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From the Experts at

Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights

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Debt Collection Rights

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Whether you are falling a bit behind on your payments — or a bank or lender thinks you are — you may be receiving calls from a debt collector. No fun, right?

Well, there are things you can do to make sure you are more in control of what happens when you are on the receiving end of those calls. But before we go over them, let’s take a look at what a debt collector is and how certain laws may come into play.

What Is a Debt Collector or Collection Agency?

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, passed by Congress to protect consumers like you, a debt collection is a person or company that regularly collects debts owed to others, typically when those debts are past due. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau points out, debt collectors include collection agencies or lawyers who do this as part of their business. Other companies may buy past-due debts and try to collect on them; they’re also referred to as debt collection companies or debt buyers.

What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed by Congress in 1977 to protect consumers by making some debt collection activities illegal. Some of those practices and activities which are illegal are described below, but before we get to those, let’s go over the definitions we’ll be using.

Understanding Debt Collection Terms

If you owe money or use a credit card, you are a consumer. Consumer also means your spouse, parent or guardian (if you are a minor), executor or administrator.

If you owe a debt, you owe money to a creditor for anything that you owe for personal, not business or commercial purposes.

If you ever fall behind in paying your creditor you may be contacted by a collector. A collector might be an individual, an attorney or a company, who ordinarily receives a payment from your creditor for collecting on your overdue payments. A third party collector collects debts owed to someone else — your creditor.

Can Collectors Contact You?

Yes. Collectors may contact you in person, by telephone, fax, mail, email or text. Collectors may not contact you at unusual times — specifically, they can’t call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. unless you specify it’s OK to do so.

In general, they may not contact you if you tell them you have an attorney and your attorney is handling your debt(s) for you.

Pro Tip: It is a good idea to keep track of all of the communication between you and the collector including their name, the date of the communication and what you discussed.

Can Collectors Contact My Family, Friends or Employer?

A collector may not contact anyone else you’re connected to in order to discuss the debt, unless you have an attorney and then the collector should be dealing with them. However, collectors may contact other people to find out where you live, work and what your phone number is.

A collector may not:

  • Contact another person, including your employer, more than once — unless that person tells the collector it is okay to call again
  • Tell anyone they contact that they are from a debt collection business
  • Send a postcard or any type of document to anyone associated with you with any information or marks on the envelope that may communicate that the collector’s purpose is to collect a debt
  • Contact your employer or co-workers for personal information about you.
  • Contact you at work, if you request they don’t because your employer does not want you to receive those kinds of calls at work

It’s important to note that telling a collector “don’t call,” will not make the debt go away — it only prevents the collector from contacting you.

Can You Stop a Debt Collector From Contacting You?

Yes, but only if you write them a letter telling them to stop contacting you. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you about the debt again, unless they’re doing so to tell you that the collector or creditor is going to take a specific action to resolve the debt. For example, the creditor may decide to sue you to recover the debt, in which case they’re allowed to contact you again to give you this update.

Remember, sending a letter to the collector asking them not to contact you will not make the debt go away.

What If You Have an Attorney?

If you have an attorney helping settle your debt, tell the collector the name of your attorney. If you prefer your attorney handle the situation, you can tell the collector not to contact you again and only speak with your attorney. The collector is not legally allowed to contact you again after that, unless your attorney gives the collector permission to contact you.

What Should a Debt Collector Tell You About the Debt?

The collector has five days after the first contact with you to:

  • Notify you in writing that you owe the creditor money
  • Notify you of your right to dispute the debt

The written notice must include:

  • Amount of the debt
  • Name of the creditor
  • Your right to dispute all or part of the debt, in writing, within 30 days of you receiving the notice

Note: The 30-day time frame starts running on the day you receive the notice, not the date of the letter or the postmark.

What if You Think You Don’t Owe Money to the Creditor?

If you think you don’t owe the creditor money, you must send the collector a letter stating that you believe you do not owe the money to the creditor. You must send this letter to the collector within 30 days of the date you receive the written notification of the debt.

You may tell the collector not to contact you until you receive proof of the debt. If you decide to do this, you must do it in writing.

Once you dispute the debt in writing, the collector must stop trying to collect money from you until you receive written proof that you really owe the debt from the collector. Proof should include a written document with your name, the name of the creditor and the amount you owe.

Note: Disputing the debt will not make it go away. The 30-day period is not a grace period — it is just an investigation period for the creditor to find proof that you do or don’t owe the debt.

What if the Amount Is Incorrect?

If you don’t think the amount of money the collector is trying to collect from you is not the correct amount, you must send the collector a letter stating you do not agree that you owe the amount of money they are asking you to pay. You must send this letter to the collector within 30 days of the date you receive the written notification of the debt.

If you negotiated with the creditor on partial payments, and then they ask for more, you may be frustrated — and rightfully so. However, the collector is allowed to demand larger installments in an accelerated time frame. Although this may be frustrating to you, it is not a violation of the law. The collector is allowed to negotiate its own terms, but the collector may not make any false statements or use misleading ways to collect a debt from you. So, if you suggest a partial payment knowing the creditor will accept a partial payment, the collector is not allowed to tell you “only full payment is acceptable.”

In general, collectors may not add interest, fees, expenses or charges of any kind to the original debt. However a collector may charge an additional amount if:

  • The creditor included a condition for the fees or expenses in its agreement with you when you incurred the debt
  • If it is allowed in the state where the contract was created
  • If it is allowed in the state where a judgment was entered

What if You Owe Multiple Debts?

If you owe more than one debt and you make a payment to a collector, the collector must follow your instructions as to which debt the money should be applied to — it cannot apply it to any other debt.


What Happens During the 30-Day Dispute Period?

The 30-day dispute period is not a grace period. Until you dispute any or all of the debt in writing, within 30 days of receiving the notice of debt, (which, as we mentioned earlier, is not based on the postmark or the date of the letter) the collector can continue to try to collect the debt from you.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to dispute the debt, it’s a good idea to do so immediately. A collector may report the debt to a Consumer Reporting Agency, or send you notice of the debt the same time it sends you a summons to appear in court. If you receive a summons to appear in court after you disputed the debt in writing, you’ll still want to go to court. When you do, make sure you bring a copy of the letter you sent the collector disputing the debt. You can tell the judge the collector did not send you proof of the debt.

Other Restrictions on Debt Collectors

Collectors are required to tell you who they are, who they are collecting for ( name of the creditor) and the amount of the debt.

They may not:

  • Use a false name
  • Give you false contact information
  • Tell you owe more than you really do
  • Tell you they work for a credit reporting agency
  • Say you are guilty of a crime
  • Threaten to sue you if they don’t intend to sue you, or don’t expect the creditor to sue you
  • Tell you they are an attorney if they aren’t
  • Tell you they represent an attorney if they don’t
  • Send you something that looks like an official court document if it is not
  • Send you papers and tell you the papers are not legal forms if they really are legal forms
  • Give false information to anyone about you
  • Tell or threaten to tell anyone about your debt
  • Say you will be arrested if you refuse to pay
  • Harass you by threatening you with violence or harm
  • Threaten you, any members of your family, co-workers or friends
  • Threaten to or publish your name as someone who refuses to pay their debt, except to a Credit Reporting Agency
  • Use obscene language
  • Continue to contact you if you tell them not to contact you or instruct them to communicate with your attorney instead of you
  • Deposit a post-dated check prematurely
  • Threaten to take your property unless the creditor or collector can do so legally
  • Collect an amount greater than the amount of your debt (Note: Some states allow an additional charge for collectors to be added to your debt.)

What to Do if You Think a Debt Collector Broke the Law?

You can report any problems you have to The Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and abusive business practices. To file a complaint, you can visit or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

File a Complaint With Your State’s Office of Attorney General

You have the right to sue a collector in either a federal or state court within one year of the date the law was violated. If you win your case against the collector, you may recover damages. You may wish to contact an attorney to help you with this process. If you do not have an attorney or cannot afford one, you can contact your Local Legal Services provider, or the Lawyer Referral Service of the state, county or local bar association near your home.

Consumer Protection is different in every state. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not change the laws of any State Debt Collection Practice unless that law conflicts with any part of the Act. An attorney can advise you of your rights.

Find Out Where Your Credit Stands

Accounts in collections will affect your credit, which will impact any future loans or lines of credit you attempt to get. You can view a snapshot of your credit report for free on to find out where your credit currently stands. This tool will break down your credit scores into sections and give you a grade for each. You’ll see, for example, how your payment history, debt and other factors are affecting your scores, and you’ll get recommendations for steps you may want to consider to address any problems. Checking your own credit reports and scores does not affect your credit scores in any way.

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    • Eric Hansen

      That’s beginning to happen to many people,you lose your job making decent wages and you cant find another job,or the job you can find doesn’t pay half as much as you used to earn.If you are trying to pay out $4 for every $1 you earn it can’t be done! Many people are losing everything they have!

    • Thomas

      If you cannot pay your bills captaindandan, bankruptcy is right.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      So sorry to hear that. Have you thought about talking with a credit counselor or bankruptcy attorney?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Call them and tell them exactly that. That you want to receive written notice of the debt by mail. They are required to send you that by law within 5 days of initially contacting you. If the threaten a lawsuit over the phone without sending you a written notice of the debt then they are likely either a scammer or breaking the law. If that happens come back here and tell us what they said and we’ll point you to some resources that can help.

    • Michael Bovee

      What is the name of the collection company you are paying?
      What was this debt for originally?

      • Bella143

        The bill originally was a hospital bill. I am sending checks to The Law Offices of Mitchell D. Bluhm and Associates in Texas. The represent CP Medical LLC.

        • Michael Bovee

          I would send a written request for an accurate accounting of all monies paid, and how those payments are being applied. Be sure to clearly identify who you are, your address, any internal file number they use related to your account. I would send certified mail return receipt, and keep a copy of your letter and the green return receipt card together.

          I would wait a week or two for a response. Then call and ask for a reply verbally after bringing someones attention to it.

          Post an update with what happens, and if you have not gotten anywhere, lets go from there.

          • Bella143

            Thank you so much. I will keep you posted. I am trying to get the previous agencies to send me receipts.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I would suggest you talk with your state attorney general’s office and/or a consumer law attorney to find out whether this is legal. Unfortunately interest on judgments varies by states and I can’t advise.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I agree you shouldn’t agree to make payment arrangements you can’t afford. You may also want to talk with a tax professional about your options for dealing with this debt, as it won’t go away on its own. (You may be able to write to the collection agencies and tell them to stop contacting you, but I’d suggest you get legal advice first: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?)

    • Wannano

      I co-signed for my wife to get a auto loan in 2004, i became disabled in 2008, due to limited income we returned the car. The finance company said we owed 9k and the car sold at auction for 4k. They sold the loan to a collection agency. The agency called me back in 2010 saying I owe them 9k. I have not talked to them since. I recently had my credit worked on. I was informed that the collection agency is reporting I owe 9k as of 2mths ago. what can I do.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What state did you live in/ did this all occur in?

      • Vendetta

        you only owe what is the difference between what they sell ir for and what you originally owed to them.i would suggest lookig into your state or county free legal Attorney for better advice.

    • Josh

      Can someone provide some guidance with my situation? I’ve had an alternative cash loan in collections for approximately 4 years and I’m paying 100/month on it. I’ve requested a receipt via email after each payment, however, I don’t always get one. Since October 2013, my receipts have reflected my payments and remaining balance of $1587. When I spoke with a representative with the collection agency today, I was told that the payoff amount was approx. $1850. When asked why, I was told that the creditor had sent over interest information and that the payoff amount is always different than what is reflected on the receipt. I can’t figure out why the amount of interest wasn’t reflected on my receipts for the past YEAR and all of a sudden, they tack on an extra 350 bucks! This seems very deceptive from both the creditor and collection agency. Are my rights being violated??

