Debt Self-Help Center

Bills.com Team
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Highlights


  • Pull your credit report regularly to identify any errors.
  • Dispute an inaccurate debt amount with a debt dispute letter.
  • Stop collection calls with a cease and desist letter.
4.5
/5.0
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Tools & Knowledge to Get Debt-Free on Your Own

We created this Debt Portal to help you solve debt problems, from validation letters to credit repair forms. Bills.com’s “Debt Do It Yourself Center” will put you in the driver’s seat to solve your debt problems on your own for free.

Disputing a Debt with a Collector

Under Federal law, you have the right to request documentation proving that you actually owe the debt being claimed by a collector. If you have any doubts as to the validity of a debt being asked to pay, you can dispute the debt in writing (this process is also called “requesting validation”). Once you have notified the collection agency of your dispute, it is required to cease all collection activity until it has responded to your request by providing documentary evidence, such as a signed credit agreement, demonstrating that you are the person who is responsible for the debt. Below are three letters which you can use to help you in disputing your debt with a collection agency.

The following sample letters are PDF-formatted files. Your browser or mobile device will need a PDF reader to view the files.

Debt Dispute Letter

If you receive a call or letter from a collection agency for a debt that you don’t think you owe, you can send the agency this letter to put it on notice that you dispute the validity of the debt and that you are demanding that the agency provide proof that you are responsible for paying it.

download

Notice of Insufficient Validation

Frequently, collectors will respond to a request for validation with nothing more than a computer printout of the balance owed. Generally speaking, this is not sufficient proof of the debt. If you receive a response to the first letter which you think is insufficient, you can use this letter to put the creditor on notice that it has not satisfied its obligations to provide proof of the debt.

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Failure to Validate Debt

If you do not receive a response to your debt dispute letter within a reasonable time (usually 30-60 days), or if the creditor continues its collection efforts without validating the debt, you can use this letter to notify the collector that it is legally required to stop its collection activity against you. Having sent the debt dispute, and following up with this letter, may put you in a better position if the creditor refuses to stop its collection efforts and you are forced to file a complaint with the FTC, your state Attorney General’s office, or even to file a lawsuit against the collector for violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).

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Debt Settlement Offer Letter

If you work out a debt settlement on the telephone with an original creditor or collection agent, and want to reduce your agreement down to the written word, send the person you negotiated your agreement with the following letter. See the Bills.com article Settlement Letter to learn the eight terms and conditions that should appear in a debt settlement letter.

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Cease and Desist (C&D) Letters

Here are four letters you may use if you wish to stop a debt collector or other lender from contacting you, or from making ACH withdrawals from your accounts.

Federal law, the FDCPA specifically, requires debt collectors to stop calling you if you make such a request in writing. However, this rule applies to third-party debt collectors, and not necessarily to original creditors. Some states have their own version of the FDCPA, which extends this rule to original creditors. For example, if you owe money to CitiBank, and CitiBank calls you, a cease-and-desist letter may not stop these calls. Also, many creditors will abide by such requests, not because they are legally required to do so in all states, but because they do not want to violate the law in error and want to maintain a positive public image.

Cease Communication Notice

The Cease Communication Demand letter is a general letter designed to stop all collection calls.

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Work Harassment Letter

This letter is specifically targeted to collectors who call you at work, which are a particular problem, as some collectors will make multiple calls to a consumer’s workplace in an effort to shame or irritate the consumer into paying the debt. Use these letters sparingly and only when needed; there is no need to send a cease communication demand to every collector who calls, but you should know you have this option if a collector’s calls become harassing or abusive.

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Expired Statute of Limitations

Download and adapt this letter if a collection agent contacts you in an attempt to collect a debt on an account that is time-barred by your state’s statute of limitations.

download

Revoke ACH Payments

Use this letter to revoke a lender or other business from using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system to make withdrawals from your checking or other financial account.

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Credit Repair – Dispute Listing

We strongly encourage consumers to pull a copy of their credit reports from all three major U.S. credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — at least once each year. It is important that you review your credit reports on a regular basis, as credit reports can be inaccurate and contain derogatory information about accounts for which you have no responsibility. This erroneous information can cost you thousands of dollars in the form of higher interest rates and reduced access to lower-cost forms of credit. Reviewing your reports will also help you find if you are the victim of identity theft, as you will be able to see if any large credit transactions have taken place about which you were unaware. If you find any erroneous or surprising information on your credit reports, you have the right under federal law (the Fair Credit Reporting Act) to dispute the debt. You may order copies of your credit reports, free of charge, through AnnualCreditReport.com.

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141 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Mar, 2013
    Robert
    Can a Debt Collection agency hold and refuse to cash checks? Can they refuse to show us their policy on payments? My wife has a small debt less than $500 in collections that she has been paying on, but her hours at work have been cut. She was working 160 hours a month and now she works around 70 hours a month. She was paying $50 a month now she is is sending them $10 a month.

