Help with bills in collections

What is the best option if the bills have already gone into collections?

What is the best option if my bills have already gone into collections?

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There are definite rules and regulations regarding the handling of collection accounts by creditors and by the collection agencies themselves. The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act guarantees you specific rights as a consumer when a personal debt has been turned over to a debt collector. These include:

  • The right to stop them from contacting you except to notify you of specific actions being taken by writing them a letter requesting this.
  • The right to receive a full written notice explaining the amount you owe, to whom you owe it, and what action you should take if you believe you do not owe the money.
  • The right to sue in state or federal court, if you believe that the debt collector has violated the law in its handling of your account (within one year from the date that you believe the violation occurred).
  • If you have had an ongoing problem with a collection agency, you should probably contact the agency one more time to request a specific, written statement of their proof that you still owe on the debt. Insist that they also include instructions for disputing their statement if you do not believe you still owe the money, as the law requires.

You might also consider reporting the collection agency to your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Many states have their own debt collection laws in addition to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and your Attorney General's office can help you understand your specific rights.

For more information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, visit the FTC's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Web page.

If you are struggling to pay your debts, you may want to consult with a professional debt resolution firm to discuss the options available to you. If you want a free debt consultation with one of Bill's approved debt help partners, visit the Bills.com debt relief savings center.

I hope the information provided helps you Find. Learn. Save!