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Josh – I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They are looking into collection practices and may be able to help. Will you let us know what happens?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Have you checked out the Student Loan Debt Collection Assistant provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

    • Michael Bovee

      What was the name of the school? What were you studying? There are options that open up if the school closed and you were not allowed to finish your program. Was there anything like that involved

      What is it about the collection agency that creates a 10 day sense of urgency?

    • Michelle

      A collector called me a thief for not paying off a credit card that I had been paying for 3 years. I stopped paying it in 2009, I am disabled now so I receive $203.00 monthly. He said they will sue me and take the cash the county gives me every month. I’m in Minnesota, can they do that? And what can I do about being called/labeled a thief?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        That’s illegal. Contact a consumer law attorney asap. They’ll be happy to help you (provided it’s a real collector and not a scammer) and it shouldn’t cost you anything as the collection agency will have to pay the attorney’s fees. Let me know if you need more info.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      What kind of debt is this?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      That really does stink. Unfortunately there is no general requirement that collectors specifically notify you before placing your account with collections and on your credit report. FICO 9 will help…if lenders adopt it. I wrote about that here: Why You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About the New FICO Score… Yet

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do not send them $25 if your goal is to get them off your back. It will not help and may only hurt you. If the statute of limitations has expired on this debt then sending them any amount will restart that time period and give them even longer to sue! What state do you live in? You need to first research the statute of limitations before you do anything or agree to anything.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am not an attorney so please don’t rely on this as legal advice, but my understanding is the statute of limitations is six years in your state. If that’s the case then this debt may be outside the statute of limitations. When did you get the letter from the collection agency?

      If it was within the last 30 days then you have the right to send the debt collector a letter disputing the debt. You can simply write to them and say something like I believe this debt is too old, please verify it. You’ll want to send your letter by certified mail and keep a receipt. In the meantime, my suggestion is you talk with a consumer law attorney or your state attorney general’s office to try to confirm the statute of limitations.

      Either way, if it turns out the statute of limitations has expired then you can send the collection agency a letter stating this debt is too old and that you don’t want them to contact you again. (Again, send the letter certified mail, keep a copy). If you demonstrate that you know your rights it’s unlikely they would still try to sue you but if they do then you can go to court and raise the statute of limitations as a defense.

      The amount of time it can appear on your credit reports is a separate matter so don’t confuse the credit report with the statute of limitations. We wrote about that here:

      Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

      And again, the answer is “NO” – making a small payment won’t stop them from taking you to court and pursuing a judgment and will compromise your rights.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      First of all, the collection agency is required to send you written confirmation of the debt within five days of that initial phone call. Have they sent that? Secondly, you are entitled by law to dispute the debt and they are supposed to provide verification. If they are going to insist on collecting the debt, then they really need to show that it’s legitimate.

      If you received this phone call recently, I suggest you call them and insist they send you a written notification of the debt and then follow up by disputing the debt in writing via certified mail. State you don’t believe you all the debt and ask for proof. If they want or don’t provide it, I would suggest you get consumer law attorney involved or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      Also, please check your free credit reports to see if it’s on there. You can do that at And get a copy of your free credit score to see if this is impacting your scores. You can do that at

    • jimmy

      I made a terrible mistake of authorizing a second card on my personal
      card for an associate with a small business. The credit line on my card
      was 21K and this person was able to stretch it to 65K by entering false
      payments to clear the credit and cash advances before the payment
      rejected. Bottom line is Im left with 65k in debt and my former
      associate is no where to be found and not willing to pay. Looking for a
      miracle here…

      • Credit Experts

        Instead of looking for a miracle, you might want to look for a lawyer. He or she should be able to tell you what your options are.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      While debt collectors normally cannot tell other people about your debt, spouses are often exempted from that rule. However, be very careful about a debt collection notice received by email. Insist on one by snail mail. We’ve seen too many scammers email consumers about debts.

    • Sherriel2001

      I have a bill that is due on 16th of each month. My pay day changed so now I am always late. I got some money for my birthday and went in to offer to pay part of what was due then pay the rest on my new pay day. The collector refused to take it. And they charge interest of $4.25 a DAY for late fee…is this legal

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What kind of debt is this? Is this a payday loan?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Tax debts can be a serious matter. Government agencies often give themselves a variety of ways to collect, and they often have longer to collect than other types of debts. I am going to suggest you talk with a tax professional who works with clients in California (or is based there). That’s especially true if you think the amount may be wrong or you can’t afford to pay it in full.

    • Frustrated in NE

      I’m in Nebraska. I had a bill that was $160 originally. This summer, the owner called me and told me with interest it was $185. I understand that. He has now sent the bill to collection, and it’s suddenly $280. Can they double the bill (or add $100) when they send it to collection? Seems underhanded and sneaky.

      • Credit Experts

        It’s little comfort to know that others have been in similar situations. In some cases it’s legal. Other times, there are miscalculations. Either way, it can be extremely frustrating. To further complicate it, state laws are different. We wrote about the issue here: Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt?.

    • confused

      I just saw my credit report and it included the negative history of my ex wifes credit. What can i do? please help!

      • Credit Experts

        If your wife’s history is on your report, it is probably because of joint accounts (or possibly because you were an authorized user on an account of hers). We wrote about credit and divorce here: What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Divorced?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I wish I could tell you but I just don’t know the rules in all jurisdictions across the country. State governments usually give themselves a long time to collect! I’d suggest she reach out to Legal Aid to see if they can help.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If this was a collection agency that you were dealing with (and not the original creditor) then it sounds like they may have broken multiple laws. When is the last time you paid on this debt? What state do you live in? Do you have any other assets besides Social Security?

    • Credit Experts

      A judgment would not be removed from a credit report because of consistent payments. It sounds as if contacting a consumer lawyer might be useful to help you, your husband and his mother untangle the situation resulting from co-signing, a judgment and possible miscommunication. This resource may be useful:
      How Co-Signing Can Affect More Than Just Your Credit Score

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I don’t understand the question Rick. If the debt collector gets a wage garnishment order – which typically only happens after they take you to court and get a judgment – then they can garnish your wages until the debt is paid. Have they already sued you and obtained a judgment? If not, then I think you are wondering about the statute of limitations, which we wrote about here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

    • Gerri Detweiler
    • female24

      I got a call months ago where someone was asking for my personal information… social security number (NO!) address (no!) even birthday (though you could look this up on facebook, I was feeling very violated like they were trying to steal my passwords). So after a few tries of trying to get me to give this up, I tell them I am annoyed and that they should stop calling me – I don’t have time for this nonsense, I’m not giving you my personal information before you tell me who you are… I am at work, goodbye. They haven’t called.

      I just checked my credit report and I have a mysterious 69$ in collections for a medical bill that I don’t remember making or ever being informed of. What are my rights? Do I have a 90 day grace period if I’ve never been written? My name is mispelled on one of my aliases, could I have identity theft? Doesn’t make much sense, but not much does.

    • Thomas

      Is there anyone that knows the answer to this question:
      I had an MRI done when I was a junior in college, I was 20 at the time. My parents agreed to pay the bill– and they forgot to. I started getting phone calls from the business office of the place I owed the bill, and every time I told them to call my parents– they never did. This went on for a year–I even had my parents call them. (They’re aware it was their fault, and want to make it right). They never called, nor spoke to my parents about paying the bill.

      I stopped hearing from them all together.

      They then sent the bill to collections, which has just shown up on my credit score this year. So, it took about 2 years before the debt to even show. It was a year before they reported it, but they never contacted the people who were to pay it—as I was their dependent.

      Well, now that it is on my credit score– my credit score is low– without that collection–my score was nearly perfect. No missed payments on student loans or anything!

      My parents want to take responsibility for the loan— is there anything I can do to get this score off of my report? They were willing to pay it in full, if the business office has just called them–but they never did!

      Thanks for any help!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Since you were an adult – 20 at the time – you were probably legally responsible for it. You and your parents can try negotiating with the collection agency to see if they will remove it in exchange for payment. They aren’t obligated to do so but sometimes they will. Or sometimes if you do pay it and dispute it later it will get removed, but there is no guarantee.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Vonnie – it would be a good idea for you to consult with a consumer law attorney familiar with the laws in your state. Gene Melchionne is a bankruptcy attorney in Connecticut and I would bet he could advise you as to whether this debt is outside the statute of limitations, and what to do if it is. (He has contributed articles to the blog). Or you can visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find a local attorney.

    • Norman

      hi I am trying to work out a payoff with a debt collector. should I get it in writing before I pay or is over the recorded phone line ok? please get back to me thanks

      • Credit Experts

        Norman —
        It’s best to get it in writing. Also, be sure that the collector you are talking to is the actual owner of the debt. You’ll find more advice here:
        The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

        • Norm

          Thank you I had asked for a written conformation about what we had talked about he said he was not mailing anything and that I had to except a email confirmation. So I had just told him to go do what he has to do and I will hire an attorney then

    • sunny

      I am paying monthly on a hospital bill – but they still sent the bill to a collection agency – I did not think they could do that – is that legal?

    • BlackBird

      I’m dealing with a collection agency that never sent me an initial statement of debt. They just called me to notify me that they were a collection agency and who the debt was owed to. I knew that I owed the money, so I didn’t argue and set up a payment plan. Each time I’ve called to find out what my balance is, I’ve notified them that I believe there is a discrepancy in the balance and have requested they provide me with a statement so I could try and figure out where the difference is. They have refused each time, saying that they can only give me my balance verbally and are not allowed to provide it in writing. This doesn’t seem right to me. Are they allowed to deny me a written statement of my balance at any given time? Also, I believe they are charging me interest. Isn’t that illegal? Especially if I don’t have a contract stating that there will be additional charges besides the original debt?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        No that doesn’t seem right to me either, and I am concerned you could wind up paying them indefinitely depending on the interest they are charging you. I would suggest you consider talking with a consumer law attorney to find out if their actions are legal. Or at least file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You may also want to send them a certified letter insisting they send you written confirmation of the debt and the terms of your repayment, including the interest rate. You’re right to proceed with caution here.

        Also read: Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It depends on the contract and state law. In most states interest can be added to unpaid debt. Still an increase from $19 to $462 seems extremely high. You may want to either contact a consumer law attorney or at least file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      A collector is allowed to access your credit reports to collect a debt. Unfortunately, though, he gave you advice that I don’t think was in your best interest. Now you are facing credit card debt that will incur interest (probably at a high rate) and further collection activity if you can’t pay that. I would really encourage you to get some impartial advice about your situation. Please talk with both a credit counseling agency and a bankruptcy attorney. I know bankruptcy is not something you want to contemplate at this moment – and maybe it’s not the best move for you – but you really need someone to look over your entire financial situation and help you figure out a game plan for handling this debt. The consultation with both professionals – the credit counselor and the bankruptcy attorney – should be free or at a low cost. And simply getting a consultation won’t affect your credit.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Possibly. The provider may have been required to tell her ahead of time that they turn delinquent balances over to collections, but in many cases they aren’t required to provide a specific notice right before they do that. She may want to talk with a consumer law attorney. (She can likely get a free consult.) If she is having trouble finding an attorney I suggest she use the search function on the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

    • Credit Experts

      Cherrio —
      You should not ordinarily be responsible for debts incurred when you were 17. Try disputing the debt with each of the three major credit reporting agencies (assuming this is on all your credit reports). You’ll want to do this by certified mail, explaining that you were a minor when the bill was incurred and enclosing a copy of your birth certificate. Here’s how to dispute it:
      How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

    • Credit Experts

      They are not supposed to do that. We encourage you to report them to your state attorney’s office or submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. So if the storage facility itself contacted you (not a debt collector) then it’s not covered by the FDCPA. You’d need to check with a consumer law attorney or your state attorney general’s office to find out if state laws were violated.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am sorry – I am not familiar with how it works in Canada.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Who is they?

      • Chris Ponder

        A local plumber who I received a quote from. I never signed any type of agreement or contract for any services, only requested a quote and now they are billing me for the quote

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Hmmm…very odd. Unless they charge a service call charge to give you a quote. But even then it seems that should have been disclosed to you, and you should have accepted it. (I am not an attorney though so i can’t provide legal advice.)