    The Collection agency is holding her checks for January and February because they say the amounts do not meet their policy for minimum payments. The Collection agency called back within five minutes -- it was a different lady this time. My wife asked for a copy of the policy on minimum payments and told there was no policy and they do not have a payment plan (My wife was making payments last year and they cashed the checks), and demanded that my wife come in to the office and pick up the two checks she sent them and pay the full amount right now!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2013
      Bill
      Read the Bills.com resource, If I Pay a Small Amount on My Debt, Can I Be Sued? to learn the basic rules for the type of situation you described.

      If your wife has a contract with the collection agent to pay $50 per month, and then later starts making smaller payments, she is in default of her contract with the collection agent. At that point, the collection agent can refuse to accept the payment, and demand she pay-off the debt immediately.

      However, if she made no promise, in other words formed no contract with the collection agent, then she is not in violation of any contract with the collection agent. You wife should consult with a lawyer who has consumer law experience in her state of residence to learn more about her rights and liabilities. If she cannot afford a lawyer, call your county bar association to learn the names of organizations in your area that provide no-cost legal advice to people with low and no income. Make an appointment with one of these organizations, and bring all of the documents you can find regarding the debt. The lawyer your wife meets with will explain her rights, liabilities, and options.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2013
    Shika
    This informatio​n is wonderful and I will further educate myself on this website for the purpose of cleaning my credit. However, I have a few questions; should a collection agency provide all of the documentat​ion requested using these letters, what steps would I take next to get the debt off of my report? Also, can these letters be used for judgment debts or is there a different process for this type of debt? I have received some medical bills; however, they do not show up on my credit report, but I am receiving bills from collection agencies. Would I use these letters for this type of debt as well? What do I do if after I have sent the Harassment Letter to the collection agencies and I am still receiving these calls routinely? If the collection agency does not respond to any of these letters that I send, how do I go about the process of reporting by way of the Fair Credit Act and getting in touch of my Attorney General's Office to begin litigation​? Thanks in advance for your guidance!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2013
      Bill
      Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), most accurate derogatory information may appear on a consumer's credit report for 7 years after the date of first delinquency, and some information can appear for a longer period of time. Bankruptcies, for example, can appear for 10 years. You mentioned a judgment. A judgment can appear for 7 years, or your state's statute of limitations for a judgment (and for any period for which it can legally be renewed), whichever is longer. See the hyperlink I mentioned in my first sentence here to learn more about your rights and liabilities under the FCRA.

      Regarding the sample letters on the Bills.com Debt Do It Yourself page, they are general-purpose letters and can be used for judgments. Again, as mentioned, the consumer credit reporting agencies are not obligated to remove accurate derogatory notations from a consumer's credit report.

      You mentioned debts that are not appearing on your credit reports. First, keep in mind there are three major consumer credit reporting agencies in the US — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and the three may publish different information about you. One may publish Medical Debt A, but not B or C; the second may report Medical Debt B, but not A or C; and the third may report Medical Debt A, B and C. The appearance or non-appearance of a debt on one of your credit reports does not determine if you have legal liability for the debt. Think of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion as specialized newspapers. An event appearing or not appearing in your local newspaper does not mean the event did or did not happen.

      When an original creditor or collection agent contacts you to collect a delinquent debt, validate the debt immediately. Follow the instructions on the page I just mentioned to validate a debt properly. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience if you believe a collection agent has violated the FCRA or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You do not need to file a complaint with your state attorney general before you file a lawsuit against a collection agent.

      Find your state attorney general's complaint form by entering your state name and attorney general into your favorite search engine. All state attorney general Web sites have an online form or PDF you can download and print to file a complaint.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Anne
    I am in terrible financial trouble after being out of work sick for 1.5 years. I'm back at work however, in the interim I had neglected to pay one of my credit cards and after a short while forgot all about it! Eventually it was brought to my attention by a nasty collection agency who has sold the account/amount to another collection agency who is harassing my place of employment! The original amount was for $3,600 and now they are trying to collect $5,000! There seems to be no negotiating anything with these people. The bank/original credit card company has nothing to do with this since they sent it off to collections. I don't have the $5K and would be willing to make a payment arrangement but they will not hear of it! What should I do?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2013
      Bill
      See the Bills.com article Debt Settlement Advice to learn tips and techniques for negotiating with a stubborn collection agent. Keep in mind that although the collection agent has the legal right to collect the face value of the debt, it bought your collection account for about 8 cents on the dollar. Here, that means it paid between $288 to $400 for your collection account. Even if it accepts $500 or $600 as a settlement offer from you, it's earning a healthy return on its investment.

