet service. The advertised and quoted price was $54.95/month and my first bill was $194 and they claimed I owed $611 for 3.5 mos of service. I refused to pay until I received a corrected stmt. They turned the acct over to collection for $611 when the balance was negotiated down to the correct amount of $295 which I will pay. But the collection acct will stay on my credit history for 7 yrs even after it’s paid and has already lowered by credit score. Is it legal to turn disputed accts over to collection agencies and to ruin my credit over a legitimate billing dispute involving false advertising and material misrepresentations over the actual cost of service?

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • Janna Nikkola

        I neglected to mention I worked with the Public Utilities Commission to help me interface with this phone/internet service provider who was able to negotiate the total billing down to the correct amount and they were successful in getting this provider to delete all billings for services not ordered and to correct billings for services where the actual cost was higher than advertised and quoted.



      • Gerri Detweiler

        Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are typically allowed to discuss debts with the debtor’s current spouse, but you can check with a consumer law attorney in your state to find out if your state has greater restrictions.

      • CParker

        If my debt originated in California but I moved to Idaho which state do I use for the Statute of Limitations? Open Accounts are 4 years for both states but for Written Contracts California is 4 years and Idaho is 5 years. Just not sure which one I should go by for that one. Thank you.

        • Credit Experts

          That is a good question — and the answer is not always the same (courts have had to decide). You can learn more here: 7 Things You Need to Know About the Statutes of Limitation for Debt

          • CParker

            Thank you for the quick reply. It will be 5 years in June for the SOL in Idaho to take effect so I will wait until then since my bases would be covered in both states.
            Once the SOL passes, if I understand the articles right, I can send out letters to collectors that contact me for me old debt and explain that the SOL has passed and I am no longer liable for the debt, correct?

            • Credit Experts

              Not necessarily. Here’s a post that has advice on what you should do if contacted about a debt that is beyond the statute of limitations. Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

              • CParker

                Thank for the link to that article, I had not looked that one over yet. I appreciate all the helpful articles and advice and have no doubt they will come in use the next time I am contacted 🙂

              • Credit Experts

                You are most welcome.

      • Suzan Easter

        I just received collection notice for a debt I thought was paid two years ago for hospital. I have received no bills or phone calls regarding this from the creditor sonce 2013 either. Do I have any rights?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          First, if you can dig up any evidence that you paid it that would be the ideal solution. If you can’t, you might want to try to find out if you can get them to pull it back from collections (the provider) so you can pay them directly. We wrote about that here: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      • Kevin T. Moran

        Wondering what, if any, requirements there are for a company issuing statements – how many times do they have to issue a statement, call you, email you, before they can send you to collections? We have been taken to collections – however, we never once saw a statement – they sent them to an outdated address, they claimed to have called but never once left a message and had our email addresses but failed to contact us that way as well. Now we are riddled with fees and most importantly a hit against my wife’s credit. Please advise – thank you.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          What kind of company/bill are you talking about?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Do you know what this bill is for? Did you fall behind on it? If it went unpaid they don’t necessarily have to notify you specifically before they turn it over to collections. If there’s some kind of other underlying dispute then you may be able to get them to pull it back from collections so you can pay them directly.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Andre – I emailed you directly. Can you check to see if you received it?

      • Nichole J Kennedy

        I have been getting my wages garnished for a judgement through a debt collection agency. Once they were already garnishing they sent a letter demanding over 500X the amount they were awarded. Then I got a letter from the court stating that I satisfied the garnishment and the judgement was complete (after multiple attempts to get over payment resolved) and then 6 days later their attorney sent me a letter saying I owed additional money for the exact same account over twice the original amount. Is this legal?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          You need to talk with a consumer law attorney. You should be able to get a free consultation at least to get a sense of whether what they are demanding is legal. We’ve written more about judgments here: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      • Kathryn Chennaa

        I have a question. I had a auto loan through a bank and my truck was totaled out by my insurance company……my insurance company paid their payout and then when i called the bank to find out what was still owed i paid it and received a letter from the bank that the loan was paid in full……and yet they put it on my credit as a bad debt and profit loss…….they never sent me a letter stating what i owed after my insurance paid their portion……and it wasnt even a month after them getting the payout from the insurance company that i pay ot off……what do you think i should do?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I would recommend you start by disputing the item on your credit reports. If it’s not removed file a complaint to with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit reporting–you may have a case for credit damage.

      • Alin

        I want to know if a person is filed for a debt collector and this person doesn’t have way to paid, the partner has to paid this debt

        • Credit Experts

          If the partner co-signed for the debt or is married to the debtor and living in a community property state, that would be true. In other cases (and that is the vast majority), it is not the partner’s responsibility.

      • tom94566

        Getting calls. When I answer, there is a ring tone. They ask my name. I said, first, tell me if this is an attempt to collect on a debt. They refuse. They tell me that I must confirm my identity. Say that I am under no obligation to confirm or deny that. Tell them to stop calling M-F during regular business hours as this is an interruption of my work day. I asked for the company name, address, and contact information. They refused to tell me.


        • Gerri Detweiler

          If they won’t provide you with any information it’s going to be hard to stop the calls. You’ll either just have to start hanging up when you hear that ring and hope that eventually it stops. Or you can try or a call screening service like Google Voice.