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

25 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Dec, 2010
    Jane
    my ex roommate and i ended our apt lease in bad term. i moved out a month and a half earlier than she did when i kept paying my rent till the end of the lease. recently i tried to apply for a credit card and got rejected. That's how i came to discover that the apt had put a collection of 1/2 of month rent on my credit report. i called the collection agency and they said we owe 1147 originally and now it's 1247 becuase of the interest. how much longer can they continue to charge interest on it. so my ex roommate and i tried to solve it by going into our former apt's leasing office. and the accountant gave us a ledger stating that we only own 473. so we paid it off right there. a week later, the collection agency attorney called me again said that the accountant made a mistake and we still owe the remaining of 700 something. i asked the apt to give us the new ledger they are looking at. and it's been couple days, i haven't received it. so there's not validation of debt. should i let them summon me to court and tell the judge? does that give me a better chance of wining this case? Thank you
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Dec, 2010
      Bill
      Take the facts you expressed here and add dates, times and names. Write a letter with this information to the collection agent. Explain that if they do not cease and desist in their collection efforts and remove the derogatory entry on your credit report, you will sue the collection agent in your state's small claims court for a declaratory judgment. If the collection agent does not comply, go your local courthouse, get the forms for filing a small claim, complete the form, and file them with the court according the court's instructions. Do not wait passively -- the derogatory on your credit report is harming you now and will continue to do so until you rectify it.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    These seem to be typical collection practices. However, this does not mean that they are legal or in compliance with the regulations set forth by the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). I encourage you to read an article I wrote that discusses Payday loans and the FDCPA. I think you may find more information here. With respect determining whether their behavior is legal, I encourage you to speak with a licensed attorney in your state.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Kelly
    I have several payday loans that I did from the internet, I had some medical bills and a wedding to pay for. I have learned my lesson....but I am currently working with Relief LLC and they have contacted all the payday lenders and now I have received 2 calls from collection agents, one was United Legal Services (all reps from there spoke with an accent and each number they called me from was a different number and when I call it back it says it's not a working number) this company wouldn't give me any loan details or anything, I do not recall doing a loan with them and they then in turn threatened legal action by having the cops come to my employment place and have me arrested and call my employer to inform them of everything. The other company Lighthouse Recovery Assoc. (LRA) called me three times and after I told them I was working with Relief LLC, they again were rude. The first company United Legal Services called me 20 times after I told them not to call me anymore and to call Relief LLC for payment arrangements. Are these practices legal in Michigan?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Bill
    Certainly. Get the agreement in writing and keep it and the receipt in a safe place.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    belinda
    i owe the bank 462.00 but they gave me a settlement of 246.00 so i decided to take it.the only thing that concerns me is that they want me to send the money western union cause i dont have account because of this situation.what i'am asking is that is it ok for me to send them money by a moneygraham or not?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    To answer your question accurately, I need to deconstruct your sentence. "Can a bank buy a charged off account..." Yes, anyone can. In most states you do not need a license, bond, or anything but cash to buy a collection account. It is rare for banks to buy a collection account, but yours is the second message I have received that implied as much. Now on to the second part of your question: "...and use just their name..." I do not know what you mean when you write, "and use just their name". Once a collection agent buys an account, they own the rights to that account. The owner of a collection account can telephone the debtor, send the debtor letters in an attempt to collect on the debt. Now on to the third part of your question: "...to collect or sue for collection?" Yes, the owner of a collection account may use the court system in your state to file a lawsuit as allowed under law.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Karen
    Can a bank buy a charged off account,and use just their name to collect or sue for collection?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Regarding your debt and collections question, see the Bills.com resource Collections Advice to learn more about the rights of creditors and debtors. I cannot answer your question about obtaining affordable health insurance. That is a question for our elected representatives in Washington D.C. to answer.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Virginia
    I am trying to get health insurance and was turned down because of high (LDL)cholesterol. I do have some savings and cd's etc.but no property.If I go in the hospital for something major and cannot pay the bills,can the hopsital seize my bank accounts ? Can they seize my wages ? I am mainly concerned with savings,etc.I want health insurance but cannot find an affordable policy due to the cholesterol. I live in S.C. What are the laws regarding thios in S.C. ?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Irene
    Thank you very much for your reply. I feel much more confident that I did before hearing from you!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    I hope you have documentation in the form of notes, correspondence, or bills regarding the $75. First, speak to the dentist about the $75 phantom charge. Ask him if it is worth your hiring a lawyer, filing a complaint with your local BBB, explaining your experience with his billing department on Yelp.com, and filing a complaint with the local DA over insurance fraud is really worth a $75 charge for services never rendered. If he or she really thinks charging you $75 for services you did not receive is a good idea, then by all means consult with an attorney to see if you have a cause of action for the attempted fraud against your insurance carrier, file a complaint with the BBB, write an accurate review on Yelp.com, and send a letter containing your experiences (including copies of your evidence) to the local DA. I doubt the DA will intervene on your behalf, but if it is the policy of your dentist to defraud all of his or her customers, the DA will investigate and possibly file charges. It is theoretically possible for the dentist to sell your account to a collection agent, but a $75 collection account is not worth most collection agent's time.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Irene
    When I had a wisdom tooth extracted, my dentist charged me a $75 fee that I was told by the office person was for "the Halcion". They did not provide the Halcion but gave me a prescription to take to the pharmacy to have filled at my expense for 3 Halcion pills. I questioned the charge and the office person then told me it was in case I did things like "throw up, fall on the floor, or flailed my arms and caused needle sticks". I did none of these things and sent the dentist a nice letter that since I did not do those things, would he please not charge me the $75 fee. His office person said the request was declined and that I was not to "dictate" how my account would be paid. I later found out from my insurance company that the charge was for oral sedation observance since I had taken Halcion. I told my insurance that nothing was done for the $75 - not vitals were taken, no additional time was spent in the chair, and absolutely no additional care of any sort was provided to me. I feel that this is a frivilous charge and the only way I can say no, its not acceptable is to not pay the $75 charge. So, now they're threatening collections. My husband and I are retired and have to watch expenses carefully anyhow, so to be charged a fee just because they can and not because they provided anything extra does not seem right. Are they likely to take me to court over $75? Thank you for any insight you can provide.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Diana