      If the collection agent continues negotiate hardball-style, then work with a debt settlement company or lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2013
    Jami
    I have a T-Mobile bill from when I was 20. I am now 32 and it recently has shown up on my credit report as a new debt. I thought the statue of limitations were up on this and it is now with a foreign third-party company, which was the one who reposted it. Is this legal? I thought it was illegal to repost something this old as a NEW debt?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2013
      Bill
      A delinquency like the one you described may appear on a credit report for up to 7 years from the date of first delinquency. This rule is spelled out in a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If, as you suggest, the date of first delinquency was 12 years ago, the collection agency is violating the FCRA by reporting the debt as current. File a dispute with each of the consumer credit reporting agencies that are publishing this error.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2013
    Sharon
    I had two payday loans:
    • $200: I paid 6 payments of $79 and
    • $300: I paid 6 payments of $105

    I have paid more than the first installment plus the 10% that Florida payday loan law requires but they refuse to stop taking payments out. The $200 loan has collected a total of $474 so far and the $300 one has collected $525. I just changed my checking account and know that now I will be receiving harassing phone calls. What is my next step?

    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2013
      Bill
      Contact the Florida Attorney General and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and file complaints with both offices. See the Bills.com resources Florida Payday Loans and Payday Loan Laws State By State to learn more, including contact information.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2012
    dario
    I had Internet service and home phone service with ATT, which waved the cost of the modem and the activation fee. In addition, the cost of my home phone service without any features at all was about $12.00 per month. I changed the phone number because of too many harassing calls from salesmen. ATT agree it wouldn't charge me anything for the change. Then the next bill was for over $173.oo for the Internet service and over $41.00 for the phone servicee. i complained to ATT, but it wouldn't budge so I had both services disconnected. ATT gave the matter to a Collection Agency in retaliation asking for the $41.17 for changing my phone number, and I have been receiving letters from the Collection Agency demanding payment of the $41.17. I have not answered any of the letters. In contrast, ATT sent me, and my bank collected, a refund check. Any relief from the collection agency? Do you think that gigantic ATT would take me to court for such small amount? Your comments are greatly appreciated.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2012
      Bill
      AT&T may not decide to file an action against you, but if AT&T sells your collection account to a collection agent, it's possible the collection agent may decide to do so. Your best course of action is to swallow your pride and pay AT&T the amount due before this dispute impacts your credit score negatively.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2012
    vicki
    I had a payday loan back in 2007 and did not get paid at the specified time. Stopped payment due to no money and in the payday loan trap. OUCH-what a nightmare. Any way I did finally pay all back. And for one I received a settlement letter to pay 140.00 of 542 in March of 2010,so I did and never had another correspondence from them until Feb of this year a collection agency called me about it. I told them I did not pay but unfortunately I no longer had any proof,so I faxed them a letter requesting that they no longer call me but to send all correspondence through regular mail. Again I heard nothing until today I receive another call from another collection agency stating that I have 2 days to pay or they will submit to the courts. I found the date and letter of the settlement offer but I cannot find anything to prove I paid. I just thought was all settled because I never heard. I settled all of them. Do I have any leg to stand on here. It has not hit my credit report in any way -- that is another reason why I thought I settled. Please advise.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2012
      Bill
      Contact your bank or credit union to see if it has a record of a payment to the collection agent that is near in time to your settlement agreement.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2012
    daniel
    I had a credit card back in 2006 with a limit of $200, and got closed on Nov-Dec 2006. My TransUnion credit report says it will be dropped on 2013, which is more or less 7 years from the date of first delinquency. The balance shown on the report is more than $1,000. Should I negotiate a "pay-for-delete" now? Also, a collection agency reports the same debt in a different amount, very different from the original $200, it says placed in collection in 01/2009, to be dropped on 08/2013. Is it OK for both to be on the report although both are the same debt?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2012
      Bill
      A pay-for-delete has the most impact on your credit score when the collection account is relatively young. This is because recent delinquencies are weighed more heavily than delinquencies that are about to fall off a credit report.

      It is common for one debt to appear several times on a credit report as the collection account is passed from creditor to creditor. This is not illegal under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It should be, in my humble opinion, because this practice may mislead creditors who glance at a report and mistakenly conclude a consumer has a half-dozen or more delinquencies when it is really just one collection account that has passed through many hands.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2012
    Mike
    Hi: I recently sent a validation letter to a collections agency, and they didn't give me all the requested documentation to validate the debt. I then sent them a failure to validate debt letter (about a month ago). This charge just showed up on my credit report, and the agency says they will not remove it because they believe it is valid (again they haven't given me the documentation to prove it). What is the next step I should take? Should I file a complaint with FTC? Should I hire an attorney? Thank you very much for your help!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2012
      Bill
      Please see the Bills.com resource Debt Validation, and specifically the section "What is Proper Validation?" to learn how little evidence US federal courts require creditors to present to consumers.

      If the creditor did not meet the very low threshold of documentation necessary to validate the debt, filing a complaint with the FTC would be a good first step. The FTC may not provide you with any immediate relief, but if enough people file similar complaints about this collection agent, the FTC will launch an investigation.