      • jose marrero

        Hello I have a question. i went to a dental office to have a root canal done. Before we started the procedure i asked how much my out of pocket expenses would be.They told me that it was covered 100% by my insurance so there was nothing for me to pay for the procedure to be done. So i had my root canal done and a few months later i get a bill for $250. I called the dental office and all i got was that they made a mistake and that i owe this amount. I disputed the case and refuse to pay the $250 that they are seeking so they sent it to a collection agency at some law office place. I dont want to pay for this bill it was not my mistake if they would of said the amount needed at the time i could of add it on my flex spending account but now my funds are gone i live paycheck to paycheck and cant aford to pay that amount right now. Can anyone give me some advice as to how to dispute this with the collection agency.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unfortunately in most cases when you see a medical or dental professional you agree to pay the bill if your insurance does not. You can dispute the bill with the collector stating you don’t believe you owe it, but they may still try to collect it.

      • Schmidtwho

        I apologize in advance for the length, but it seems like the debt collector is trying to screw us over, here’s what’s happened so far…

        My wife has a judgement against her, it was brought to our attention that the agency was seeking legal means as of the end of 2014. We received the proper documentation stating that if we intended to dispute the debt that we needed to do so within 30 days, we didn’t want to lie by disputing so we requested the account information for the original account. We just got the requested information last month, conveniently after judgement was done. Skip ahead to 3 weeks ago- we received a letter from the law firm with a form to fill out to assess our assets. At the bottom of the form it read ” if you cannot afford to pay the full amount in full, please fill in below the amount of money and frequency you will be able to make payments.” 9 days ago we got a letter accepting our payment arrangements, pending a signed agreement from my wife be returned within 10 days. I sent the letter 3 days ago and today we received a letter from another law firm stating that they are taking over the debt and that if we needed to make payment arrangements we needed to call them, otherwise full payment was expected. There was also a court document to back it up.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It is not unusual for judgments to be sold, just as collection account may be sold. We’ve written more about judgments in these articles: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?and Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report.

          • Schmidtwho

            And I get that, but we were just coming to an agreement for payment arrangements.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              I agree that it is incredibly frustrating to have to start over again! But I am not sure what other options there are…

      • Brittnee

        I was wondering how to go about disputing medical bills that had already been paid off of my credit report. Some of which were before I was 18 and to my knowledge weren’t supposed to be added to my credit report anyways, but they were and I paid them. However, my credit score was pulled for a mortgage and it’s still showing the collections and it’s negatively impacting my score by over 60 points which is well over what I need for said mortgage at a good rate let alone not being approved. I just don’t know where to begin. Any ideas?

        • Credit Experts

          Credit report disputes work the same regardless of what sort of bill it was. In the case of bills incurred when you were a minor, you can send a copy of your birth certificate. However, those collections should remain no longer than 7.5 years after the original bill went late. Their impact fades with time even before they drop off your report. Here’s how to dispute a credit report error — and also a warning about doing it while trying to get a mortgage.
          A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

          How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You from Buying a Home

      • Diane

        Can a collection agency demand more of a monthly payment out of me than I am paying right now. I am paying 25.00 a month and after 3 months she says I have to start paying 105.00 a month is this legal?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          We are not aware of any federal law that explicitly prohibits this, but it’s possible you may have an implied contract with the collection agency as we explained in this article: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

          You might try filing a complaint with the CFPB if they won’t work with you.

      • Tonya Carvajal

        How is it legal for a company to buy “bad” debt that has already been charged off by the original debtor, years later, and then filing a lawsuit against you. There should be protection for consumers against that, there are a tremendous amount of people who have had hard times, and its not right that they can continue to harass people for years, for debt that is way older 7 years, and keep refreshing it on your credit report to look like new debt.

      • yasmine martinez

        My boyfriend has a motorcycle loan with capital one. When he moved he changed his address and banking information with them or so he thought. In april we went to get a home loan and his credit report showed the account had not been paid since september. He checked with the bank the payments were not being pulled. He never got any notices or calls. His old add was his parents home, they never received anything. Finally got through to capital one. They said all they know is they sold the loan in march and they tried to repo from his parents once in feb…no notice was left on the door. We contact the 3rd party collector and they dont have the account in their system. They said it will be 3-6 months before they can view the account. Meanwhile the money sits and no one will take payment or see wtf happened. If he would have got a call or letter he would have fixed it. How can holding someones account in limbo be legal?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I can understand how, when you move, things can get overlooked, but unfortunately I would also assume that he was responsible for paying the bill–or at least alerting the issuer when statements didn’t arrive. (With credit cards, for example, not receiving a bill can be a billing error but the consumer is still responsible for asserting a billing error within 60 days.) He can try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or your state attorney general’s office, but it may be a matter of waiting until the debt can be taken care of through the collector.

      • Des

        I recently had a bill collector call me for a bill they said was from 1998. They said it was a phone bill but I dont remember having the company they said I had at that time. Its not a company that is really used in the state i live in. when i asked what address the service was provided for they say I have to put a request in writting because they cant give me that information. The name they gave me wouldnt of been correct at the time -they gave my married name but i was not married until a year later. I just dont know if this is actually my debt do i have to pay it? As far as I can tell I dont think its on my credit report but im not for sure

      • Katherine Elizabeth

        When i was married my husband got a student loan for trucking school….he stopped paying it 12/2011 when we separated. Fast forward to 7 months ago and he started paying the debt again, they removed it altogether from his credit report. They also have it reported jointly and told me more then once i am responsible because we were married when the loan was opened…i live in michigan not a community property state. They also have removed it from my credit and put it back on my credit with no notice given to me at all. As of 3/2015 they have changed the loan to closed…yet are still reporting 120 days late for april and may. Can they report as still being late after it is a closed account? Can they also leave the debt on my credit but not the ex-husbands? They have also not reported a single payment my ex-husband made in the past 7 months to my credit report.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Katherine –

          Did you ever cosign it? Either way, I would suggest in this case you talk with an attorney who handles credit reporting cases. It sounds like there are some possible violations here. You should be able to get a free consultation. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help finding an attorney. If you decide not to go that route for some reason you could try filing a complaint with the CFPB.