    I am delinquent on a credit card account, which has been turned over to a collection agency. Their tactics are aggressive--when they couldn't reach me (I was out of town for a family death), they called neighbors, telling them they needed to reach me for an urgent matter. I live in New York--is this tactic legal? Thank you in advance for the info.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Bill
    I would consider the conduct you described as prohibited under the The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You may have a cause of action (a sound legal basis for a lawsuit) and you may want to consider consulting with an attorney licensed in New York who has experienced in consumer law to discuss your options for filing a lawsuit against the collection agent. See the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) Web site for a list of consumer rights attorneys in your state.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    Absent an agreement to the contrary, all medical services are payable in full. Unless there is law in your state to the contrary, medical service providers are not required to offer payment plans, but the smart ones do. See the article Debt Negotiation and Settlement Advice to learn tactics and strategies for dealing with creditors.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Candy
    I have been currently placed with a collection agency over several medical bills, which they have consolidated. They are insisting on payment in full, telling me they will take me to court if I don't pay it in full. I asked if we could set it up on $100.00 payments per month and they told me no. They said they don't accept payments, they have to have it paid in full. Is this legal?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    In general, it's a good idea to get a workout plan or a forbearance in writing. Contact the first representative and ask him or her to put the plan you two have agreed upon in writing, and send it to you. That way, if you have a difficulty with the left hand, you have a note from the right hand explaining what has been agreed to.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    tasy
    I am deliquent in my car payments and was being contacted by few people with different numbers. I started working with a representative specified as working for WFB which would work with me if immediate funds of 125.00 were sent by money monogram to halt the charge off process. I did what was requested and have since made a full car payment in good faith before the 30 day period required. Within about 9 days of the initial money gram I started receiving calls from another number/department saying the first rep was no longer handling my account. I contacted the intial rep with whom the agreement had been worked out and she stated to keep working with her and make the next full payment as scheduled. However, the second rep called the day after I had went into a local branch with the full monthly payment stating that the bank would be returning my payment unless the full 150 day late portion could be paid or the vehicle must be turned in. This is beginning to appear fishy to me since the story is changing now that I've begun to comply and continue to get a bank note in the mail. Please advise. THANK YOU
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Bill
    First, you need to determine the statute of limitations (SoL) for collecting debt in your state. See the Bills.com State Consumer Protection Laws and Exemptions to determine if a court in your state will enforce a judgment on debt this old. If the SoL in your state has not passed on the debt, ask the creditor (the law firm, in this case) to send a debt validation. Oftentimes, when a debt is sold from one firm to another, the actual proof of the debt is lost. See the Bills.com Debt Self-Help Center for sample letters to send to the creditor. Finally, if the SoL has not passed and the creditor has proof of the debt, you can negotiate the balance. See the article Debt Negotiation and Settlement Advice to learn tactics and strategies for dealing with creditors.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2009
    Jerry
    I received a call from a New Jersey law office saying I owe more than $10K to Nation's Bank, which is no longer in existence. I was offered to settle this account in 1999 for $1,600. I replied to Nation's Bank saying that I would accept this offer and asked them how I could pay it. I never heard back from them. In 2007 our apartment was flooded with sewer backup and most of our valuables, including paerworks, were destroyed. Now this legal firm offers to settle for $4,000 only for the next 24 hours. Since I haven't heard from anyone for over 9 years, and have not worked for over 3 years, I can not afford this $4,000. What can I do< Thank you. Jerry Miller
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2009
    Bill
    Social Security benefits, pension payments, and many other types of income for the elderly and disabled are exempt from garnishment, which means that most elderly Americans do not need to fear wage garnishment if they are unable to pay their bills. However, it is very important that if you have other funds -- such as money you saved on your own, an inheritance, or lightning struck and you won the lottery -- to NOT commingle your other money with the retirement income. If you do have other funds, put them in another account. Alternatively, you may want to open a new account when you start receiving the retirement benefit and have that income be deposited directly into that account only. That way, if a creditor receives a garnishment order, it will be clear to your bank that they should not seize the contents of this retirement-income account. To learn more about wage garnishments in your state, see this page http://www.bcsalliance.com/y_debt_statelaws_garnishments.html
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2009
    belle
    My mom just recieved a summons for unpaid debt for 1,000,she just got out from the hospital due to pancreatitis, 69 years old,recieving her $400/month direct deposit,this is the only money she's depending for her needs,will that be garnished?how could we protect her bank account from being levied? Her account is citibank,please give me the steps obviously she cant pay that debt.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2007
    nithinj
    You should definitely insist on paperwork. You should also obtain a copy of your credit report to see what other items may be effecting your credit. You can get a free copy of your credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com All states have a body of statutes in their codes of law called, “Limitations of Actions,” commonly referred to as the statutes of limitations. The length of time a creditor has to sue you depends on your state of residence and the type of debt. Check out http://www.bcsalliance.com/y_debt_sol.html This site has more information about statutes of limitations and a list of limitations by state.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2007
    Carlo
    A collection agency contacted me (via my brother who lives in another state), telling me that I owe $ 52.21 for a telephone bill who was unpaid since 1997. Now, that's more than ten years ago. I don't remember at all this bill and when I asked the person of the collection agency to send me some kind of paper work she insisted that I don't need it and suggested that I pay the bill immediately. Is there a statue of limitation by which their request is invalid since "they" never contacted me during these past 10 years and a half? Obviously is a matter of principle, but I would like to know how to proceed in this matter. Please advice. Thank you so much. Carlo Carnevali
    0 Votes