      A good second step is consulting with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience. He or she will review the facts, and advise you if you have a good cause of action against the creditor for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2012
    Joshua
    I co-signed on a motorcycle with my ex-wife back in 2008 and this past December she casually tells me that it's been repossessed. I have been working hard to square away all my debt and then this happens. I never got a call or ANY communication from the creditor (or her) about the delinquency of the account. Is there any way I can dispute this repossession?
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2012
      Bill
      While you are within your rights to dispute anything that appears on your credit report, accurate information will remain. Though it is not fair that you did not get any notice, as a responsible party to the loan, the repossession and late payment history will not be removed by disputing. You can choose to make a statement that will be included on your credit report. You can also submit a letter of explanation to any lender that questions why this appears on your report.

      Remember, in addition to the damage to your credit, you are subject to collection efforts for any balance that remains.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Russ
    It's been almost seven years since my first delinquency on five credit cards all equaling less than $10K. If I settle with the companies now, will it improve my credit score enough? Or should I wait until it's been 8 years and demand they be removed from my score?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Under the FCRA, most derogatory accounts are removed 7 years after the first date of delinquency. There is no way to legally remover a negative accurate account from your credit report. See the Bills.com resource Short Sale, Foreclosure & Your Credit Score to learn more about the time-to-recovery on FICO scores.

      My advice?
      • Wait until after each of the accounts you mentioned rolls off your credit report. As each one rolls off, negotiate a settlement to resolve the debts permanently. Start your negotiations at 10 cents on the dollar.
      • Monitor your credit report to make sure an unscrupulous collection agent does not attempt to re-age an account to keep it on your credit report.
      • Focus on creating positive activity on your credit report. In other words, pay your debts on time, and keep your account utilization low. (Do not max-out any credit cards you may have.)
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Amanda
    Hey Bill, we are trying to resolved/figure out what to do about a debt to Wells Fargo that was recently sent to a debt collector. The issue we are having is that the debt is for the remaining loss on a repossessed vehicle, that was wrongly repossessed. My husband had been missing payments (this was before we were married), but then enlisted in the military. Prior to leaving for basic training, he talked with a Wells Fargo representative and informed him that he was leaving for the military. Under SCRA policy, military members cannot have vehicles repossessed, and are also granted a maximum of a 6% interest rate. His car was repossessed a few days after he left for training, and the amount still owed since has been incurring a very high rate of interest. My question is, is this debt even valid? The amount that the collection agency is attempting to collect is more that it should be because of the high interest rate, if they should even be collecting at all because of the wrongful repossession. Thank you so much!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Your spouse should consult with his unit's JAG office about this apparent violation of the SCRA.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Daryan
    Good Afternoon Bill: I recently sent a Debt Validation letter to the creditor handling my account. They sent back information saying I owe one amount, let's call X and say I owe Y. However, none of the papers they sent me describe how I owe the amount Y. Should I send a failure to validate response or a pay for delete letter on the amount X?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      If you owe a creditor money then a debt validation letter is not necessary. You should start your negotiations for less than what you owe. If the company is asking for more than you believe you owe, then demand a detailed accounting of your bill. Often there are many late fees and charges added on.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Mike
    I recently contacted a collection agency to verify a debt. They couldn't verify the debt, so it was removed from my credit report. Then, a few weeks later, I get another letter from a different collection agency trying to collect the same debt. Can they do this? Should I send another verification letter? Thanks!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Yes, send another debt validation letter. Repeat this step for all future collection agencies that buy your collection account.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Rick
    What use is pay for delete? I understand the newest "thing" in American business, is to buy charged off, or partially paid off bills for pennies on the dollar, and then harass the heck out of the "debtor" for these old debts, whether valid or not. My question is, what about "pay to pull" agreements, where the debtor charges off the debt, if the debtor pays an agreed to lower amount. What keeps THESE from being sold to debt collectors at some future date?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      Read carefully any contract. However, there is no legal way to remove accurate negative information on your credit report before the time frame, usually 7 years, as set down by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

      Let's say you borrow $100 from me to tide you over to your next payday. When payday rolls around, you say, "Bill, I can give you $95. It's all I can afford. Will you accept that to square our deal?" If I say, "Yes, sure, $95 is fine," I cannot return to you in six months and say, "Hey, what about the $5 you owe me?" We reached what is called in law an accord and satisfaction for the debt. My expecting another $5 is contrary to our accord and satisfaction for the debt.