          Let us know what happens OK?

      • TrickleUpPolitics

        No, the report from the hospital stays until you contact the hospital and ask them to remove it. They can refuse to, so you send them a letter asking for a goodwill deletion. Google for examples of these letters. I have found them to work with some businesses/agencies.

      • TrickleUpPolitics

        File a complaint with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. You can do it online yourself. You’ll be amazed how fast that comes off your report.

      • Kat

        NYS has this statute – however, the collection companies sell the debt over and over. The statute is from the original date of turn over I believe.

      • Gerri Detweiler


        A collection agency isn’t required to accept what you can afford to pay. If you are worried about your paycheck being garnished, leaving you unable to pay bills, I would recommend you talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

      • Gerri Detweiler
      • Deborah Fugate-Kania

        It is my understanding that a late payment record put on your credit report can stay there for as long as 7 years. It’s up to you to request it’s removal after that time as creditors usually don’t keep track. I had 2 long long paid off accounts showing up on my credit report. Once the credit bureau verified my information about the length of their paid off status they removed them. From my experience no collection agency is going to be ‘nice’ and remove it early. Unless you negotiate it into your agreement with them along with your payment.

      • Betsy

        Hello. I am concerned. I am upset with this situation I was in about GEgap Credit card that Midland Credit Management has been calling me many time. I dislike it at all. I finally catch a person from Midland after I tried to call after I suspect it was all scam. So The person has informed me that GeGap was changing a new company and said I still owe them after 4 years that I already made debt settlement and they closed the account. It upsets me more because what if that person is just playing games with me. Why is it has been 4 years later then they came back to hunt me down? The credit was already in the report. I don’t get it. I already settled for debt settlement and hold the papers in case for 3 years later then I shredded all the papers that I don’t need. I am so grateful that I have no debts to owe. Now it haunted me back. what can I do? The midland credit management want me to write a letter that I disagree. How can I do that if I don’t have paper to prove? helpless!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          This is a very difficult situation. The first thing you need to research is the statute of limitations to try to determine whether this debt is too old. If it is and they try to sue you then you can raise that as a defense.

          It’s a shame those papers were shredded. I usually recommend consumers keep them indefinitely. Did you work with a settlement company to resolve that debt? If so, do they have the documentation?

      • Rosella

        Hi: I have a son who just received a request to start a payment again hearing from the attorneys who are out of state. I was made aware that an attorney cannot force him to make payments for this debt that has passed the time of Statute of Limitations in Colorado and he is in another state now for about 5-5 years . The company he works for just contacted him with an order from the courts for the continuation of this old credit card debt. This debt went into default and still they pursue this . Now, is it true that for an attorney to do this , he must have a license to practice in the state my son now resides in different from CO.

      • Katie

        How long does a business (let’s say a independently owned gym) have to collect a debt? I used the word debt loosely. I was a member of this gym in 2007. The gym owners at the time decided to sell. We received letters asking us if we wanted to stay with this small gym or cancel our membership. I canceled mine. I spoke to an owner, then called the corporate number they gave me at the time. I was assured the account was canceled. The automatic draft from my bank account ceased. I never heard another word. Now fast forward to April of this year, 2015 and I get a letter from a collections agency stating I owe this gym $600 from my leftover membership. I ONLY kept this records 5 years, so I no longer have my contract or the information I wrote when I canceled it. I have not changed my bank account, my phone number or my address SINCE that time. I never heard anything from them. I made a complaint with the BBB and the business responded, rudely that I owed the money and when they bought the business they had a collector come in and assess all the accounts and send everyone to collections. Supposedly in 2008? So now I receive this letter. I pay my debts, I pay what I owe but I DO NOT FEEL I OWE THIS. So they are going to contest til they are blue in the face that I did not cancel my membership – which I know I did. So I just want to look into coming into it from another angle and seeing how long they have to collect a debt. NEVER work with independent franchise owners EVER!!!!! Thanks

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It does sound like it could well be outside the statute of limitations. (At least that would be the case in most states.) You always have the right to dispute a collection account. You are supposed to do this within thirty days of the collection notice you received. Send your letter certified mail. Explain that you don’t believe you owe the debt and that you believe it is time-barred (if you do). You can either request validation of the debt or you can instruct them to stop contacting you. More info on statute of limitations here: 7 Things You Need to Know About the Statutes of Limitation for Debt

          And be sure to get your
          free annual credit reports to make sure it’s not on there.

      • SWDar

        My husband and I have a car through a high risk
        lender. They’ve told us that they can call us during anytime because they’re
        not a debt collector but a finance company. They’ve also told us that they can
        call us even if our payment is only a day late. They’ve recently come to our
        apartment and gained access to our secured building where they took pictures of
        our mail box and knocked on our door. My eleven year old siblings were there and were scared to death! They took pictures of our building and
        asked neighbors about us. Is this legal?

        • Credit Experts

          It is true that the strongest protections are with regard to debt collectors. However, getting access to a secured building and taking photographs without permission seems questionable at best. We suggest checking with your local police or sheriff’s department.

      • Dee

        I was called on my husbands work cell phone from a colection person on a debt I’ve tried to pay off and they won’t agree to the weekly payments . and what am I to do about them calling my husbands work call and discussing this with him. I told them go ahead and sue me they also mentioned my ssn# but I got so upset that they are still wanting this money and I’ve tried to pay them but they want it all at once or notthing. Please point me in the right direction to get this done with

        • Gerri Detweiler

          First you can instruct a collector to stop contacting you on your husband’s cell. Best to do it in writing via certified mail. And you can tell them to stop contacting you altogether if you want, but that does leave them with no option but to sue if they want to try to collect. Whether they will or not is another matter.

