How to Defeat a Collection Agency

So you fell behind on your credit card payments. You are not alone. Due to this economy, late payments and credit card defaults on the rise. If you fall behind over 90 days, the credit card company will likely sell your debt to a collection agency. Collection agencies buy debts from credit card companies for pennies on the dollar. This means most of the money paid to collection agencies go straight to them.

Agents at these collection agencies are often very aggressive at pursuing these debts. This is because they get a commission based on how much money they can extort from the people they call.

If you are being harassed by a collection agency, you don't have to put up with it. You can fight back! The best way to do this is to dispute the debt. Even if the debt is yours, you can challenge the collection agency to prove they can legally collect the debt from you. Here is some easy, step by step instructions on how to proceed:

1. Obtain a copy of your credit report. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to get a free report from each of the credit bureaus once per year. Dispute the debt you want to challenge with the credit bureaus.

2. The collection agency has 30 days (45 days if you file a dispute online) from the time the credit bureau receives your dispute to respond. If they don't respond in time, the negative entry gets removed from your report. However, in most cases the collection agency will respond, and the negative account comes back as "verified". Due to the amount of disputes the credit bureaus receive, they use an automated system and do not do a full investigation. All the collection agency has to do is say "Yes, they do owe the debt", and the credit bureau will keep the negative entry in your report. This is not fair to consumers. The credit bureau and collection agencies hope that you will give up at this point. Don't quit now! Proceed to step 3.

3. Write the collection agency and let them know you dispute the debt. Ask them to provide copies of the contract signed by you, and ask them to provide a copy of the contract between them and the original creditor. Request they send you documentation on how they calculated the debt, and ask them to provide proof that they are licensed to collect in your state. Basically, you want to be as much of a pain in the rear to them as you can. Demand that they remove the negative listing from your credit report if they cannot comply. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested. This way you have proof that you sent this letter to them if you decide to sue at a later time.

4. Wait up to 30 days for a response. In most cases the collection agency will send you an account statement and hope that you go away. If the collection agency does not respond to your letter, or doesn't produce all the documents you requested, proceed to step 5.

5. File a complaint with your State Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission. Explain that the collection agency is in violation of the FDCPA by reporting your debt to the credit bureaus without properly validating it. The FTC won't get involved with individual complaints, but may fine a company if lots of people file grievances against a corporation. Your State Attorney General's office will either handle the complaint or forward it to the regulatory agency that deals with collection agencies.

6. Once a collection agency sees that your complaint is filed with these organizations, the vast majority of them will remove the listing from your report.  They would rather do that than risk being sued or being fined heavily.

If the collection agency still won't cooperate, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit against them. Use this as a last resort after you have exhausted all other options.

Collection agents are scumbags and their companies should be put out of business. If enough people fight against them, we can make that a reality.

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Comments 14 comments

Oscar Perez 7 years ago

My name is Oscar Perez and I am a Consumer Dispute Specialist, and with this at hand, you have my support. These collection laws need to change and protect the Consumer and not the collection agencies. They know how much they can push before it turns into a law suit. This is not right.We should not, and must not, accept this as the norm. Ammendments would made to enhance the laws. Its about time we all get together and start a petition for change in the collection laws. Next year is an election year.We need to take advantage of this. The collection agencies would get full payment if they would agree to delete the collection or collections off the Connsumer's File. They are not losing anything, nor is it costing them anything. Motivation makes things happen. This is not fuzzy math. Yet they want to keep the Consumer's Credit trashed, and collect full payment. Well this type of practice is not what our Great Country is made of. The time is now to make a stand. I am with you, and I am in the process to set up electronic signature petiton for an ammendment for the collection laws in Florida, and the Federal Laws. The squeaky wheels gets the grease. Lets do this. I am ready to rumble for change. My email address is oscar_perez76@yahoo.com and my website is wwww.onestopconsumerservices.com at yahoo search engine, and my cell number is, 386 - 232 -6337. Great changes have happened in our country, with ordinary people who had the resolve, and desire for change. We can do this. Oscar Perez Jr from Central Florida.


Debt Collector 6 years ago

I work for a respectable collection agency and have a different viewpoint as a result. When johngriggs stated, "Collection agents are scumbags and their companies should be put out of business.", it motivated me to post here today.

Although there are rogue agencies out there that do break the laws, there are also many respectable collection agencies who stay within the laws.

People who break contracts and don't pay for services rendered should have consequences for their poor decisions. If there were no consequences, our economy would collapse worse than it already has... way worse. Last year, collection agencies recovered approximately 1.4 billion dollars for United States businesses.