      It would not surprise me unscrupulous debt collectors would buy and sell settled debt. However, the fact such a market exists does not make the previously settled debts valid or void their settlement agreements.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Di
    I was initially contacted by a debt collector re a debt that's not mine (borrower has the same name but everything else is wrong), I made the error of speaking to them trying to clear things up, and leaked some personal information. They somehow got a hold of my SSN (I only gave them the last four digit once trying to show them that I am not the borrower), and even though they have finally realized their mistake and stopped contacting me, they have reported this wrong debt to my credit report already (only Equifax). The same person who bought that debt also borrowed from another company, now both debt are on my credit report. I have spoke to representatives from both companies directly, and both verified that they can not find an account under my SSN, yet when I disputed the charge with Equifax, Equifax came back and said all information is verified correctly - SSN, birthday, address, everything. My question is, what do I do next? How can they verify my information when the people I talked to do not have an account under my SSN? The creditor said I need to dispute with them directly, but I am afraid to send in any information in fear that they might falsified the debt and really put it on me now, any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciate it.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      You face two issues:
      1. Legal liability for the debt
      2. The credit reporting agencies reporting false information

      You seem to have evidence in the form of statements and perhaps documents from the original creditor and/or collection agents indicating you are not the debtor they are looking for. Keep in mind this is a separate issue from your second issue.

      Your second issue is tougher. Essentially, the credit reporting agencies have no oversight. When a credit reporting agency publishes incorrect information about a consumer, that consumer can file a dispute with the agency. However, if the credit reporting agency does not believe the consumer, the consumer has only two options — grin and bear it or consult with a lawyer to file a lawsuit for libel against the credit reporting agency.

      Here, you mentioned the original creditor agreed to help you sort out this mess, but you are concerned it will use your personal contact information to further perpetuate this case of mistaken identity. I suggest you consult with a lawyer to help you draft a letter to the original creditor, with a CC to the legal departments of the credit reporting agencies asking all parties to remove the incorrect information from your credit report. Ask your lawyer to include gentle, but firm language in the letter explaining that if this matter is not resolved fairly you will have no choice but to review your options for filing an action against the creditor and the credit reporting agency for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

      In the meantime, file a complaint with the FTC. This may not result in immediate relief to you, but if enough people complain about the credit reporting agency's behavior, the FTC may take action.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Kristina
    Original creditor (HSBC) charges off account. They sold account to another company (MCM). Both are on credit file reporting as A charge off. Is this legal since it the same account being Reported twice?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      What you described should not be allowed by the FCRA, but it is. Dispute the earlier derogatory.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Emilia
      Why delete the older one (HSBC) & not the newer one (MCM)? If the clock is ticking on the debt being removed from your credit report within a certain time frame, wouldn't you want it to start ticking at the start of the first debt??
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Bill
      The older creditor (HSBC), has no right to collect the debt, and will most likely not respond when the consumer disputes the derogatory with the credit reporting agencies. However, if HSBC is the original creditor, it may respond.

      The clock ticking you referred to is, I infer, the 7½-year clock that determines how long a debt can appear on a credit report. Under the FCRA the 7½-year clock starts at the date of first delinquency, and not any other date. The date of first delinquency is when the payment was due, but never arrived. The date of first delinquency is not any of the following:
      • Write-off date
      • First report to the credit reporting agencies
      • Sale or assignment of debt to collection agent
      • Settlement date

      The original creditor and collection agencies may report the date of these events to the credit reporting agencies, but none of the events mentioned in our list restart the 7½-year clock.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Stephanie
    Hi Bill! We really appreciate your site. My husband and I are just able to start the settlement process after being delinquent for 2 years. Most of the accounts have been assigned to collection companies. There are about 5 accounts we are trying to settle with larger balances (ranging from $3,000 -$11,000). Most of them have made a settlement offer of %50 off. One, (the $11,000 debt) has made an offer of about %70 off. We plan to use your "Pay for Delete" form. Is this a good place to start? At what percentage should we make our offer for? How reasonable are collection companies with deleting accounts when an offer is on the table? If the collection company agrees to deleting the debt, will I still have the report from the Original Debtor (i.e. American Express) prior to them selling the debt to the collection department? We would appreciate any help you could give us in this process. Thank you.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      There is no set percentage that creditors agree to settle delinquent accounts. The settlement offers you are receiving seem reasonable. 70% off of an $11,000 debt is quite good. A general rule is to start low in a negotiation, as you can always increase your offer.

      Remember, negative accounts fall off your credit report after 7 years (for most accounts) from the first date of delinquency. There is no legal way to remove an accurate negative account before its time.