          Collection agencies aren’t required to accept a payment plan you can afford but many will negotiate if it means getting something rather than nothing. Perhaps this article will help: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

          One caution: If you owe a very large debt and the payment you propose would barely make a dent in it, then you may be better off not paying it, as small payments will simply extend the time period they legally have to collect. Read:
          Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

      • Melody Walls

        I paid a detention fee to Juvenile Court for a charge my son had and he was found innocent in 2006 I received a letter from Juvenile Court on June 20 2015 saying I owe 347.00 dollars for detention fee how is that?

        • Credit Experts

          We don’t know. Have you inquired?

      • King Robert

        Can a creditor start making numerous calls on the day a debt is due and before the 15 day grace period runs out?

        If so when does it become harassment?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Creditors are not covered by the FDCPA. A few states like California have laws that apply to creditors. You may want to contact your state attorney general’s office, the CFPB or a consumer law attorney for more information.

      • zobva

        Don’t get too high on your horse, bud. One of these days you might find yourself in a situation with devastating loss and illness and find yourself in a position to need medical care that you can’t afford. When you “have” and despise those that “have not” karma has a way of biting you in the ass.

      • Patty

        I recently was hit by a third party collection agency that told me he was collecting on an old account I still had a balance due on a credit card with. This guy kept calling me two or three times a week. And I kept asking him for the details of the Credit Card only because I could not remember and he finally said United Credit LLC and it was for somewhere around $5500.00 I almost fell off my chair. I haven’t owed that kind of money to a credit card in over 15 years. So I just yessed him to death and told him I would start paying $20.00 a month if I could afford it But I would get back to him. Never put anything in writing. Next thing I know, my checking account is empty. Two days later, I got a letter from People’s Bank telling me they were served with a some kind of Execution by a Marshall and they had court papers to relinquish my checking account. And there were papers for me to sign if I felt I had any reasons for them not to take the money out of the account and send it back to the court. Well, yeah…and so did People’s Bank. They had a copy of my Divorce Decree on file, stating my child support is in there and my Worker’s Comp check. And I am disabled and currently do not work. Yet they still allowed the money to be taken out. I was never served any legal papers by the Resolute Credit LLC. (the third party) I checked my credit report and sure enough there it was, they had already gone to court saying I missed 2 payments of $20.00 and they were suing me for the entire amount of what was claimed on the original amount owed to Unite Credit, LLC which was Never owed to them to begin with because the original amount was owed to Citibank, NA in the amount of $6,571.34 from 2001 and was refinanced into my 2nd mortgage in 2005 which is why it never showed up on my credit report. So, I’d really like to know what my rights are against this third party as well as the one who sold off a credit that was never charged off. It was refinanced. And now I have a Civil judgement against me on my credit report and I’m in a foreclosure and looking for a place to live.

        • Michael Bovee

          Contact an experienced consumer debt collection defense attorney who also has FDCPA violations experience. Your options to unwind any of this, and to get any exempt funds that were levied from your bank account returned to you, is going to be through the court.

          What city and state are you in?

      • Jah

        I’m a year late seeing this article but I do have a question for Gerri Detweiler. I live in Texas and have medical bills (3) in a collection agency. I did not pay on the debt and accept the fact that it’s been reported to the Credit Bureau. I always intend to pay it but am a Man of small financial means right now and can only pay my bills to live, eat and everyday life.

        And this bill been on my credit report for a while but not yet pass 7 years and I don’t know what’s gonna happen when the 7 years comes by if the Collection Agency will sue me or what. I don’t know.

        Anyway, as I stated, I understand it’s been reported to the Credit Bureau and I accept that and never made a single payment on the hospital bill. So, my credit score was trashed. And just about a year ago, I decided I wanted to improve my credit score to get a new truck (which I got with improved credit).

        I took advice from my Banker to take out several small loans when I didn’t need it and make timely re-payments as a well to help boost my score again. I did that on 3 or 4 separate loans among with the highest for $1,500 and I paid all of them back on time and never missed a single payment.

        My score rose into the mid 600s mark. And was closing in on the 700 mark. And this was over a span of several months and just short of a year’s time.

        Then one day I check my credit report on a free credit reporting site. And I saw my credit score crashed into the low 500s mark. I found the collection agency information through the credit site I’m a member with. It shows who reported my credit but the thing is, it is a Law Firm that’s has a credit collection agency department. I never heard anything like that.

        So, when they reported the first time, my score cashed. My thinking, however, was that…if it is already reported, why re-record it again?? So, I just nip it in the bud and kept improving my credit score again. I went back to my bank to take out another loan and pay it back on time about 2 times again. And my credit score rose again like the first time.

        And the same “Rinse and Repeat” scheme with that “one” Collection Agency ruined my score again. It seems like they was personally watching my credit score to rise again and what they do, they pull my credit report which give my score a temporary high boost. And after a month, they report it right back again and send my score crashing. And they keep Rinsing and Repeating that practice to keep my scores crashing.

        I feel that’s unethical but I have debt. My thinking is, if it reported once, why report again and again and again? So, the motives are clear that they are intentionally crashing my scores for the he of it….like its fun and games with them.

        And it’s not multiple collection agencies. It’s the SAME collection agency doing this over and over and over again. A Rinse and Repeat scheme to intentionally crashes one’s credit score.