          I’d suggest you send them a certified letter stating that you don’t believe you owe the debt and that you will contact an attorney if this affects your credit. Make sure you have a current copy of your credit reports and your credit score so you can prove damage to your credit if it comes to that. Hopefully not. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Possibly yes. There are few consumer protections here. We wrote about that in this article: Four Medical Bill Myths That Can Cost You Dearly. You may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s a good question. I assume it may depend on what the original contract said. Have you tried contacting your state attorney general’s office?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am so sorry to hear that…maybe you can ask to speak to a supervisor…? They aren’t required to accept what you can afford but it also doesn’t do them much good to demand what you can’t afford.

    • swhite

      I bought a car in 2006 when living in Arizona. I could no longer make payments and called the dealership to have them take it back. I was told it doesn’t work that way so when I got a call from the collection agency to make a payment or they would take the car, I said come get it. No one came to get it. I returned to Michigan in 2010 and got a call about payment I gave them my new address and said please come take it. No one was sent. Finally about 6 months later I received another call in which I told them again my address and to get the car like I had told them to do numerous times. A week later they got it not without asking me if I was going to give them trouble as I walked out with the keys. I owed 10 thousand yet on this car that was auctioned out for $300 and I was left with a 13 thousand dollar bill mainly full of lawyer fees. This collection agency has called me at 10 p.m. and has also contacted my grandparents home numerous times. To this day they still call my grandparents and they have now gotten to the point where they don’t answer anymore because they call almost every other day.

    • Researcher

      I am assisting my coworker with her Mortgage process and she is going through an agency. She was told to write a letter to the debtor, however, she was also told that the debt will be removed from her credit report next month. Should she reach out to the creditor or simply wait until that debt has expired in less than 60 days?

    • JACKI

      Can a collector come to your place of employment to serve you a letter to collect?

    • V

      Does a debt collector have to inform you of a debt prior to credit reporting

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Not usually. It’s usually part of the contract with the original creditor that the debt may be reported to credit reporting agencies if it is not paid.

    • Kierra Wilson

      I owed DTE Energy $580. I settled with their collection agency for $480 as long as I paid $50 down and then $215 a month for two months. I made My down payment and called back a month later to make my second payment and I was that DTE sold my account to another collector and that my agreement with the previous collector was now void. Can they do that? After I already begun to make payments?

    • Dee

      Can a company send you to collections without ever sending an invoice?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If you owe them money then they probably can but it would depend on the facts and circumstances.

    • Dee

      Some co-workers and i went on a wine tour and had a limo deal ( through groupon for 6 hour tour) for $350 that was supposed to have wine and cheese in the car.. Well long story short wine and cheese wasnt there and we went over our ‘contract’ by an hour ($125 each hr OT) now the company is calling me tellling me i owe them $460.. For 2 hrs OT $250 gratuity $150 and refueling $60 (which the refueling was never mentintioned in any phone call or contract) bringing the total to $460… I emailed them letting them know this is incorrect and i disagree.. 1 hour OT $125 OK …. Gratuity was 20% in the contract which would be $95.. My issue is when they did call to collect they were rude and told me i HAD to pay or they were sending me to collections.. can they threaten you with collections??

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am not aware of anything that says it is illegal for someone to whom you owe money to threaten to send you to collections. But I am not an attorney so I can’t say for sure. If you paid by credit card, remember you may be able to dispute the charge if the services were not delivered as agreed.

    • Josephine

      I got into a apartment with a roommate. Her portion of the rent was 650. I found out that she was only paying half, if that, each month. I found out when I went to go pay rent, they told me that I had to pay the full amount due, which was 2450.00. I had no idea about anything going on because my roommate was discussing “payment plans” with the company and I was not involved. Needless to say, we were evicted and we moved out separately. I got a bill for 7500, lawyer fees, rent due (I guess she never turned in her key and they kept charging rent). I have tried several times to get her to resolve the issue or attempt and just found out she moved out of state and now I have no way of contacting her. Is there anything I can do to get this out of my name or am I stuck paying it so I can get it off my credit?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It doesn’t sound like she is going to pay. If you were a cosigner on the lease they can likely come after you for the full amount unless the lease said otherwise. That means you’ll need to either settle with them or talk with a bankruptcy attorney. Sorry it’s turned out so badly for you.

    • Christopher T.

      My girlfriend was in a 12 month lease with her ex boyfriend. She left after 3 months and left her name on the lease otherwise he would have been homeless. Recently she got a notification that she owes 800$ to the apartments for carpet replacement. The debt collection agency told her that the apartments tried for 4 months to get him to pay but he out right refuses to pay so they sent to collections. My girlfriend was never notified in that 4 months about the due amount. And now collections can’t get a hold of the boyfriend and are coming after her. What can we do? I just don’t feel she’s liable if they never contacted her by phone or mail before going to collections. We live in arizona.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Unfortunately, that’s not usually the way it works. When you sign a lease, you are responsible for the entire amount plus any damages until the lease is terminated. It’s not usually a simple as just walking away. And in many cases as long as you are in default the balance can be sent to collections without any specific prior notice. However, I don’t know what landlord-tenant law in Arizona is, so I recommend you check with someone locally: state landlord tenant laws

    • Guest

      Hello Gerri, I have a question about a debt collector that called me this morning regarding an outstanding balance for a security system I had to cancel last year….

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What is the question?

    • OlderManthanOldMan

      A monetary debt is a civil matter — NOT a criminal matter. It IS NOT illegal, under any criminal law, either state or federal, to simply be in debt. So, NO the police WILL NOT arrest you or otherwise cite you because you owe a debt and you simply cannot pay it. Should a debt collector EVER actually call the police on you in an attempt to collect on a debt, the police will only tell that debt collector who called them that their call into the police department is something that is simply NOT a police matter AT ALL — and then the police will only get back into their cars and leave the scene of where this takes place. …The police, in ANY (American) legal jurisdiction, themselves, REALLY DO NOT have the time for such (civil matter) calls, AT ALL!!!
      “END-OF-STORY” here.

    • OlderManthanOldMan

      First of all, a creditor or a debt collector, at civil law, anyway, just simply CANNOT discriminate against you as a debtor, based solely on your source or sources of income, be it Social Security Title II Disability Insurance Benefits, Social Security Title XVI Supplimental Security Income Benefits, or “whatever” ! So, really, they have no right at all to say something to you like, “What are you doing buying things on credit that you cannot afford, because you are on a disability-type of an income?” I think, that when you went right ahead and agreed to a pay-back plan to take care of this debt as soon as you can do that, unfortunately, for the debt collector and not in your favor at all, that “cinched”, to the debt collector, that, YES, YOU DO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU DO, IN FACT, OWE THIS DEBT AND THAT THE DEBT, ITSELF, IS A GOOD, TRUE AND JUST DEBT OF YOURS, THAT YOU DO OWE TO THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR AND/OR TO THE OFFICE(S) OF THIS PARTICULAR DEBT COLLECTOR. …I don’t know what American state that you live in (if you do happen to live anywhere in America, anyway), however, please simply understand this: In America, some states, within their state consumer protection laws, are what are generally referred to as “pro-creditor states”, while other American states are what are generally referred to as
      “pro-debtor states”. Each American state is one or the other, but NOT both, at the same time, OK? So, if you are lucky enough that you now happen to be living in and thus have your current legal residence in one of the “pro-debtor states”, as opposed to one of the “pro-creditor states”, your chances of getting out of something here that, REALLY, this debt collector unfairly tricked you into in talking to you on the phone and recording what you said to this debt collector are better, basically, than what this chance of yours would now be if you were living in and thus making your legal residence in a “pro-creditor state”. It sounds kind of “complicated”, I know, however, if you simply read this maybe at least two or three different times, if you happen to need to do that, once you understand it, it DOES become really very simple, then. …How long ago was this debt originally incurred — if, n fact, you did (ever) incur it, in the first place? And, how long ago was it that you last acknowledged this debt as a good, true and actual debt of yours — if you have EVER done that, AT ALL? Find out, in your state, what the statute of limitations is on creditors and/or debt collectors legally being able to continue to attempt to collect on old debts is, BEFORE YOU EVER SAY ANYTHING ELSE TO THIS DEBT COLLECTOR!!!!!!! This, alone, could very well work greatly in your favor here, as the ALLEDGED debtor, in this particular case! And, at this point in time, it may very well be about all that you have to go on now, should it actually be that you just simply cannot now ever repay this ALLEDGED debt! Also, if you haven’t already done so, GO TO YOUR BANKING FINANCIAL INSTITUTION AND CHANGE FROM YOUR OLD BANK ACCOUNT TO A NEW BANK ACCOUNT — WITH A NEW BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER — IMMEDIATELY, AS A CREDITOR AND/OR A DEBT COLLECTOR SUCH AS A COLLECTION AGENCY CAN, IN FACT, WITH A COURT ORDER, ANYWAY, ONCE THEY HAVE SUED YOU FOR A DEBT AND THEY NOW HAVE A JUDGEMENT AGAINST YOU FOR THAT DEBT, DEBIT THE MONEY RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, TO PAY THAT JUDGEMENT — WHICH WOULD INCLUDE ADDITIONAL CHARGES, SUCH AS ATTORNEY’S FEES, COURT COSTS AND SO-FORTH!!! IT DOES NOT MATTER THE SOURCE OF THE MONEY THAT IS IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, AT THE TIME THAT THEY GO AHEAD AND MAKE THEIR DEBIT AGAINST YOUR PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT, FOR THIS!!! (In the case of a federal benefit, such as Social Security Disability, you MIGHT be able to later get your money back from them if they caused a financial hardship for you in doing this to you — however, GOOD LUCK with that!!! This is because IT WILL SURELY, THEN, TAKE AT LEAST A MONTH OR TWO, OR VERY POSSIBLY EVEN LONGER THAN THAT, TO EVER GET YOUR DISABILITY MONEY BACK FROM THEM AGAIN!!!

    • rick

      We were never even served in nj and did not live at the address they said for over a year. never got a copy of anything . try to use a bank card one night find out bank account seized. How did they even know where the account was. at that point we could not fight anything we were told company wanted more money and we had to pay or else… Very bad experience..These guys are crooks. preying on people who cannot afford to fight back the debt was over 5 to six years old no less and we never got info that it was ours!!!!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Have you talked with a consumer law attorney to find out whether it’s possible to try to challenge the judgment due to the fact that you weren’t properly served?

    • Lou

      My wife and I fell on hard times and had to run up credit cards. She has a small consulting business. If one of her creditors gets a default judgment against her on debt, not associated with her business, will they be able to put a lean on her business account which is an LLC? She is signor on the account, but the name on the account is in her business name. We live in Colorado.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I ran your question by Garrett Sutton, an attorney and founder of Here’s his reply:

        The creditor will not be able to directly lien the business bank account. Instead, they will have to go to court and apply for a charging order against her membership interest in the LLC. The charging order is a lien against distributions she may receive from the LLC. If she receives nothing then neither does the creditor. The charging order is the exclusive judgment creditor remedy in strong LLC states such as Wyoming and Nevada. Colorado is not among the top asset protection states. In addition to the charging order a creditor in Colorado can seek to appoint a receiver or pursue other remedies. Still, the Colorado LLC does prevent a judgment creditor from going straight for the LLC bank account, which could occur in a sole proprietorship scenario.

    • Annalis

      Hello, I really need some advice! I signed up for a gym membership seven months ago. I was hesitant to join because I knew the lease on my apartment would be up before the membership — the membership was supposed to be a two year-membership unless the member moved more than 25 miles away (this was their words before I joined). However, since they assured me this was the case, I signed up. A few days ago I told them I needed to cancel because I’d be moving soon and they surprised me with telling me I needed 60 days to cancel along with a $100 cancellation fee. I explained I simply cannot pay that nor was I notified of such a charge, and they insisted it was in the contract. I was never given a contract nor did I ever sign one! No one even mentioned one when I signed up at the gym! I froze my debit card that I was paying with because they would not cancel and I cannot afford these extra hidden charges. Can they send collection agencies after me if I did not sign a contract that notified me of these extra charges? (The contract is not listed on their website either, so there would be no way of knowing this otherwise!) Any advice offered would be great! Thank you.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Yes they may send you to collections. I would urge you to be proactive. Send them a certified letter stating what occurred and file a complaint with the BBB. If they send you to collections you can try using that information to dispute the debt. This isn’t legal advice, though, and you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney.