      If the debt has been sold to a third-party collector, the original creditor can continue to show the account as $0 balance and charged-off for 7 years from the time of first delinquency.
      2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Becky
    I just looked at my credit reports and there are several entries that are re-aged debt collector entries. The original accounts are on there too and are due to be dropped next year. What can I do to get the re-aged entries off of my report?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      To get the re-aged entries off your report, you will want to dispute those entries. I recommend that you read the Bills.com article re-aging debt. You will find useful information as well as instructions on how to dispute those items.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Mario
    Hi Bill, i am writing to you today because I have an issue with my Loan Servicer BofA, as many do...I am trying to have my loand modified ,but i have been denied do to the fact that I received a partial loan over a year agao and denied me because they state that carculating the partial claim I owe them more than twelve consectutive months. When I originally started the modification which was back in Nov. 2011 I read a clause on the back of a letter that i recieved from BofA third party vendor who picked up all of the modification docs, which stated that I had 30 days from receipt of the to dispute in writing my balance in which they would need to provide original load creditor information, etc. I recived from them only statements which I can easly pull up on they web. They failed to provide validation of the debt. in responce to BofA not giving me justifiable reson that i was 12 consecutive payments behind and felt that I was wrongfully being denied. I reported them to the BBB as well District Attorney's office. I received a response from them very soon there after. They have still failed to provide me with accurate account back up on loan balance as well have not provided original loan creditor/investor...they did provide me with a letter stating my investor was Ginnie Mae (GNMA) in which I looked up and they are not investors, but a Mortgage -backed security company (MBS)? I was looking through the blogs on your website one of the bloggers had similar issue with BofA but she was like 30k in the hole with them. You suggested that she looked for an attorney who could file a quiet title action?? I'm only one month behind on my mortgage but was 4 months behind in the past in which they have a my account the the process to intent to foreclose on my property if not brought current. My question to you is do you have any tips or process in which I can use to deal with these folks? Thank you.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      We stand by our advice to the other Bills.com reader you mentioned. If you cannot coax your mortgage servicer to give you in the information you want or need, or you believe the mortgage servicer is not negotiating in good faith, then you need to level the playing field by hiring a lawyer.