        There has to be laws against that. And I want to sue and seek punitive damage. Can you tell me if I’ll have case or if the collection agency/law firm violated my rights by their unethical behavior?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Since you are in Texas, you have a terrific free resource available to you–the Texas Consumer Complaint Center. I’d suggest you talk with them to see whether this collection agency may be breaking the law.

      • Cheryl

        I moved phone carriers in August of last year, They told me that they would pay the remaining balance on my account. I thought it was taken care of and hadn’t heard anything back from anyone, No bill from previous carrier, so I thought all was good. So now I am getting bill collectors calling me a few times a day @ 8AM! So i called the current service carrier, well as it goes the current carrier “should” have had me sign a form of the notice of change (Never given one). So instead of them contacting me of the change they just put me into collections. The collection agency also didn’t send me a formal letter outlining the reasons for the 500.00 charge that they will gladly accept in 2 payments. They are rude and annoying constantly calling me. Any suggestions?

        • Credit Experts

          Cheryl —
          Check your contracts. If you have something in writing saying that the new carrier will pay the balance on your old account, you may have some leverage to get the new carrier to pay if it agreed to do so. Not receiving a bill, alas, isn’t the same as not owing it. You can read more here:
          Help! I Never Got a Bill & Now My Credit Is Damaged

      • jemina24

        I asked for a debt to be verified in writing and they keep emailing or texting me. Are they allowed to do this, I specifically asked for it to be printed out and mailed to me and they have not complied so far.

      • Gary Kimble

        What happens if the original creditor refuses to take your payment?

        • Credit Experts

          Gary —
          Do you mean if you are paying less than the creditor billed you for? They can refuse to accept it, or they can send it to a collection agency. You can read more here:
          Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

          But if you mean that you want to pay the original creditor after the debt has been sold to a collector, then that debt (now sold) no longer belongs to the original creditor.

      • Lisa Swinson

        What would you do if you had a verbal agreement to pay a bill and you had been paying on said bill at the rate that was agreed upon and you were still getting excessive collection calls, sometimes as many as 3 per day? Does the person have any legal recourse?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I would say it’s definitely worth either consulting a consumer law attorney or filing a complaint with the CFPB. It doesn’t seem reasonable to call you three times a day when you are making payments. The attorney can help you evaluate the situation and if they believe the collector is breaking the law they should be able to help you at no out of pocket cost to you. If you are need help finding an attorney I suggest you use the search function on the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

          Or you could file a complaint with the CFPB.

      • Lily

        I need help. I’ve been contacted by an actual creditor not a debt collector and she has been calling my job. She called about 3 weeks ago and I told her not to call my job. Today she calls again and leave me a message stating she has called me numerous times and left me numerous messages, which is a lie. On the message she also talks about why she was calling and the debt. I was standing next to my coworker and the creditor calls again (about 10 minutes after she left me a message). I knew it was her because we have caller id and I recognized the number. The creditor proceeded to ask my coworker for my job address because she was a client of mine and wanted to come to the job so my coworker asked the creditor for her account number when the creditor told my coworker that she was not going to give her that info because she was actually calling me for a legal matter. My coworker told the creditor that I was in a meeting and she can leave me a message. The creditor tells my coworker that she already left me a message and she doesn’t want to leave another message but she really needs to talk to me because have not been making payments on my vehicle and the last payment I mad was more than 1 year ago (another lie) but how is she allowed to tell someone my business??? Is any of this illegal and what can I do. Oh and did I mention our calls are recorded at my job so I can pull the call up. Please help!!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          This would be illegal if it were a debt collector but that law does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. However, there may be state laws that apply. I’d suggest you at least talk with a consumer protection attorney to find out. (Go to the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help finding one.) If they attorney can’t help then file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which may regulate this lender and is looking into whether FDCPA protections should be extended to these types of debts.

          • Lily

            I just can’t believe they can just tell 3rd party when was the last time I made a payment and without my consent. I wouldn’t be as mad if it was my husband but a co-worker is ridiculous. Thank you for the advice.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Do let us know what the attorney and/or CFPB says.

      • Jaime

        My husband had a medical procedure back in April 2014. We got the first bill several months later which i began sending in monthly payments to. Never missed a month of sending in money. Now we checked our credit report and they reported it as a collection item even though it has been paid off and no collection agency has contacted us at all. They reported the item in June and we had paid it off in May. We did file a dispute with the credit agency but is this even allowed?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It’s hard to say what is going on. Hopefully the dispute will resolve it but keep good records of all your efforts in case it doesn’t. If it isn’t removed you’ll need to look into steps five and six in this story: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Sam Songer

        Can a sanitary board issue a lien on our property because of my grandmothers previous unpaid bill? Note:our property was hers that we received after she pasted away, they didn’t send any official notification and the bill is over a year old, and we contacted them to notify the property was no longer in my mawmaws name(my mother is the owner) however they proceeded to put a lien on our property for her bill.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Sam – Our condolences for your loss.

          I have a lot more questions than answers. Did her estate go through probate? Was the home part of the estate? Are you keeping it or is it being sold? You said you notified them–when? And did you ask to keep the service on at that time? Where is this home located and what is the name of this sanitary board?

          I can’t guarantee I’ll have all the answers you are seeking but more information will be helpful.