        • Annalis

          Thank you for your help!

          • Gerri Detweiler

            My pleasure. Let us know how this turns out!

    • marty

      I filed bankruptcy 10 years ago and my bank has not reported my house payments and its screwing my credit up what can I do

    • sblessley

      We are getting calls (wrong numbers) for a person we don’t know. We have repeatedly asked them to stop calling, that they’re “barking up the wrong tree”. Do we have any recourse? We’re in Arizona, the calls are coming from West Virginia.

      • Credit Experts

        You may find some ideas here: 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls (and in comments as well; our readers are quite resourceful and creative).

        • sblessley

          Thanks; the last point (tell them you’re complaining to the FTC) might be helpful – the rest are about valid (or potentially valid) debt. This is simply a wrong number – no idea whether “Deborah’s” debt is valid or not. Nor who she is, for that matter.

    • Sally

      I currently am working with a company that helps pay my debt. They withdraw a certain amount from my account each month and negotiate with all my debtors to pay off the debt. Recently I received a summons to appear in court due to a debt. Don’t know what to do because I’m in the process of paying through this company. What should I do?

      • Credit Experts

        Let the company that you’re working with know that you received the summons. Is the debt among those included in your debt management plan? And by all means, plan on going to court.

    • mary

      Hi I have received 3 calls from a guy stating that he has legal documents for me to sign for a court date. He stated that he would be stopping by my home or my last known job and I need to provided him with a valid state ID. the number he left was for an investment firm. Can he really do this?

    • wondering

      I have an unsecured loan with a company. I had trouble remembering to send the payment in so I made arrangements for the bank to take the money out of my account and send it via electronic check. The company has refused to accept the check for the past three months. Do they not have to accept an electronic check?

      • Credit Experts

        Are you using automatic bill pay? Or do you mean they don’t accept an electronic funds transfer?

    • corley

      I supposedly owed US Bank 480.00 from 2008. Every year I get a threatening calls in Feburary saying I have to go to court, the amount has ranged from 480.00-2900.00. In 2014 I payed 1/2 of the balance to one of the agencies. I recently got a call saying that I am being sued for abpproximately $3,000 and its due to fees and interest, can they do that? I aske for emails or something to come in the mail and it never does, what can I do?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am very suspicious about the whole situation. You may owe them money but generally a creditor or collector can’t threaten you over the phone saying you have to go to court. If they are taking you to court they must serve you with legal papers. And the fact that they won’t send you anything in writing makes me suspicious as well – under federal law you must get written notification of the debt.

        Are you sure you’re not dealing with a scammer? Have you thoroughly checked out this collector? How did you pay them?

    • DEE

      Gerri, got a good one here for you. my husband died in 206 ,he owed Acompanyfor sideing for the house i didnt know he got this on a card,my name was not on the card . . so when he died i got a letter saying they were going to put a lein on my house because its my house. well being paying on this for a bout 8 years now 113.00 a month .i got it from 14, 000,00 dollars to around3,000. some of this was money i owed ,and i was paying that with no problem i think my payment was about35,or 45 dont remember for sure this collector did not tell me how much my husband owed. so is ther’re any thing i can do

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am sorry Dee, but I don’t understand what your question is…

        • Dee

          Gerri sorry ,i was wondering , the company he owed money to were they aloud to make me pay for something i didnt sign for . and they didnt say if he owed for any thing else on the his card or how much heowed they just sent me me a letter sayingwhat they were going to do i got so upset i threw the letter away it didnt have no amout on it hope this helps Dee

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Dee – I am sorry to hear what you are going through. It sounds like your next step should be to talk with a consumer law attorney to see what your rights are with regard to this debt. You should be able to get a free consultation. If you are having trouble finding an attorney I suggest you use the search function on the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Another option would be to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I am afraid I just don’t understand the specific situation enough to advise you.

    • T

      I shared an apartment with a friend who in turn, never paid their half of the rent, which caused us to be evicted and now I’m left with the debt due to I was the primary on the lease(we both signed the lease). I’ve been paying collections $100/month for almost a year now because that’s all I can afford and now I’m being harassed and told that they won’t accept my payments anymore because I MUST pay more. I want to keep paying but the collector will no longer accept my payments over the phone, can I mail the payments and just keep up with my bank statements showing that I’ve attempted to pay or what should I do?

      • Michael Bovee

        How much is owed and what are the details surrounding the balance they are collecting (rent until unit leased, repairs, etc)?

        Is this appearing as a collection on your credit reports?

    • rd

      In sc if you knowledge a debt will that reset the statue of limitation and 7 year reporting? period

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What do you mean acknowledge the debt? Did you agree to make payments? If not you’re probably OK but I am not familiar with the details of all 50 state’s laws. (Acknowledging the debt or paying on it does NOT change the 7 year reporting period.) This article may help: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

    • Drew Webster

      I provided an unsecured personal loan. The debtor has refused to pay as agreed upon at the initial loan agreement. I have been in constant contact with the debtor and he has refused to pay the debt as agreed upon. He has attempted to pay debt to another person that did not loan the money and in an amount not agreed upon when the loan was initiated. Can I continue to contact this debtor to ask for repayment?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Have you thought about taking the debtor to small claims court?

    • Caleb

      I had a lease with an apartment complex. My lease expired October 31st, 2014. I gave a notice on September 1st that I would be moving. I moved out October 13, 2014 which was agreed upon by my landlord. I paid $325 on October 1st to the landlord to cover the dates I was there, and she assured me my deposit would cover any cleaning fees, as well as the remainder of the rent. I never received a letter from the apartment complex claiming i owed them money (and I gave them my forwarding address). I got a call saturday from national credit systems saying I owed over $800 for damages, as well as failure to provide a proper notice to them of me moving. I let them know I have not received any bill, and she said if i did not pay ASAP it would be put on my credit. She asked when I could make a payment, I said if it’s true, possibly April, and she said that is too late and it will be put on my credit and said she’d send me a bill. I also contacted the creditor the day of, and left a voicemail and haven’t heard back from them regarding these claims. Is any of what the Collection Agency said legit? If they don’t send me a letter within five days is the debt considered not valid? And by five days does it mean postmarked five days, or I have to have the letter at my house within five business days?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The text of the FDCPA says: Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing..

        Failing to send that notice could be a violation of the FDCPA but it doesn’t necessarily invalidate the debt. (At the same time, violations of the FDPCA carry $1000 in statutory damages so that would be another way to approach it!)

        You have the right to dispute a debt if you don’t believe you owe it. You mention what you agreed with the landlord – was that all verbal or did you get anything in writing?

    • Credit Experts

      Yes, if you stop paying as agreed, you could get “in trouble.” You could be sued for the balance owed, and if a court orders a judgment, that can be taken from your salary via garnishment. However, if it’s genuinely a burden you cannot afford, you may be able to show a collector your household budget and get a payment plan that is more affordable.

    • Kali Geldis

      Hi —

      You can ask the collector to verify the debt. Any legitimate debt collector should and, in fact, must verify the debt when you make that request. This can also help you weed out a scammer. Often, knowing people fear a collection account on their credit report, scammers will call about nonexistent debts to get quick cash from the recipient.

      At a minimum, requesting validation of a debt gives you time to research the debt to determine if it is legitimate and figure out what you can afford to pay toward it. (If a debt collector refuses to verify the debt after you’ve requested it, the company may be breaking the law.)

    • Brittney Disner

      Hello I had a question? My debt collecter, National Credit Systems and I made an agreement to pay a certain amount to which I can afford.. They will not sent me a letter stating that agreement. I told them I would pay if they sent me a letter in writing as proof of agreement over the phone stating that “I owe..this amount… amount but this is to be paid in full” And that if i paid this amount, my case would be closed.” They told me they will send me a receipt after I pay them, but I want validation that i am only to pay the amount to which we agreed upon. They have however sent me a few letters of the full amount before I called them.. I want to make sure that I receive an agreement letter that if i pay them, then its done and over and i do not owe any more. Also they do not accept checks and only accept debt card over the phone or online.. Is it illegal for them to decline sending me a ‘letter of agreement’? also if i want to send a check only and not use my debt card.. do I have a right to pay as a check? They told me they do not accept checks.. Please help.

      • Credit Experts

        Brittney —
        It sounds like you may be a scam victim. The insistence that you pay with a debit card is a HUGE warning flag. Please read this post:
        The One Way You Should Never Pay a Debt Collector

    • Frustrated

      Hi, I just recieved a letter in the mail letting me know they are going to garnishment wages. This garnishment is for traffic tickets that I recieved 9/2005 at that time I believed I paid them off. In 2008 I recieved my drivers license and wasn’t aware of these citations on my driving Abstract. Since then I wasn’t aware of these citation and was not contacted until I called the wrong collection agencies. My question is can they still garnish my wages after the 10years and if so can they refuse a settlement?

      • Credit Experts

        In order to garnish your wages in most cases, they need a court order. The exception is when you owe money to the government (as in taxes, student loans, etc.). And many states allow wage garnishment or seizure of tax refunds to satisfy unpaid traffic tickets. In general, you won’t be able to settle at this point. Have you checked your credit reports? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

        Here are other resources that may help:
        Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

    • dorothy person

      i had some student loan, i consolidated all of them, one company have already fix the problem with the IRS and the other company is holding the debts like it not payed, i have call them, i told them that April 15 is coming and i don’t want to be put in penalty with the IRS, they told me to get a extension and i should have to do that

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Dorothy – I don’t quite understand your situation but it sounds like it might be worthwhile for you to at least get a consultation with a consumer law attorney with expertise in student loans. website may be of help there.

    • Credit Experts

      Anna —
      Do you have paperwork showing that you dropped the class? And is there any way you cana get together the money you owe? Are they asking only for the $358 grant?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      No probably not. There is not a central database for all defaulted debt. You can ask them to pull their credit reports and it might be on there – or it might not be since it is more than 7 years old. In addition the statute of limitations may have expired. You can learn more here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

    • CuriosityKat

      I just received a statement I owe a debt collect agency, but I have payments set-up back in Oct. 2014 with the Company I owe. I am on a payment plan I just paid my payment this month. Now this letter states I owe due to not paying, when my bank statements and my confirmation codes of payments that I’ve been paying. Is it illegal for a company to send me to collections even though I have been paying for each month consecutively?

      • Credit Experts

        You can — and should — ask for a “validation of the debt” before you pay. It’s possible the collector bought a bundle of debts from your original creditor and yours was included by mistake, but it’s also possible the debt was sold. You can read more here: Can a Debt Collector Sell My Debt If I’ve Started Repaying It?

    • scammed and mad

      I contacted a bogus company thinking they were Apple Support because of how they were listed on Google. I stupidly gave them remote access to my computer–they changed my computer so I didn’t have to use a password to update software, etc. then they charged me $99.99. I cancelled my card when I realized what an idiot I’ve been —now they are calling me 20 times a day to turn me into credit bureau. My bank, Lifelock, and Apple Support told me I was doing the right thing. What is my recourse?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It sounds like they are scammers and scam companies can’t report you to a credit bureau. So it sounds to me like you are doing the right thing. You did dispute the fraudulent chard with your card issuer right?

    • jsutcurious

      I currently owe $2400 to an online university and I have offered to make payments of $30 a month so that I can afford them, since I am not working at this time, but they told me if I cant agree make payments for the amount of $70 a month for 36 months then my account will be sent to a collection agency. I live in Missouri, and I was informed that if I offer to make payments for any set monthly amount and they decline those payments then the debt is considered paid in full. Is this accurate information?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What does your contract with them say? That will be what ultimately governs what you have to pay. If you don’t make the payments required by your contract your account will be in default and you can be sent to collections. They are not required to accept what you can afford or wipe out the debt.