      Consult with a lawyer immediately as there may be deadlines and time limits relevant to your situation.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Kelli
    A collector called and asked for me by my maiden name and spoke to my husband not me. he asked if this i was the one that lived at an address we lived at 3 years ago. this debt was from at least 10 years ago.for an online school. no one has tried to contact me by phone or letter for the last 10years about this debt. he also told me i owe over 500 dollars but if i paid it now i could pay half price and be done with it...(huh?) if i owe why would they be asking me for half? my husband told the guy i would call him back but i wanted to find out what to say to him first. i dont recall oweing them i remember telling them i want to cancel and they told me how much i had to finish paying and i thought i did but it was sooo long ago i dont know and i no longer have the inital payment arrangement contract. would the collector have this information and the date the "debt" started so i can try the statute of limitations.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Trust your memory. Validate the debt. A debt that cannot be validated may not be reported to the credit reporting agencies, nor be collected.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2012
    Kiersten
    I received a collection notice on behalf of the County Clerk of Court for a debt that occured in 2003. It is apparently a court fee that was originally deferred. I sent the request for validation today, but I am wondering if a statute of limitation applies to this type of debt. I called the collection agency to dispute that it belongs to me and mentioned SOL. They said it does not pertain to court fees. I couldn't find anything that directly confirmed or disproved that statement. I appreciate any answer you can give.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has civil litigation experience to learn how courts in your state have decided the issue of court fees and statutes of limitation.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Maury
    Hi there. I have been dealing with a collections agency since last March. Once I received the first collection letter, I asked for debt validation. However, I never received any type of debt validation and, instead, continued to receive typical collection statements. During this time, I never spoke to anyone on the phone (in fact my preference has been not to), only sent three subsequent letters. Throughout the year, phone calls ensued. Today, I received a message on my phone and, it was weird, the person left a message but it was as if he was speaking to someone at his office. And, done purposefully. The message was something long the lines of "the legal department looked at the account, and they want to sue this debtor." I do understand that under FTC, statements are prohibited involving law suites, etc. What should I do. I can send them another letter...Let me know your thoughts!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      You should speak with an attorney who specializes in violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. This type of attorney will not charge you a fee, but get his or her fee from the collection agency that is wronging you, if the attorney feels that your case is a winner.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Holly
    Bill, I received notice of a delinquent account which was sent to a collection agency on December 15, 2010. I requested debt validation within the 30 day period. They sent me some information (a breakdown of charges and the first page of a contract I signed with the original creditor) which I do not feel is sufficient validation. I did not discover your web site and helpful info until after I requested validation and subsequently paid a portion of the debt. I've since checked my credit report and have found the derogatory report of said account. I sent the CA a request for delete to which they responded saying "To maintain the integrity of those files (credit reports), we do not instruct those agencies to delete account information once an account is paid.". They wrote that they will notify the credit agencies when the account has been paid and then I could write a statement explaining why I paid my account late to be inserted into my credit file. What should my next action be? Should I request debt validation again? -Holly, North Carolina
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Holly
      I don't understand your reponse of "Trust your memory". Please clarify.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Did you repay the loan according to the terms you agreed to, or according to a later settlement contract that resolved the debt for an amount less than the full balance? If your memory tells you the answers to those questions is "yes," then the caller is a Fake Debt Collector and is trying to defraud you. If, however, you remember not completing a payment plan, then you know there is some merit to the caller's claim.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Holly
      I paid an arbitrary amount which I came up with in hopes that they would take it and forgive the rest of the debt. Needless to say they did not accept the amount as "full payment" or a "settlement amount". I understand that by paying some of the debt I have possibly inadvertantly admitted that the debt is in fact valid. So what now?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      By making the payment, you waived any claim you could make that the debt was invalid, and reset any statute of limitations that applied to the debt. What now? Negotiate a settlement of the debt with the collection agent.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Javier
    Hi Bill, After some re-search on your site I still have a small doubt I would like to ask.I have 3 collections that I currently have and my concern is that if I do Debt Validation, will it give the collection agency the right to start the debt over again since I am contacting them in writing or use it against me? thank you much for all your help and info you have provided to us consumers, greatly appreciate it.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Requesting debt validation in the proper manner does not restart the clock on your debt. You just need to make sure that the letter you send in no way acknowledges your responsibility for the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Barry
    Hello, I just got a call from a collector about a credit card which was closed in 1997. I live in Florida. Should I send a no contact letter.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Jarod
    Bill, I have good credit with no collections or any derogatory information. I was contacted through mail from a collection agency stating that I have a past due bill for $200 from the state utility company from 2001. At first I thought it was a fraud attempt because this bill has never been on my credit report and I am very diligent about paying all bills. They then called me and verified a past address that I lived at during that time. I have sent them the above validation letter even though it is not within the 30 day timetable they requested. My understanding is that because this bill is beyond the state of NH SOL and well beyond the 7.5 years that they can report it to my credit report that there is no reason for me to actually pay this debt even if they verify it a valid debt. They are offering me a settlement for $100, based on all my research there is no downside to me sending them a cease and desist letter stating that there is no legal action they can take and reporting this the credit agency is a violation of the FCRA and could result in fines. Do you have any other advice for me on this matter? thank you in advance for any response.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Another bit of law may apply here, too — your state's public utilities regulations. You mentioned New Hampshire. Consult with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to learn if there is a time limit on New Hampshire utilities discovering billing errors. My guess, note that word choice, is there is such a limit. I say that because other states have these limits.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Jason
    I have had a debt with a creditor for a few years now. There was a serious problem with the transaction that could not be worked out by corporate. Now a CA is pursing this is a NJ Supreme Court. The original value is only about $1200.00. Probably not worth the problem now. I have some money to pay off the debt but would really loathe to pay the full value on principal. I offered the CA last year to pay half without accepting responsibility for the debt if they removed the credit listing. They did not get back to me with something signed on their letterhead but rather a faxed sheet stating the CA would remove their listing and not the original creditors charge back. The filing is dated 01-06-2012 and it states I can attempt to settle with the listed lawyer. Is there anything I should attempt before calling this lawyer to settle with him. Don't feel I have the time to submit all these anymore before the court date.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Derrick
    HELLO Bill my name is Derrick I have four items on my credit report that have been paid off but they remain on my credit report as paid but i was wondering if I can get these items completely removed from my credit report.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Negative items fall off your credit report, in general, 7 years after the first date of delinquency. I recommend that you concentrate on building up your credit score by making your payments on time and taking out credit that you can pay off each month.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Derrick
      If I wanted to do it on my own what steps would I need to take, that's if I'm able to do it on my own.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Derrick, the basic process is described on the article about credit repair that I linked to in my reply to your previous comment.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Tiffani
    Hi Bill, I have disputed a few items on my credit report. I received letters from credit reporting agency's stating that the creditors couldn't validate the debt. I then contacted the creditors to ask to have the items removed from my credit and they are saying that I need to provide them with a copy of my Id and SScard in order to have these items removed. Sending in a copy of my sscard and id seems scketchy. What should i do?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Did you provide your Social Security number to the creditors when you applied for these accounts? If so, you have nothing to lose in sending copies of this information because they already have it. My guess is the cat, so to speak, is already out of the bag.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Ali
    I had my car insurance policy and when I cancelled the agency sent me a bill on Dec 22nd that I had a balance to pay. I called on the 3rd of Jan to see if I can pay on the 16th of Jan and customer service said yes I had 30 days. To my surprise I received a letter from credit collections today that I owe the balance. My question is if I pay within the 30 days of validation will I be reported to the credit bureaus? Also should I pay the original creditor or the collection company. Thank you!
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      Given that the original creditor told you it expected payment in 30 days, and then sold or assigned the debt to a collection agent about 15 days into that 30-day period, it would be purely guesswork on my part to make any observation about how your creditor will behave.