      • Hailey

        I have a utility debt from when I lived with my family. I regret letting my mother use me for the utilities. At first the bill was about $600. I had told them I was unemployed, so they told me to call them when I was employed. A month pass but and I called. I just got employed and told them, then they tell me the debt is $900 so we set a payment plan. I was employed for a one day training then let go because I didn’t have certain certifications for the job. I call them tell them I’m unemployed again and they tell me to call back later for more information. I call later, the office is closed, I call a couple days later I get put on hold and transferred through different reps. So I figured I’d looked for a job in the mean time. A month passes no job (I don’t know why no one would hire me) then I get a call from Edwin Perry and Express Recovery. The rep tells me I now owe over $1000. I tell her I’ve been unemployed and looking for employment. I had just been kicked out of my home, and she tells me they want the whole bill paid in full. I ask if I can’t make another payment plan since I had heard some hood news about a job but she tells me to call back to see if the court(?) Has made a decision on what they’re going to do next. I don’t know what to do. Can anyone help?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I understand this is stressful for you but if you can’t pay, you can’t pay. You can explain to the collection agency that you are unemployed and that you simply can’t make payments. They could try to sue you but it seems like that would be a poor move on their part since you aren’t employed so there is no way for them to collect even if they get a judgment.

      • Tracy Gaddie Hardin

        Does this also go for personal loans with an individual?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? No. Not unless that individual hires a debt collector to collect.

          • Tracy Gaddie Hardin

            So she can call and email me at work as much as she wants and continue to send me text messages every hour? And there is nothing I can do to stop this from happening….

            • Gerri Detweiler

              It’s possible there are state laws that apply but unfortunately I don’t know what they would be. You might want to talk with your state attorney general’s office.

            • JustJenna

              That possibly violating some sort of stalking law. Change and unlist your phone numbers, change your email, and tell her she is not welcome on your property. She can still take you too small claims court but their are ways to make her leave you alone.

      • JustJenna

        Are creditors allowed to report your debt as paid late, if you were only nine days late on the payment?

      • JustJenna

        Back in 1995, I had a creditor call me at my high school. They told the guidance office it was a private family matter. I was 18, a senior. Was this even legal? I remember being furious and so terrified on my way to the office that someone in my family was sick or had died.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act doesn’t cover creditors collecting their own debts, so it would depend on state laws at the time. But it definitely sounds like it was inappropriate to say the least. If it happened today I would have suggested filing a complaint with the CFPB.

      • Reggie

        Hi. An item showed up on my Credit Report as a Pending Judgment for $746 from December 2009. The Attorney of Record referred me to a Collections Agency who said the debt was $9000 based on an Eviction from an apartment. The pending judgment represents an Unlawful Detainer which is locked/confidential from 12/2009. I cannot find any other records or law suits against me. The Court refers me to the Attorney of Record who refers me to the Collections agency. Shouldn’t a law suit have been filed? Isn’t there a time limit and monetary limit on what can be filed against me? Shouldn’t their amounts be reflected somewhere? The amounts are in error and I have receipts of payments for rent until my move-out. No eviction occurred and I was on month-to-month lease the last 6 months of my stay. How should I resolve this matter without an Attorney or should I seek an Attorney?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          What state do you live in? Did this occur in that state?

      • Robbieg

        I got a call from a local collection agency that they have set a court date for me for a hospital billl debt. They said that I have the option to get served at work or go to their office. I asked for more details regarding the hospital bill – what date and procedure but she said she can show me when I go in. I haven’t received any written notice, can they send me to court without a written notice and giving me the chance to dispute it first? I may owe the bi but o want to make sure first that it indeed is a bill I missed before paying. What should I do when I go to the collectors office?

        • Credit Experts

          They can’t set a court date. A court would do that. They would have to file a lawsuit. They also cannot serve you. Have you not received a written notice of the collection? Federal law requires that, and it also requires that they send you (by postal mail) a “validation of the debt” if you request it (and you should). If you believe this agency is breaking laws, please submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        You’re probably right.

      • JB

        I apologize for length I want to be thorough.

        Someone called my stepson and left a message saying they were from “Attorney Networks” and they were trying to reach me because I was involved in a judgement.
        The next day they called my house with the same message.
        My wife called the number they left.
        Person explained he was from “Attorney Networks” and that they had
        “acquired” a debt from XY (a quick loan company we felt forced to use in
        2014). My wife explained we attempted to work with XY when I lost my
        job in March but XY did not respond except to say they would pull the
        payment amt due in May. Nothing was pulled in May and XY never
        responded back to us when I wrote and requested an update on the amount
        owed. He said it didn’t matter what agreements we had with XY. It
        had gone to pre-legal at a company that had purchased the debt and we
        needed to pay the full amount immediately. My wife asked for
        a letter to be sent to our address. He said they couldn’t do that,
        email was the only way they communicated. She asked if payments were
        possible, he kept stating the full debt amount. When my wife kept asking for a letter, he said it could be emailed but they never send mail. She said she needed verification of debt by mail not email. He then put her on
        hold. Second man was forceful and rude. Talked over top of my wife
        every time she tried to speak. Loudly stating we owed we needed to pay
        and that it could be sent email and nothing else. When she insisted we
        needed it sent to us in writing, he stated that my wife was being
        uncooperative and that if she didn’t cooperate they would send it
        directly to legal. When my wife said, “I was told this was a legal
        matter already.” He, over the top of her talking, said they had already
        sent a letter by mail on July 17th. She told him we received
        nothing from Attorney Networks and tried to ask, when both he & the
        other man stated they don’t send mail how was something already sent.
        He interrupted her and said he would send a copy of the letter sent on
        July 17th by email. She again requested he send it by mail so we had a record.
        He told her it was not their problem if we got it or not. If I didn’t agree to
        payment, he would mark our account uncollectable and they would start
        legal action. She told him we just wanted the information sent so we
        had a copy. He kept interrupting her loudly stating she was being
        uncooperative. She asked again to send the information by mail and he
        talked over the top of her, yelling at this point, stating it was email or nothing.
        She hung up. Less than a minute later a letter showed up by email. The
        name on the letter does NOT match the name they gave me. The date does NOT match the date they stated they sent the letter.