    • Matthew

      can a collections agency tell you they do not own the debt and say they are acting on behalf of the original creditor to collect the debt when in fact the original creditor has told me they sold the debt to a collections agency and no longer own the debt?

      I’m assuming they are trying to avoid me from validating the debt and are probably breaking some sort of law in the process by telling me they have only been assigned the debt?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Clearly there is a disconnect, but it shouldn’t prevent you from requesting validation of the debt. By law, a third party collector they must provide validation of the debt if you request it, regardless of whether they are acting on behalf of the original creditor or have bought the debt. (It’s also possible the creditor it telling you incorrect info.)

        However, if you want to pursue it, you can certainly talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the CFPB. By law 3rd party collectors can’t misrepresent the nature or status of the debt.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      We wrote about that problem in this story: Getting Collection Calls for Someone Else? Here’s What to Do

    • Fred

      I found out today that i owe an apartment complex $200. I haven’t lived at such complex since November of 2013. Doesn’t a company have so long to claim someone owes them money?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The statute of limitations for consumer debts varies by state but it is usually 4 – 6 years.

    • Smish

      I have paid a debt of $1822 to this collection agency and they confirmed over phone that a delete request has been sent to credit bureau to remove the record from my credit report. I contacted credit bureau and got to know that there is no such request been sent from collection agency. I tried confirming back form the agency and got the same response. I am just running back and forth between collection agency and credit bureau but no answers. I don’t know, how can I close this matter.

      • Credit Experts

        Smish —
        Are they reporting that the debt has been satisfied or agreeing to delete the report? (If it is the latter, do you have that agreement in writing?) In most cases, paying the debt is noted on your credit report, but it doesn’t help your score. It does, however, remove the threat of a lawsuit and a judgment. You can read more here: The Bad Stuff Is Off My Credit Reports – So Why Didn’t My Scores Go Up?

    • crystal

      My boyfriend is working on cleaning up his credit and had a few unpaid debts from 2009/2010. In an effort to help him fix his credit, we started calling creditors checking balances etc. Our main concern was the largest of the few debts, which is 5k (reported in 2009-never paid on). If he begins to pay (budgeting 25$ per pay), the statutes of limitations starts over as for suing for the money. My dilemma is that the debt is nearly 6 years old, and it seems like maybe we could wait and it would eventually be removed after 7 years???- If it is possible to remove the debt without paying, how can we go about doing this? Paying on it appears to be the bad decision. Is there anyway he can contact the creditor/collection agency or should/can we contact the credit reporting agency (equifax) to ask them to remove it and he wont be paying at all? Is there a law we could argue for equifax to remove it since the agency didn’t give notice (and still hasn’t), or do we wait until the 7 year credit reporting statute has passed and then send a letter for removal? and who does the letter need to be sent to? the credit reporting agency (equifax) or the collection agency? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!!

      • Credit Experts

        Crystal —
        There are a couple of different dates you’re looking at. One is the statute of limitations (how long it can be collected), and the other is how long it can be reported (which affect your boyfriend’s credit scores). As long as it is unpaid but still collectable, it’s possible for the creditor to sue. So the presence of an item on a credit report is not the only worry (and a judgment is a much bigger black mark on a credit report than a collections). Here’s an explanation of the various dates: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?, and here are some tips for rebuilding credit: How to Rebuild Credit.

        Finally, it’s a good idea for him to check his free credit reports to be sure the information there is accurate and to dispute it if it is not. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

        And here is how to dispute information on a credit report: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    • Vee

      My new gf- very new received a call about me from a collection agency. This seriously makes no sense at all to me how 1) they would even know that I hang out with this person and 2) how they got her number. There is nothing on any of my social media pages about it. I CANNOT figure out how this could have happened. We’ve never lived together or signed up for anything together. The ONLY thing that I can think of is that they illegally got my verizon bill and looked at my texts. There’s no way that this is legal right? I did see last week that the same guy that called her looked at my linkedin profile. Can someone help me figure out this mystery?

      • Credit Experts

        While we have no idea how this particular collector found you, we have written about some of the ways collectors find people here: Why You Can’t Hide From Debt Collectors

    • jhart

      i got a letter in the mail. i got a loan for $300 and was told i would pay 143 a month or pay 510 back but after i signed eloan it was cchanged to 210 a month with almost 800% interest is this legal

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Hmmm…it likely depends on the fine print. The offer you received may have been a “pre-approved” offer subject to a review of your credit and application. Do you still have the letter to see if that’s the case?

        • jhart

          yes i have the letter and it dosnt say anything about the % of loan. it was done after i signed. they changed from 143 a month to 210 a month and now will not answer me

          • Gerri Detweiler

            I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a consumer law attorney in your area.

            • jhart

              thank you

    • brenda

      Hi, if I settled a credit card in 2005, my husband at the time was an authorized user. We just got call from a collection agency today, 9 yrs later, saying he owes 2300 for a credit card and I that I was joint us on the card. I beleive it was the card i settled. They also said i could pay half to get my me off the complaint. Can they do this??

      • Credit Experts

        You settled the debt in 2005? At this point it should no longer be on your credit report. Sometimes collection agencies buy debts that are no longer legally collectable and try to get people to pay anyway (and some do!). You can read more here:
        The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

    • mag

      I called a collection company to inquire on a debt that was on my credit report and was told there were 4 different accounts (two of which were not appearing on my credit report) and the fourth was under a different name. The two that were not on my report were 5 years old. Are they allowed to report the older debts to the credit bereaus or do they have to send me a letter first?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        The don’t have to send you a letter first. But now that you have talked with them they should send you written notice of the debt and you have the right to request verification of the debt. As for how long they can be reported, this article goes into that: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

        • mag

          Thank you.
          Do you recommend I contact them again and request for written verification? I would really like to prevent those two accounts from being reported to the credit bereaus. Should I wait for letter?
          Thank you

          • Gerri Detweiler

            It’s your call but I am not sure that asking them will change whether they report it to the credit reporting agencies. By the way, they are required to send you the notice within 5 days of initial contact with you. This is a requirement, not an option and if they don’t they are breaking the law. (Unless somehow they claim they mailed it before…) We have an article coming out on that next week.

            • mag

              So I understand correctly, they have to send a letter prior to reporting to bureaus? Or do they have to send a letter five days after talking to me? They told me how much was owed and when the accounts went into collection. They also gave me a settlement amount. I said I would call back. I’m not sure how to proceed.
              Thank you

            • Gerri Detweiler

              They don’t have to send a letter before reporting to the bureaus. But within 5 days of initial contact they need to send you a verification letter which in turn gives you the opportunity to request validation of the debt. You must be given the notice of your rights to dispute the debt/request validation. We talked about that in this article: I Never Knew I Had a Debt in Collections. What Are My Rights?

    • mendy

      My mother opened an account with GE MONEY in 2009. I was the co user on that but i never ever agreed to any terms and conditions. I never agreed to any financial responsibility. Last week i obtain my annual credit report and i was shocked to see that account on my collection. I am very confused , don’t know what to do? Should i tell my mom to send a letter to collection agency that she is the fully responsible for this account and her kid needs to be removed from this account????

      • Credit Experts

        Mendy —
        What do you mean by co-user? Are you an authorized user? Or is it a joint account? If you are an authorized user, all you have to do is call the card issuer and ask to have your name removed. (See: The Right Way to Remove Someone from Your Credit Card). Once that is done, you can check again (wait about 30 days) to see if it is gone. You can also check your credit scores for free on, and they are updated every 30 days. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

        If it turns out that this is a joint account — and we hope that is not the case — and you had not realized, you would be responsible for the debt.

    • Bekka

      so I sent a payment to the collector and they cashed the first one, then I sent the second payment and they mailed it back to me, is this legal?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Why did they reject it? Did they say? Have you asked them?

    • lissett Martinez

      I took my nephew to the ER he was treated and discharged. Once i got the bill i called to provide insurance info i got from Mom. Then i get a collection call. Is this right can i be sent to collections for my nephew especially because i had already called and mailed the insurance information. Rep was very rude and said i should have brought it in at time of service. Which is ok but im being sent even i gave them the information they needed, is it my fault?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Probably not. Unless you agreed to be financially responsible, it shouldn’t be your bill. (Even then the provider should have billed insurance.) Did you get anything in writing from the collection agency? They are required by law to send you written notice of the debt. When you get it, you can dispute it. More in this article: I Never Knew I Had a Debt in Collections. What Are My Rights?

        Have you talked to your nephew’s mom? Is she getting the bill resolved with the ER?

    • grandmajo

      My son just received a summons to court for a medical bill that he was not aware that he owed on. He had an emergency appendectomy on 4/23/14. At the time he had no insurance due to being recently hired by a company and not being past the probationary period yet. Prior to that he had been laid off for some time. At discharge, the hospital gave him forms to fill out for financial hardship. He filled them out and mailed them. Shortly afterwards he received a bill from them, so he called them and told them that he had mailed them his financial hardship papers. He never heard another word from them, never received another bill either. It is now 4/14/2015, almost a full year later and he has received a summons from a collection agency that he is being sued. This is also the FIRST and ONLY contact that the collection agency has made with him.

      First off, I thought that the hospital had to inform him that the bill was delinquent and being turned over to a collection agency. According to the paperwork, it was assigned to them on 2/5/15.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s hard to say exactly what happened here but your son’s story is not unusual. There is no specific requirement in the FDCPA that requires them to contact consumers before sending the account to collections. though there may be state laws that apply. In addition there are new requirement in the Affordable Care Act but I don’t believe they have gone into effect yet.

        Since he is being sued, I’d recommend he meet with a consumer law attorney right away to find out if he has a defense to the debt. You can certainly try complaining to the hospital to see if they would pull it back from collections but since it’s now a legal matter it’s probably past that point. If they agree, get it in writing. Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

        Your son should also file a complaint with the CFPB which is looking into medical collections.

    • ryan

      I live in Michigan, I owe a small amount of debt to a collection agency(under $200). I attained the debt when I was 18 with a credit union. I am willing to pay the debt in full. I need a new vehicle and would like to finance one. Because i owe another lending institution that isn’t going to go over well with my current lender. I called the collection agency that is holding the debt and offered to pay off the debt if they delete the debt from report. they said it is illegal, How can I ensure that they will delete off of my credit.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Unfortunately, you can’t. They aren’t obligated to delete it if you pay it, but if you pay it off they should change the balance to zero. If that isn’t satisfactory to the lender you are working with you may need to find another lender.

    • Chaundra

      My fiance recently received a notice from a collector stating how much he owed due to a medical bill. He payed all of it in full and we thought it was over. He then looked at his credit score and found out he was being sent to collections by another agency for a different medical bill that he was never notified about. He never received a bill from the ER and never received a note from the collecting agency but it is effecting his credit horribly. What are our options and were there any laws violated. We live in Colorado.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Medical billing issues like this are a serious problem and I don’t have a simple answer for him. He may want to start by contacting the ER to find out why he never got a bill and to see whether the amount is correct. If it is, he may want to see if he can get them to pull it back from collections so he can pay them directly. He may also want to complain to the CFPB as they are getting involved in this issue. Please read: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      • Diane Williams

        Has his address always been the same? Usually, the facility will at least send out 2 to 3 statements and then if there is no contact then they will assign the account to a collection agency that will then send out statements and make phone calls. The accounts depending on the age of the account from the time of service may have been through at least 2 agencies. His best bet is to contact the facility and then they will let him know where his account is and then contact that agency that is working the account and discuss with them that if he resolves the account that they will remove the credit reporting. A lot of times the agencies can have the credit reporting removed as opposed to just updating it, especially if it was a case that he never received any communication, possibly due to a bad address or wrong phone numbers, etc. As for laws being violated, not that I am aware of, especially if he signed the Consent to Treatment and Financial Assignment, the section “Financial Responsibility” talks about the fact of “I agree to pay any and all services rendered and expenses incurred by the patient. I, as the responsible person on this account, understand that bills are payable in full upon rendering of treatment. Delinquent accounts will be turned over to a collection agency.”