Respectable agencies should not be group with those few agencies breaking the laws. It is called "over generalization". We are a part of a checks and balances system that has been carefully constructed for the good of our nation. If you started a business and your clients were not paying you, you might have a different perspective.

The information you provided is good, but your opinion is extreme. Let me guess, you didn't pay some bills and a rogue collection agency harrassed you which formed a resentment?


johngriggs profile image

johngriggs 6 years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona Author

Oscar: I totally agree with you - it is not right that after debt collectors collect payment and it still leaves the consumers credit trashed. If they changed the way credit was reported, it would actually motivate people more to pay past due debts.

Debt Collector: Thanks for your input. I agree with the fact that if you borrow money, you should make an effort to pay it back. What I don't agree with is how collection agencies collect debt by harassing people and by charging outrageous fees. As you probably know, the collection agency pays 5 to 10 cents on the dollar for bad debt and then demands full payment from the consumer. This amount is usually twice the amount of the original debt, so whatever the collection agency collects is almost 100% profit. This is a big racket, and it is not right.

I really hope the collection agency you work for is ethical and follows the laws to the best of their ability. If that's the case, then that's great! However, I disagree with you that the majority of collection agencies are respectable and follow the laws. In many cases, when a consumer knows their rights or hires an attorney to defend themselves, the collection agency will fold. Unfortunately, many people don't take the time to do this. That is what collection agencies are counting on.


arterm 6 years ago

Agreed: "Collection agents are scumbags and their companies should be put out of business." it is obvious they are people that can't get real jobs.


Debtor 6 years ago

After reading what the people have said. I do feel as though people should fulfill their moral obligation once legitmate legal proof is presented to them from the Debt Collection Agency. I also believe people get into these sistuations because of job loss, a creditor over extends to them credit, etc. If a debtor is willing to pay their debt in full, then theres no reason why the Debt Collection Company should keep it on record, its embarssing enough to be reminded off! There are collection agencys who just want the debtor to continue having this on record, which is completely unfair!


Tommy 6 years ago

I just dealt with one of these agencies. I forced them to take me to small claims court, they filed against me. Then I challenged the debt and filed against the agency. Now the debt is $5000, less and I have payments which I can afford. They use strong arm tactics, i was even called retarded by one person and called stupid by another. I do believe that they need to be stopped. The judge had words for the agency and not me, he understands that people go through hardships and do not intentionally refuse to pay. It went well for me.


Transportation Collection Agency 6 years ago

Beware of the unprofessional collection agency....great post!


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Josie 4 years ago

I foreclosed the property, was forgiven by the 1st mortgage had a 1099 in 2010. The last payment I made on the 2nd mortgage was in Nov 2008. The loan was sold to a collection agency who is now harrasing me.my mistake is I answered the phone, talked to them & they offered me to settle it for $12k but i said I can only afford 3k. They slowly dropped the amount to 8k but they kept asking so many questions that I feel I should stop talking to them. It stresses me so much that I might be giving answers they can use against me. I earn enough right now but not to extent of paying the orig loan of 110k. I told them to validate the loan, but they asked me to email the orig creditor(Chase) that I am authorizing the collection agency to ask Chase to release my records. I did not email. I stopped answering their call. Yesterday they called my work & left message to call them back leaving their no. I told them before that I don't want them to call my work anymore. Lately they send me the URLA when I originally applied for that mortgage. Does this mean they have my Ioan docs? Will they be going for wage garnishing?I'm really stressed out, please advise. Thank you!


Matty 4 years ago

Zwicker and Associates went in and changed my credit report. They state they are attornies working for credit card companies, but I do not believe it for a minute. THey buy the debt for pennies and go after you. It is illegal to change dates and show bogus transactions made. Can you provide any informtain on illegal debt collectors?


Keith 4 years ago

I past my experience 90% of collection agencies will lie, cheat and steal to get money from you. My ex girlfriend lived with me for 2 years. I made 1 yes one of her payments and I was told that because a check was written from my account I was obligated for the debt. This is one of dozens of lies I have been told as she moved over seas and left a lot of debt. Our name are tied only through an address.

I have been told everything from I can be arrest (I laughed at the guy) to a sheriff will show up at my work for HER debt.

Again we lived together for 2 years. No common law. Most collectors are scum bags.

Keith


Tina 4 years ago

Having trouble with a collection agency now. Have ask them to prove the debt by sending me the signed contract and the recored of the the payments, I do not recall ever having this credit card or making a payment. The person who calls is now using his personal cell phone to call me, and has told me he cannot get the information the credit card company will no longer have it the debt is to old. I am going to try sending certifyed mail to them asking for the same info and see where that gets me. They are driving me bonkers.


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