        My questions:
        1. I sent them a letter to the company on the email stating I want them to
        stop calling me, emailing me or any of my family. I provided my
        address, which they already had, and stated I wanted all correspondence
        to be done in that manner. I live in Idaho and this company is in New
        York. Is this enough to force them to provide paperwork and quit
        calling my home and family?

        2. How does it work if they try to sue? I plan on suggesting payments but I know they are not required to accept. If they are in New York, am I bound by New York collection laws or Idaho? The original company, that they bought the debt from, was in Illinois. If it is in NY, how am I supposed to show up? I can’t
        afford to pay off the full amount, I had to take a job paying less than I
        made before and I have a special needs son. We have zero extra money.

        Is the way they treated my wife illegal? If so, what do we do? We
        can’t afford a lawyer and, in Idaho, legal aid doesn’t deal with

        • Credit Experts

          JB —
          The first thing you need to do is to establish that this is a legitimate collector and that they own the debt. There are some rogue collectors that are not legitimate, and you don’t want to pay them. A legitimate collector should have agreed to “validate the debt” via postal mail. Federal law requires that. The treatment your wife received should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Here’s how to submit a complaint.)
          The answers to your questions are: 1.) Yes, assuming it is a legitimate agency. 2) Collection laws are federal. If they tried to sue, you would receive notification; how this happens (in person or by mail) can vary by jurisdiction. If a collector tells you someone is on the way to your home or office (and can be stopped with an immediate payment), it is almost certainly a scam. 3) From what you describe, it certainly sounds that way.

          Before you do ANYTHING, be sure you are dealing with someone legitimate. Here are a couple of resources to help:
          The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
          9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

          • JB

            Thank you for your reply. If I may, I have a couple additional questions.

            1. How do I find out if they actually own the debt? I can’t ask them, won’t they just lie if they don’t? They told my wife several times they “acquired” or “bought” the loan.
            2. Idaho Finance law states
            “Under the Idaho Collection Agency Act (ICAA), the following activities cannot be conducted in Idaho without obtaining a collection agency permit:
            –Operating as a collection agency, debt counselor, credit counselor, credit repair business or debt buyer,
            –Engaging, either directly or indirectly, in the business of collecting or receiving payment for others of any account or bill,
            Soliciting or advertising for the right to collect or receive payment for another of any account or bill,
            –Selling or distributing any system of collection letters in which the name of any
            person other than the creditor to whom the debt is owed appears,
            –Engaging in the business of credit counseling, or
            –Engaging in the business of credit repair.”
            Then they have a searchable list of all current licenses. NEITHER name these people gave my wife are on that list.
            What do we do? Do we have to deal with them if they are NOT on that list?

            Thank you so much for any further help you can give. We’ve had to deal with one other third-party collection agency for another reason several years ago but they were quite helpful, verified everything by mail and quit calling when we asked. Even the XY, the loan company that originally had this debt, was great…to start with. Then, once we got into trouble when my husband lost his job, suddenly they quit communicating with us. This new agency was rude and just horrible. It has left us unsure how to proceed and your response(s) are helping a lot.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              What you described this debt collector saying and doing is of concern. The type of loan you described – an online payday loan right? – is often associated with debt collection scammers.

              If you ask the debt collector not to contact you again they cannot contact you except to notify you that they are taking legal action against you. If they sue you they must sue you either where you signed the contract or where you live now.

              Document everything this collector has said and if you think it’s crossing the line talk to a consumer law attorney who regularly represents consumers in debt collection cases. If they think you have a case they can represent you at no out of pocket cost to you, because a collector who violates the law will have to pay their attorney’s fees.

              Do be careful. Again, these types of loan very frequently end up in the hands of scammers.

      • Barbara Mauck

        My daughter just called to say that a debt collector just called her cell phone while she was driving and said that she needed to start paying $100 a month on her medical bill from the birth of her baby and other complications. She has paid $10 a month from the beginning. She only owes $500 now. They also said that the OBGYN said that she would no longer be accepted as a patient. My daughter and son-law have been dedicated to paying all of their debtors something every month which totaled over $10,000 on what insurance didn’t pay. She is also dedicated to keeping a high credit score which she has so this is devastating to her. What are your suggestions and her rights?

      • Macc Mosley

        So if I ask them to only contact me by mail they have to grant that

      • Pete Herard

        I had a debt collector , from a debt about 6 yrs ago , that I have never been notified off , call my parents house ( where I don’t live ) and tell my dad if I didn’t call back in 3 hrs I would be in contempt of court . They didn’t tell who they were .

      • Andrew Owens

        First party Bill collectors can contact you up to 8 times per day regarding a debt. Some are merciful and as a company policy may not try to reach their daily limit. (2-3 calls daily as opposed to the full 8). Also, if you politely identify yourself and make clear of inconvenient times, a request to cease contact or an intent to file bankrupt the collector should be able to cooperate. 2 out of every three cases where consumers are still being contacted after a request comes from someone not having identified themselves. Until you do identify yourself, even in cases where contact has been initiated by the creditor instead of you, you are considered a 3rd party and simply saying “don’t call me” and hanging up doesn’t help you at all. The collector can’t honor the request as they don’t know who they are speaking to.

      • disqus_3BrONUAJno

        Can a collection agency collect a debt that the insurance company said they would pay if the hospital billed them correctly, but the hospital refuses to correct their billing?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If the hospital is a participating provider in your insurance network then they have a contract with the hospital that requires them to adhere to certain standards for billing them.