    • FreddyT

      What if you are not the person they are looking for but has the identical name like it might be my son. . I’ve been getting 3-4 phone calls every day( I do not answer the phone do to caller ID) They have stated on answering machine that they are an collection agency. I want to answer and tell them I am not the party they are looking for but I don’t know what I have to answer to their questions. I see my son maybe twice a year at my residence to pick up his mail. He uses my mailing address. Other than that I have no idea of what he does or doesn’t do. What do I say or don’t say to this bill collector when I speak to them?

      • Credit Experts

        You can ask them not to contact you at all by phone if you wish, and you could keep mailed correspondence for your son. You need not tell them you are related; you can ask either by phone or in writing that they discontinue calling. If you are concerned about being asked questions, you could send a certified letter. That way, there will be no questions.

    • Peppermynt

      I paid the original debt to the collection agency but I did not pay the interest on the debt to the collection agency. The collection agency stated they would not clear my account until I pay the interest that was assessed. What should I do now? The original debt was to an apartment management company back in 2010.

      • Credit Experts

        If you are asking if a collection agency can charge you interest, the answer is yes. You can read more here: Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt?

    • Jill Garrison

      I had a car loan in 2011 that I was past due. The company took to facebook and started contacting my friends about my loan. The company told them personal information about my payments and how much I was past due at them time. I have 16 pages of a conversation this company had with my friend. Are they allowed to do that?

      I know a girl in florida won her case with this issue but I am in Ohio

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It may very well be illegal. I’d recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney. You can find one by visiting the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. We’d be very interested in hearing what happens.

    • ronflores

      Recently I made my payment towards in collection agency recently showing their name of the agency in my bank statement.Now how they could manipulate to change to customer withdrawal instead the agency name in my bank statement. ???

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I have no idea – have you talked with your bank?

    • scared

      I just got a letter in the mail today saying I owe on a 2 year old debt. I called and told the woman I need to discuss a payment plan with my boyfriend. She’s calling me back tomorrow. I dont really have the money right now. So if I don’t answer when she calls, or make a first payment, what will happen after the 30 days.

    • kylie

      I just received a letter in the mail today about a 2 year old debt from a company that has been bought out. I called the number and the lady wanted me to make a payment plan but I told her I needed to discuss it with my boyfriend first. She’s calling me tomorrow to talk more about setting up a plan. If I don’t answer her call or make a first payment with in the 30 days, what will happen? Do I even have to pay it since the company was bought out. Its just an old phone bill.

      • Credit Experts

        Having a company bought out would not mean you no longer owed the bill. Do you know if you are dealing with a debt collector or the company that bought out the original company? Not paying could result in a lawsuit or having the bill sent to collections. Your credit score could also suffer.

        • kylie

          I got the letter from a debt collector. And does the 30 days start after I called or after I set up a payment plan? My phone bill is over 600 dollars. And they want me to pay over 100 biweekly. What idle I can’t afford that amount?

          • Credit Experts

            We’re not sure about the 30 days. You have 30 days from when you receive the “demand letter” to request a validation of the debt. If you cannot afford the amount they suggest, see if you can get them to negotiate with you. You can find suggestions here: How Do I Get a Debt Collector to Negotiate With Me?

            • kylie

              Okay. I’ve already set up the plan now, but a couple days ago, I got another letter from another agency. My boyfriend is worried one of them is fraudulent because when I talked to Afni (the first agency) they told me that they will keep my account until October 16th. So how does someone else have it at the same time? …

            • Gerri Detweiler

              It does happen, especially as debts get older. I suggest you send a certified letter to the new company stating that you are already paying the bill through XX agency. In the meantime, make sure you thoroughly check out the one you are paying. Visit for information.

    • April Simpson

      I owe a apartment complex im 21 and trying to get in a good apartment complex. I have no eviction.. How long does the stent owned become a problem applying for a apartment? Any advice?

      • Credit Experts

        April —
        You may do best with someone who doesn’t check with your former landlords. Most landlords will be concerned that if you owe rent to a former landlord you may one day owe it to them. Is there any way you can pay the rent you owe?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I think it’s going to be tough to resolve that one. You could try asking them to reapply it and if they won’t, file a complaint with the CFPB….

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ronni – I am researching your question.

    • Diane Williams

      It is not a violation if you signed a Consent to Treatment and Financial Assignment document. If you read through it, there is a section labeled “Consent to Release and Obtain Information” this section talks about giving the facility permission or the affiliated facilities permission to release and/or obtain information from your medical record for the purpose of treatment, payment and health care operations as more fully described in the Notice of Privacy Practices,

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I’m sorry I really am not sure that I understand your question. But if I’m guessing I think what you’re saying is you have unpaid debt to an apartment complex that is not showing on your credit reports. You are worried that if it shows up it will make it more difficult for you to rent another apartment correct?

      I don’t have a definitive answer for you unfortunately. Whether or not it will show up depends on whether it’s with the collection agency, whether that collection agency reports, and who they report to. The best I can recommend is that you try and hope for the best.

    • GERRY


      • Credit Experts

        Have you asked them not to? You could consider sending them a request, via certified mail, not to contact you by phone. Federal law requires that they comply. (You may want to keep the option of communicating by mail open, so that you can ensure payments are correctly being applied to your balance.)

    • Casey

      I just discovered my old cable company sent me to collections for $67! The worst part is I never received a bill or notice that the account had any balance owing. Now my credit score is a 679 and prior to this I have no missed payments or collections. I paid the balance immediately, but they told me they “don’t have the authority to remove the collection from my credit report”. What can I do now? This will cost me thousands of extra dollars on my new mortgage (I’m buying a house) because my score is not over 740 like it used to be. Please help!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Casey – Sending you an email.

      • Donnazone

        I have a similar situation….I received a letter from my former cable company that my account was in danger of being put into collections. This is the FIRST AND ONLY notice that I received about the previous balance! I called the next day, paid the debt in full (plus a ‘convenience fee’) and found out a few weeks later that this was reported to the credit agencies as an unpaid collections account. My 720 dropped to 660. Do they have the legal right to screw up my credit without appropriate attempt to collect the original debt????

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It’s hard to say what the appropriate attempts are. Basically if you are delinquent it can be turned over to collections and I am not aware of any requirement that they notify you specifically before they do. (That’s not saying there aren’t any, but the FDCPA doesn’t address that.) I am not sure what you mean when you say the “first and only notice.” Were you not getting billing statements? Unaware that your account was delinquent? Who is the company?

    • Frederick Nance

      I always stay on top of my credit reports. I’m always sending “cease and desist” letters to creditors. Often times, a debt has been sold and i see it posted on my credit reports, i file a dispute and it’s removed within 30 days.

    • Debbie debtor

      If the debt I owe is say $100 and this is reported as the ‘high balance’ on my credit report, can the debt collector add their interest and fees and report it as the ‘balance’ on my credit report? The ‘balance’ reported is higher than the ‘high balance’ because they have added their fees. In the original contract I agreed to paying interest up to the amount allowed by law and reasonable attorney’s fees and collection expenses’. I never agreed that their fees were reasonable so it seems unfair for them to put this on my credit report. Is it legal?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Are you worried this is hurting your credit rating even more? It’s doubtful that it is–a collection account is negative anyway. Collection accounts simply don’t tend to report at the level of detail as other creditors, but nevertheless if it is inaccurate you do have the right to dispute it.

        • Debbie debtor

          I’m not so much worried about this hurting my credit rating but I was told that what they’re doing is technically wrong. A lawyer wants to file suit for violation of the Fair Trade Act because they didn’t report the correct amount. He see’s a pay day (for his legal fees). I’m wondering if he is right and if it is worth it to go to all this trouble. I’m happy to pay it and I’m not interested in collecting ‘damages’. Of course if this attorney is wrong and we lost the suit then I would end up having to pay their legal fees…

          • Gerri Detweiler

            I can’t make that call for you but if you aren’t interested in pursuing a legal case then it sounds like you’ve already answered your question…?

    • Debbie Lee Brown

      I bought a “steam cleaner” from Fingerhut in 2003. It doesn’t produce steam or actually even clean. I tried to return it and they wouldn’t take it back. I refused to pay for..and I just received another notice from an attorney about this debt. I live in AZ, and I thought there was a 7 year period in which they could collect..How can they still be coming after me after 12 years? And the original debt was only 300, now they have it all the way up to 3700?? help. I am disabled and just getting to an attorney’s office would be a problem. But I need to refinance my house, so I can still afford it, and this is getting in the way.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It seems very likely the statute of limitations has expired on this debt. It’s not the first time we’ve heard of a creditor or debt collector trying to collect on an old debt. Did the law firm serve you notice of legal action or are they just trying to collect? If it’s just a standard debt collection letter you could inform them in writing that the debt is too old and tell them not to contact you again. If they know you know your rights there’s a good chance they won’t pursue it. If, however, you are being served with notice of a lawsuit you need to talk with a consumer law attorney. This article may be of interest: How to Challenge a Debt Collector & Win

        • Debbie Lee Brown

          ty so much

    • Katy

      I’m in Texas and we choose electric providers to handle billing. When I switched companies last August I paid what I thought was the last bill. Three days later, there was one more bill for another 165 dollars. I thought it was a confirmation for the payment and didn’t look closely that there was more owed. (The company only allows online billing)

      Last week I received a collection letter. There was absolutely no contact in between. Final bill in August with a due date on delivery and then no follow up with late fees or anything. Is that legal? To stop notifying customers about a balance due? I would have paid it had there been a late notice.

      At this point the electric company will not talk to me and they direct me to the collection company. Do I pay this through the collection website or is there some recourse for filing a complaint for unfair billing. It’s not the money, but the principal. Bill me fairly and give me a chance to review it and I’ll pay. Ruin someone’s credit for an oversight, though?

      • Credit Experts

        There is no requirement that we are aware of for the company to notify you of an overdue balance. Chances are, the electric company sold the debt to a collection company, so the electric company no longer owns the debt. Paying the debt collection agency eliminates the chance of your being sued and getting a judgment against you. Continuing your otherwise good credit habits will help your score recover. Here’s more information:

        How to Rebuild Credit

    • Jonathan

      I have an auto loan with US Bank and they have perpetually changed policies and the interest amount charged on my account.
      I make substantial curtailment payments; however, they continuously apply them incorrectly and the interest amounts each month vary from $40 to $67. I am trying to make sense of it and each person I talk to at US Bank has to make corrections per my valid requests. Should I have to police a bank like this?
      Who monitors these lenders?
      Does this warrant a FTC investigation?
      Please advise.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or consider talking with a consumer law attorney. Visit the National Association of Consumer Advocates website if you need help finding one.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am not aware of any specific requirement that they send you a notice before sending a bill to collections. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t requirements to bill you; I am just not certain what they are. Looking into this.

    • sean

      I have a question i had tv cable and the bill got passed due i never set up any automatic payment now the collector took 340 dollars out of my account wih no consent are they in the right?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Unless you authorized the collector to take funds from your bank account they shouldn’t have done so. The only exception I can think of is if they got a court judgment against you and then were able to attach those funds. Have you checked your credit reports to see if there is a judgment on your reports? If not, and you didn’t give them permission to access your bank account then you may want to either file a complaint with the CFPB or consult a consumer law attorney as their actions may be illegal.

    • cody

      If a debt collector sent me a summons for a judgement but under my personal information my birthday they provided is wrong, can I dispute that debt. The summons they sent me is from the court and was delivered by the sheriff. If it’s the wrong personal info for me such as my birthday on a legal document what can I do?

    • debbie nicholas

      is there any kind of limit on how soon they can begin collections? I paid off a medical debt and four months after the visit they added a new amount to the bill and immediately began calling me to collect. The last one was full of threats for collections even though the amount was billed less than a month ago.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Not that we are aware of. If you are delinquent on a bill it may go to collections.

    • Cocobean

      I recently was contacted by phone, never received a letter, about a debt I apparently owe. I’m a student at Penn Foster. My mother signed me up for the class and I never signed anything to take the class or with regards to making payments. My mother got behind on payments and now it’s affecting my credit. How can I be legally responsible for this debt? I understand that I’m the student, but it doesn’t seem right if I never legally agreed to anything. Shouldn’t my mother be legally responsible? I live in Virginia and my mother lives in Colorado. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What age were you when this occurred?

    • CT

      My husband owed money to multiple creditors in 2007. He went into an agreement with a credit recovery place to repay his debts that year. In 2011, the credit recovery place sent him a letter saying that all of his debts had been paid. In 2013 a creditor froze and took all of the money out of his bank account saying that he owed them around $6,000 from 2007. They apparently bought the debt from someone else but no one can even tell him who it was originally from. He sent them his paper work to show that all of his old debts had been paid but they said, no, this one is different (but still wont say where this one originated from). The credit recovery place is absolutely NO help in all of this. What can my husband do? We are in Maryland.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If they froze his accounts then I assume there was already a judgment against him? Have you checked his credit reports to find out when the judgment was entered? This article goes into more detail about judgments: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

    • tkdnwwis .

      What is the statute of limitations on debt collection?

    • STC

      What do I do? Century Link sent me to collections for an additional bill they sent me after I cancelled services with them. I disputed it and the collections agency dropped the claim. Century Link sent the collection to a different collections agency I just found out checking my credit score, but haven’t received any notification from either company. How many times can Century Link send me to collections? How do I officially make this non-sense stop?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It sounds like you have a legitimate dispute and they shouldn’t keep reselling it to other collection agencies. Your other option would be to talk with a consumer law attorney.

    • Donna Hedgepeth

      I received a letter about a week ago, saying my state tax return was intercepted because I owe $2k to the state college. At first I didn’t remember it, as it happened nearly 30 years ago. I was never notified they would take my tax return. Finally they sent me a letter explaining the debt was a little over 700.00, and the interest is $1900.00. Can they do that? What recourse do I have.

    • Raul

      Hi We got 3 phones and 4 lines with t mobile on my social security number then we decide to move it to my sister social security number. We call them and ask Tmobile to make the change they said the only thing missing was for my sister to acknowledge an email from T mobile they send her 3 one for each phone but she only accepted 1 email thinking the other ones where replicates. They left 2 phone sin my account, I received a letter saying that I owed 1500 I called them to verify al was changed to my sister account. T mobile said yes they did, My brother in law did the same and they answer the same 2 months later i receive a call from a debth collector what are my options I need to maintain a good credit to buy a house :(??

      • Gerri Detweiler


        I’d love to be able to give you a definitive answer but this is a really confusing situation and I am guessing you don’t have written confirmation that the phone lines were terminated in your name, which makes it difficult to prove your side of the story.

        You always have the right to officially dispute a collection account and request verification within 30 days of their initial contact. If you do, we suggest you put your request in writing and send it by certified mail so you have a record of your dispute.

    • Brookie Dalka

      A debt collection agency sued and i called to set up payment arrangements they agreed and every three months they say i have to pay more or they will garnish my wages. what can I do?

      • Credit Experts

        Did you get the agreement for payment arrangements in writing? If they are threatening you, you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A collection agency cannot simply decide to garnish your wages. That would require a court order.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      At this point it’s a very old debt and it’s going to be difficult to prove who did what. If you really want to challenge it you could get an attorney involved and see whether you can sue her for credit damage in the hopes she would stop reporting it, or you can just wait it out.

    • Babsgarcia

      Question: How do the laws apply to these credit collection companies that ‘buy’ debt at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect the full amount? I’ve received conflicting information that a second party who bought the debt cannot collect (as you did not incur the debt with them) but a company who is working FOR the original debtor can. And if this is ture, how do you determine the difference?

      • Credit Experts

        It is not true. Either would be authorized to collect the debt. You can read more here: The Dos and Don’ts of Paying a Debt Collector

        • Babsgarcia

          Thank you. I’ll be sure to read it through!

    • Brittney

      OK I had a loan but it got sold to a collections agency. And that collection angency is saying if I don’t pay what they want me to pay them they will take me to court for fraud. Now I want to pay them off its just what there wanting is way out of my range. I paid the 90 already in the past 3 weeks but the want me to pay and other 80 tomarrow and 134 on the 29th of July i can’t do that

      • Credit Experts

        They are threatening to take you to court for fraud? Please consider submitting a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And keep careful records of when they call and what they tell you (or, you could ask them to contact you only in writing — failure to honor such a request is against federal law.) For more, see:
        The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

    • Phillip Oliver

      I informed my finance company to not call or contact only via email or certified letter only they were notified via email

    • Francisco Vallejo

      I took out an iPhone for my sister years back when the iPhone first came out. I then authorized her as a user so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything as far as getting her bills (biggest mistake), she then added her boyfriend at the time. They got different phone #s then she added her son about 2 years ago on the plan & stopped paying at some point and now owes $1238.58 in over due balance and affecting my credit now. She doesn’t want to pay, so how do I go about making her pay? Or what can I do??

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If I understand you correctly this debt is in your name. And if so you have to pay it or risk additional collection actions. (I assume you have closed the accounts or at least removed all those users from your phone so you won’t continue incurring more bills?)

        As far as collecting from your sister goes, you could take her to small claims court. But even if you win, you still have to collect from her. Do you think that’s likely? If not you may just need to cut your losses and chalk it up to experience.

    • Frances Tuthill

      My husband and I foolishly purchased Fiesta Adventure Club deeded timeshare. My husband arranged to have auto payments taken out of one of his credit cards. He got a call a few years back saying that he was in default because he missed a payment and his debt was being sent to a collections agency. We checked the credit card and realized they had issued a new card with a new expiration date. It did not occur to him to inform this company. My husband suffered a massive stroke in May 2015. In trying to consolidate some debt we called this credit card company. They said that since that one late payment, the $200 per month charged on his card was not from Fiesta Adventure Club, but a collections agency. Does that collection agency have the right to do that without our permission? My husband does not recall any correspondence regarding this matter. He gave them the new expiration date and thought that was the end of it.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Possibly. It may depend on the terms of the contract. You may want to file a complaint with the CFPB or talk with a consumer law attorney.

    • Nancy Cupp

      Unfortunately, I defaulted on a credit card I had (because of medical issues) and it has gone to a collection agency. I received the letter stating the account was going to collections. When I receive a call from this collection agency 1) the caller ID shows a false name. So far it’s said Tip Top Cleaners and CP Technology…neither of which is on the letter that I’d previously received. 2) They are still assessing a monthly late charge on a closed account. When I questioned them about that, the rep said that they were only representatives of the issuing bank and that it was them (the issuing bank) that was assessing that fee. Can they falsely misrepresent themselves using caller ID and I’m having a hard time with the late payments being added each month. It’s my bill and I plan to pay it back but I’ll never be able to pay it back if they keep tacking on charges!

    • Melanie Evans Woods

      I broke my lease with my former landlord in mid-April. I got a phone call about cleaning and damages two weeks later and the manager stated she would send me an itemized list. I never got one. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from a collection agency today about a $700+ bill from the apartment complex. I paid a $2038 early termination fee and $600 in deposits. Is it legal for them to send it directly to collections without notifying me? Should I get a lawyer? I paid them since I am in the middle of a security clearance process and this could jeopardize my clearance.

    • MalVax321

      I’m just curious to find out:

      How long must a company try to collect on a debt, before sending it to a collection agency?

      The company that I owe the money to hasn’t tried to call, or send any messages to collect, they simply sent it to a collection agency not even 2 weeks after I ended service with the company. Simply looking to see what legal actions can be taken against the company if this is illegal, or what needs to be done to get this off a credit report, etc…

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ronni – We just published an article about this. Great question and I hope you find the article helpful: Is a Debt Collector Allowed to Know My Medical History?

    • jennifermi

      I have a large bill that I cannot afford to pay at once. If I pay them money every month, even if it’s not as much as they want, are they still able to send me to a collection agency?

      • Credit Experts

        They still can, but there’s no guarantee that they actually would. Have you tried discussing it with them? We had a post that may answer your question: Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

    • Ryland Huyghue

      I have 7 years to get a debt removed from my credit report. If they sell it to a debt to a collector does that extend the 7 year period?

    • Navygal63ret

      My mother owes an outstanding electric bill from an old address at which I did not live with her. Later I moved into an apt she was leaving transferring the electric into my name. The electric company added my mothers outstanding bill to my account in my name saying that they know she is still living here, and until I can prove she is not that I will be responsible for her outstanding debt. They are taking 50% of the amount I pay on my bill and paying down my mother debt. So that I have to pay double the amount of my bill to receive the full credit for my payment. Is this legal? I am a single, working mother and this is causing a great financial hardship for me.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am going to email you.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I will email you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Debt collectors are not allowed to reveal information about a debt to a third party except a spouse or cosigner.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I asked California consumer protection attorney Robert Brennan about your question and he said that if he understands it correctly, “Once the husband “returns” the car, he has no legal right to further know what happens to the car. I presume he signed over title when he “returned” it. Once that happens, he loses his legal rights to find out what the dealer or the auction does with the car.”

      Does that answer your question?

    • Ms. V

      I visited CO back in April and later received a ticket from a private parking lot stating I owed $75 for “taking up 2 spaces”. I disputed as instructed, they in turn stated that there were many postings and it was upheld, I then asked for verification that it was my vehicle in turn they sent me 2 pics 1) just of the CO plate (rental car) and 2) a pic of the right wheel sitting on the line…all the 2nd pic could show you was a white car, no plate or anything to identify. I still disputed as I didn’t believe this was sufficient evidence to penalize me and have not heard from them since. What will happen next? My credit is awesome and I’d hate for a debt collection to screw it up! But I refuse to pay until they show me it was my car parked in two spots. Help!

      • Credit Experts

        If you do not pay, you do risk having the bill sent to collections, and a collections account will seriously damage your credit. Only you can decide whether you are willing to pay money you don’t feel you owe in order to protect your credit standing. See Can a Debt Collector Come After Me If I Never Got a Bill? for another story about a parking lot bill.

        • Ms. V

          Ok…let’s try this again because the article you just cited: 1) I read it last week, and 2) nowhere in the article does it talk about a parking lot bill like my story…it is talking about “parking” debt meaning the actual practice of delaying billing for collection purposes. So is it that the only way for me to dispute this is to let it hit my credit then dispute with the credit bureaus??

          • Credit Experts

            Ms. V —
            If the disputed parking lot bill does wind up in collections and on your credit reports it could drop your scores significantly. A recent settlement with 31 states’ attorneys generals means this type of debt probably shouldn’t hurt your credit. We write about that here: Why Kicking Debt Collectors Off of Your Credit Report Just Got Easier. So it would depend on whether you’re willing to take the chance that it could go on your credit reports as a collection.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      That sounds extremely high. I’d suggest you talk with a consumer protection attorney.

    • Karen Longworth

      a collection agency has told my daughter that 200.00 a month isnot enough on 12000 $ medical bill payment. They want her to either take a loan out. Witch she cannot .do. Because she bas nothing to use for collateral. If 200 is all sh can Afford dont they have to accept that?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        No they don’t have to accept what she can afford. But $200 a month on a $12,000 debt isn’t a great option for her either. If they are charging her interest (which they probably can and probably are) it could take her a decade to pay off this debt. She may be better off talking with a consumer bankruptcy attorney about getting a fresh start. Bankruptcy might be one option. Another might be to stop paying and save up money to settle the debt for less later. (But if she goes that route she should talk with the attorney as it is possible she could be sued.)