          Anytime you get a collection notice for a debt you don’t believe you owe you can dispute it. Write to the collection agency within 30 days (certified mail is best) and state that you don’t believe you owe the debt–and why.

          Then you need to talk with your insurance company to find out what needs to happen to get them to bill properly. You may have to be a squeaky wheel here. You may find some ideas here:
          The Ultimate Guide to Solving Your Medical Bill Problems

          • disqus_3BrONUAJno

            Since my credit rating means nothing to me, it was easier to just tell the hospital and the insurance company that the former wouldn’t be getting a penny from me. The smudge on my credit report came and went, pretty much unnoticed and certainly uncared about.

      • Heather Milks

        I received a notice of legal action from a debt that I was unaware even existed. I went to the hearing in civil court and the judge ordered in my favor that the debt was not collectable and beyond statute of limitations. This was in January 2014. The collection agency did not appeal. I recently received a notification from the collection agency attempting to collect the debt! Is that even legal? I received a judgment in my favor over a year ago!

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It shouldn’t be sold again but it does happen. You can send them a certified letter explaining what happen and telling them not to contact you again, and they must stop. You may want to also file a complaint with the CFPB and name both agencies. The agency that sued you shouldn’t be selling it to another one (if that’s what happened.)

          • Heather Milks

            The debt was not sold. The same debt collection agency is contacting me again.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              Oh really? Was the first case dismissed with or without prejudice?

              • Heather Milks

                No. The court ruled in favor of the defendant (me) and sited several state rules about statutes of limitations and ruled that it is uncollectable. The collection agency did not appeal like the judge told me they may do. Now, 19 months post judgement they have sent me collection notices again for the same debt with the same collection account number.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                I would suggest you talk with a consumer protection attorney. Their actions may be illegal, and if they are, the collection agency would have to pay your attorney’s fees and you may be entitled to statutory damages. If you had an attorney represent you the first time, talk with him or her. If you were pro se, you can find one from the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

              • Heather Milks

                Thank you! I surely WILL do this! I bought a car in 25014 & my interest rate was so high but I just went with it because I know my sci is low. Also I just applied to a new apartment complex and the security deposit was tripped because of “severely delinquent accounts” which happened at the same time I got the most recent letter from the collection agency. I looked and they are still reporting it!

              • Credit Experts

                Please keep us posted on what happens.

      • Louise

        Is it legal for a credit agency to not accept a payment that you can afford?? I am trying to fix my credit and I am paying 25$ a month each on these accounts totaling 50$ I am disabled and on a fixed income. I told them that I could afford another 25$ per month which adds up to 75& a month. They told me the would not accept 25$ that I had to pay 50$ or they were going to report it to the credit bureaus. Can they refuse my payment like that when I am willing to pay what I can afford?? It maybe untrue but I heard if they refuse a payment that the debt will be totally removed. Is this true? Can they refuse my terms??

        • Gerri Detweiler

          They do not have to accept what you can afford but it’s disconcerting that they are threatening to report if you don’t pay the amount you can afford. While the federal credit reporting and debt collection laws don’t specifically address that, it’s possible it could be considered illegal. You may want to start with a complaint to the CFPB or talk with a consumer law attorney.

          • Louise

            It’s not like I am brushing them off and not wanting to pay my debt. I just can’t afford another 50$ per month or I will not have enough money to eat on. I don’t get any aide from the state or the government. I live on 1000$ a month and just barely have enough to survive each month. What is the CFPB and can they tell me if rejecting a payment plan like this is illegal?? Where do I go and what should I tell them. Thank you for the information.

            • Kali Geldis

              Hi Louise —

              The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — they’re the consumer watchdog agency in the U.S. and they may be able to get your complaint answered/ fixed by the credit agency. Here’s the link where you can start your complaint:

            • Gerri Detweiler

              I understand completely what you are saying and it’s a shame that they won’t work with you. Federal law doesn’t require them to accept what you can afford to pay. But the fact that they are saying they will only report if you fail to pay them a certain amount is not a typical collection agency practice. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency. You’ll find them at They just took action against two large collection agencies for allegedly deceptive practices. You can file a complaint online.

      • Justin

        I just contacted the collection agency that i owe money to. They said that the only way i could start a payment plan was to pay 50% up front… is this true? or am i being lied to… is their a rule that i don’t know about when it comes to collections?

        • Michael Bovee

          Debt collectors do not always accept long term payment plans, or approve the monthly payment amount we can afford.

          Who is the debt collector you are dealing with?
          What type of debt was it that you originally owed?
          When was it that you last made a payment on the account (or received a service)?
          What amount can you afford to pay monthly?
          If settling for a lesser amount that than the full balance, what amount of money can you raise in a short period of time?

      • Alesha

        What do you do if you were never contacted but sent straight to collections

      • DanGordy

        The verification of a bill is a joke. Especially when it comes to medical bills. All the medical facility does is send the collection agency the same bill they sent you…. and then the collection agent sends you that bill marked “verified.” Somehow that magically makes the bill “verified.” It may not be correct, but it’s “verified.”

        We have court supported mediation services to take care of small claims such as landlord-tenant, contractors, etc. in our district. I have used this service in the past in an attempt to get the bill collector into mediation. Usually they will not accept the “challenge” and start to wonder if the bill really isn’t legit and are wasting a lot of time and money pursuing.

        Oh! Sometimes one single bill will go through several collection agents. Remember to dispute each new agent if you do not owe the bill.

        (Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. My submission is purely from personal experience with bill collectors over many decades.)

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