    • Alex Spira

      I received a call from a 3rd party agency telling me I have an unpaid debt of $900 from six years ago and they want me to pay now or they will call the sherif and have me arrested so fast it will make my head spin. I told them, I have not had that bank card since 2003 and have no idea what they are talking about. No statements have been sent to me. I called the collections dept of the banking institution and they do not have any accounts in the past from me. I told the collectors that I wanted proof that it is my debt and they said I don’t get proof. Either pay now or we’ll see you in court. I told them they were full of it and they hung up on me. So I am waiting for the summons because I want to know what this is all about.

    • Rex

      Are banks still allowed to sue you for a debt that was due more than 4 years ago? I searched something up called the California statue limitation and it said that after four years they cant sue you. Is that true? Also they havent sent any mail telling me to pay since 2011 and this was just a mail out of now where.

    • Jerry Lowery

      I had my car finance with a company I mistakenly paid them $1 less than I was suppose to for 48 payments (4 years). This amounted to $48. Now they want $800 extra dollars for that mistake. Never once during the life of the contract did they ever inform me of this mistake. Do I have a case against them.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Technically they may be allowed to charge you that but it sure doesn’t sound right. Have you filed a complaint with the CFPB? I’d suggest you start there and if that doesn’t work let us know.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      @Rose – it varies by state, but essentially your funds are at risk until the judgment is repaid. If it’s gotten to the point where you are being garnished I would really encourage you to get a free consultation with a consumer bankruptcy attorney who can explain your rights and options for putting this judgment behind you. You should be able to get a free or low-cost consultation. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys if you need help finding one.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s a great question and it’s something that is not spelled out specifically in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, so I can’t say with certainty how it should be reported. However, it does sound like this could be considered a duplicate of the same information which can sometimes be successfully disputed. I’d say it’s worth a shot at disputing it. If your dispute doesn’t fix it, you may want to try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Please read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    • Susan ross

      The statute of limitations to collect a debt is 4 years correct? Now does that 4 years start when ypu stop paying the debt and fall behind on payments? Or does the 4 years start when it goes to a collection agency?

    • Irene Martinez

      Long story short i stoppsd paying a credit card in 2011 because i was not able to pay. I have 5 kids and my husband is the only one who works. I tried negotiating with debt collector in 2014 unaware of the re-aging of debt. My original credit card holder put charge off in credit review and now i have a new bad credit review with collector who did not work with me and just served me…help!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Anytime someone is being sued for a debt I encourage them to at least meet with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. The first consultation is free or low cost and they can explain what will happen if you can’t pay and end up with a default judgment. In addition, debts are sometimes settled “on the courthouse steps.” Or you may have a defense against the lawsuit. Read: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

    • Kate217

      Is it legal for a collection agency to refuse a payment agreement? The creditor is in Virginia and I live in Maryland. I told the collector that I am currently out of work and my unemployment has run out and that I would call back when I get a job. He told me I have to find a way to borrow the money. I was very rude in return (something I strive not to be but he was so obnoxious). When it became clear that the conversation would not progress beyond “I have no money” “Well you’ll have to find some,” I finally just hung up on him.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        There is no federal law requiring collectors to accept what you can afford to pay unfortunately. It sounds like you need to preserve your cash for when you are back to work and if that’s the case, the collector will simply have to wait for payment.

        • Kate217

          That’s the conclusion I came to after doing some research. Thank you so much for your response.

    • Muzzy A

      I’m trying to pay off a medical debt that the collection agency sent to credit bureau. I’m asking them to send me an agreement stating that they will remove my account from credit report if I pay them but they refused to give me any written agreement. They are saying they will remove it but they won’t be able to give a guarantee on paper. Is it illegal? What can I do?

      • Credit Experts

        Muzzy A —
        It is odd. Collection agencies do not have to remove accurate information from your credit reports. Consumers sometimes ask for it, but some collection agencies have policies against it. If they will not give you a written guarantee, you can choose either to pay or not . . . knowing that if accurate information is reported despite what you were told, you probably won’t be able to get it removed. However, not paying risks being sued for the debt and having a judgment against you and potentially, garnished wages.

    • kevin

      Can a minor be sent to collections for a bill her parents did not pay?

      • Credit Experts

        It should not happen, no. In the best-case scenario, it’s a mistake, and it will be corrected once you provide information showing she was a minor.

        Is the minor now an adult? If so, you should dispute the bill both with the collector and with any credit bureaus that include it in the individual’s credit report. You’ll want to do this by mail, including a copy of the birth certificate, and noting that she was a minor at the time the debt was incurred. You can do the same with the collection agency.

    • Rachael Myers

      What can I do if my identity was stolen and the company where the fraud occurred won’t give me any information? They said I need a subpoena but from my understanding only police can get a subpoena and my detective refuses to get one. What are my rights when I can’t get any help in this?

      • Credit Experts

        Rachel —
        We’re not lawyers, and we cannot give you legal advice. If your identity was stolen, though, do report it to police (and clearly you have). Get copies of the police report and contact one of the credit bureaus to get a credit alert placed on your credit file. This post may be useful as well:
        What Should I Do If I’m a Victim Of Identity Theft

    • Jennie

      I have a question. I had 3 accounts in collections that were removed from my credit report in July and now I have a company contacting me attempting to collect money on the accounts. Do I speak to them and attempt to settle or not do anything. I don’t know if they are allowed to do this or not.

    • Janet Smith

      Can collection agencies report your delinquency to the credit unions/bureaus IF you are making payments on the debt?

    • Virgini

      I am on disability due to cancer, anxiety and depression. I checked my credit report and have one medical collections debt. If I am wanting to improve my credit score to finance a used car one day and not have a high interest rate, should I try to make payments on collection or is there a way to wave that when someone is on disability?

    • ai dudley

      how can you determine if the state you live in allows collectors to charge high fees. my son is being charged an extra 3000 for an outstanding college bill, that was only sent to collections in june?

      • Credit Experts

        Check with your state attorney general’s office. According to federal law, a collection agency may not “try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge.”

    • Minh Tien

      I just got call from a collection agency, staying that I owe some money and I need to take care of the loan. They told me the loan is from online lending company. I have no recall about having this loan. I ask them to provide the date of issue, loans amount and the account that this money was deposit into. They only can tell me the date was issued to me, and it were back in Nov 2010. And they don’t know the amount and the account that this money deposit into. And they told me I still owe them $700. This loan is over 4 years old, and what should I do or go about with this matter? I really don’t remember that I am having this loan. It’s a payday loan online they’re told me. Need help please!

      • Credit Experts

        Some of the “collectors” are scam artists, and before you pay anything, you need to be certain a) that you actually owe the money, and b) that they actually own the debt. Please do not let them scare or pressure you into paying. They should send you a WRITTEN “demand letter” via postal mail. You should also request what is called a “validation of the debt,” which would also be delivered in the mail. You can read more here:
        How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is
        The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

        • Minh Tien

          Thanks for the info.

      • Help Please

        I just has a call like this saying that I owe them around $700 and that it was from 2009. If I didn’t settle that I was going to have a garnishment against me. I asked for something in writing because I didn’t feel like I owed anything. He said the only thing that he could give me was the original Loan number and the amount. What Do I need to do?

    • Tihisha Berrian

      hello , i owe an apartment complex 3,931.45…just spoke with the collector and she told me that the lowest arrangement they would do is $100.00. OK that’s fine…i have no problem with that but they wanted me to make that payment this month, and i told them i couldn’t do it this month. but would be able to start that arrangement in September…she told no that’s not what the client wants so they would start the legal action …(garnishment). what can i do if i told her i can do the arrangement but cant start it this month but i could in September

    • Jewelzzer

      Can a debt collector continue to harass me, call me demeaning names, threaten to call me wife all via a text message since he has my cell phone number?

    • Marcus

      Can you be sent to collections if you are still paying on an account?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If you are in default yes.

    • Ald Cgw

      I settled a student loan debt back in 2009. This never showed on any reports when I bought my house or when I refinanced, as the loan was settled and I thought out of my life. Now I have a collections notice from National Collegiate Student Loan Trust for the same loan. What are my rights here? Everywhere I check it states how I can negotiate the amount, but I already settled back in 2009.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Do you have any proof that you settled it? Did you keep any documentation by chance?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      This is a tough one. You of course have the right to dispute a collection account when you receive the notice and I would definitely recommend you do so (in writing, certified mail). Even if you don’t have proof, if you remember any details about the settlement you may want to include those.

      If that doesn’t result in them backing down you may need to either get an attorney with experience in student loan law involved or try filing a complaint with the CFPB.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am lost – there is a judgement against you but you are not named in the lawsuit? In which state did this happen?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ugh. There are two routes you can go. One is to try to contact the court where the judgment was filed and see if they can provide information on trying to get it vacated. The other would be to talk with a consumer protection attorney about doing the same thing. Please read: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

    • Maddy Parker

      In June of this year, I saw a credit collection pop up on my credit report. I called and asked them about the debt. They said it was from a utility bill. I told them the bill had been paid off this past winter. So they asked me for a statement saying this. The previous collector that I paid off NEVER sent me any statements verifying the debt was paid. So the new collector asked me for my bank statements – which I dont have because I closed the account the payments were made through. The previous collector was paperless and used an online payment system, which no longer accepts any of my log in info so I cannot even access that.
      I told the new collectors that I want something IN WRITING mailed to me stating I owe this debt. Twice. It has been almost a month since I called and asked for it the second time.
      If they cannot provide this, can I dispute the debt or should I be contacting a lawyer?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Did the new collectors ever send you anything in writing? If they contacted you by phone and did not follow up in writing, that could be a violation of the FDCPA. I’d recommend you consult with an attorney who regularly handles those kinds of cases. They may be able to help you at no out of pocket cost to you. (Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help finding one.)

        • Maddy Parker

          The new collectors never even called me. I did not find out about them until it showed up as a past-due account on my credit report when I was trying to get a loan. I had to call THEM to find out what the account even was. Spoke with them twice and asked for documentation in writing.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Yes, you can dispute with the credit bureaus that are reporting it. Keep documentation. If they can’t verify the debt and keep reporting it, you may want to move onto steps 5&6 in this article: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    • amanda

      My husband had a vehicle repossessed in 2013, then the car was sold at auction, we got a notice of sale in Oct of 2013, then our remaining balance was 3600, the creditor charged off the debt in Dec of 2013. We just received a letter from a collection agency saying we owe 4900 because of accrued interest. This is the first time this collection agency has contacted us, and says we need to pay them in full in the next 30 days or they’re going to file a judgement and garnish my husband’s wages, basically I want to know if they can even do this.

      • Credit Experts

        They can sue you, but a judgment would come from a court. Wages cannot be garnished without a court order (which would follow a judgment). If they are threatening to do this without judicial involvement, we suggest that you submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Smt92

      I have disputed a debt with one collection agency, which was discontinued after review ( based on an error which the creditor made). The letter indicated that a deletion request would be submitted to the credit bureaus. 2 days after I received that letter I received a notice from ERC that they were collecting for the same debt. Is this common or legal?

      • Credit Experts

        Is it possible that the creditor’s error has not been communicated to the collector? It sounds as if dispute resolution and collection letter may have crossed in the mail. If that’s not the case, you may want to submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Heather ryan

      I had my daughter almost 2 years ago and we weren’t able to pay the medical bills, they have since gone to collections, we had a payment arrangement that was more than I could afford and we didn’t pay so we ended up getting our wages garnished. Now we are trying to make payment arragenments with the collection agency and they don’t seem to want to budge on the payment amount. they are asking for $300 a month… we are telling them we can’t afford that, that we couldn’t afford the $200 and we can afford $150 for now (meaning renegotiate in a few months for more if we can) but they are still not wanting to negotiate with us. What happens if we can’t come to an amount I can pay? Can they take us to court even though we are talking with them about this? I’m worried we wont be able to come up with a solution and my husbands check will be garnished again and we wont have enough money for our bills. Help!!!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Unfortunately they can still sue even though you’re trying to do the best you can. How much do you owe in total? Have you thought about talking with a bankruptcy attorney?

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