      Generally speaking, payment within 30 days of invoice is considered current, and payment on day 29 would not generate a derogatory on a credit report. Pay the original creditor, and keep accurate and complete records of the payment.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    Roblyn
    I have an ex-wife that used to have custody of our son and I had custody of our two daughters. During the divorce we had court papers drawn up that she was responsible for 100% of our son's uncovered medical expenses (because she used to take him all the time to make me pay, since I watch my credit really well). I was responsible for 100% of all of our daughter's expenses. In 2007 or 2008 she took our son to several doctors, which I knew nothing about, and of course didn't pay the bill. I found out about the debt in 2009 when I received a letter from a collection agency. I immediately called them and told them I was not legally responsible and they said I had to put it in writing. I requested copies of the medical bills and again stated I was not responsible and even included a copy of the court order stating I was not responsible. They ignored me and reported it to my credit. I have talked to them several times about this and they said it is legal for them to report this on my credit because both parents are equally responsible for children's medical bills no matter what court papers say, and as a collection agency they don't have to abide by our court papers. This is wrecking my credit and they keep reporting it over and over. To give you an idea they reported it 3/11, 5/11, 6/11, 12/11, and again today. They have never sent me proof of the medical bill, but even if they did I have court papers stating that I don't owe it. What can I do?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      A divorce decree applies to the two ex-spouses, but not third parties. The collection agent's response was accurate on two counts: He or she is not subject to the judge's order, and in most states, parents are legally responsible for the medical costs of their children.

      Consult with your lawyer and ask what remedy you have regarding receiving reimbursement from your ex-spouse.

      My advice? If your credit score is your paramount concern, then negotiate a settlement agreement with the collection agent. Then deal with the reimbursement issue later.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Roblyn
      I tried that last year. The agent said they couldn't do that. I asked to speak to the manager and she told me that they can't take something off my credit, but they could mark it as paid. I told her that was not good enough since I legally shouldn't owe this at all. I had no idea he went to the doctor. I was not given a chance to pay the bill (nor notified about it) before it went on my credit report. And they will not remove it if I agree to pay my ex's bill. Now what can I do?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      I suggest that you verify the debt. You should also speak to a lawyer regarding your responsibilities to pay, and possible recourse against your ex-spouse. If you are not legally responsible, then dispute the debt; however, I recommend that you clarify the issue with your lawyer.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2012
    donna
    I have a medical bill on one of my credit reports and I wrote to them 2 yrs. ago asking for proof that I owe this bill. I have had no response. I did dispute it on my credit report but it remains. I have another one on all three of my credit reports. I have also disputed this to no avail. I found out last week that this second bill has been reassigned to a new collector so evidently the sol starts all over? I phoned them and they stated it did not matter that I had never received a bill for this, I still owed for it. (The bill is from 2005). I lived in FL and moved from there in 2007. I asked them to send me the bill and gave them a fax number. They only have my address from 2005. I have not received a fax so I am not sure what to do about this as it is keeping my credit scores down. I have no knowledge of these bill (I keep all my records for income tax purposes) and have no idea what they are for. What can I do to clean this up?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2012
      Bill
      The statute of limitations does not start over, unless you make a payment, or do some action which acknowledges the debt. The statute of limitation for unsecured debt in Florida is 5 years, unless a court judgment has been issued, in which case the Florida SOL for judgments applies, which is 20 years.

      If a new collector is contacting you then I suggest that you read the Bills.com article about validating a debt.

      An old debt should have minimal impact on your credit score, as recent account activity is more important to your score than older activity. The more time that passes, the less weight the old derogatory mark on your credit report carries. Remember, the main criteria for good credit are making timely payments and not using more than 30% of your available credit. For more information about credit scores read the Bills.com article about bad credit.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    sheri
    On my credit report I have a entry that has the creditor also the collection agency that bought debt. Who do I call to come negotiate the payment in exchange for debt deletion the original creditor or the collection agency.Would I be expecting both entries to leave my report or one of them? I also have a bill up there that was joint myself and husband. I was supposed to have been removed from bill and my husband filed bankruptcies. I found later they never removed my name and now that debt is on my report. How can I have that removed now?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      The credit report will reflect both current and non-active trade lines. Therefore, it is normal to see both your original creditor and the new collection agency listed on a credit report. This is also true regarding an old debt in which your name was removed.

      If someone demands you pay a debt you feel does not exist, then validate the debt.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Katey
    Hi Bill! Love your site! I've used the forms in the DIY section and I must say they are working. However nothing has come off my credit report yet and it's almost been 60 days. Is there anything else I can do to speed up the process? They are unable to verify my debt and I've sent the failure to validate letters. Should I just hold my horses and give it some more time or should I pursue other actions? Thank you so much for all of your knowledge you have given us. I'm incredibly thankful.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      You may have asked your question a bit too soon. The consumer credit reporting agencies seem to be consistently lethargic when updating consumers' credit reports. Expect to wait 60-90 days, which they call a "reporting cycle," before seeing a change to your report. The exception for this is a process called rapid rescore, which accelerates the process.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Jamie
    Hi Bill, I recently got a notice in the mail about a debt I supposedly owe. So I sent a verification letter to them with certification and tracking to see the time it was delivered to start the clock. I used your verification example from the site. On the letter is states a request for no communication at my residence or place of employment while the debt is verified. So today I got a hostile call from the collector on my cell phone. How they got the number I don't know. In any case, the person on the phone said that they didn't have to comply with the letter or the FDCPA because they are not a collection agency. This threw me for a loop as I thought that anyone collecting a "debt" from a contract must comply with the FDCPA. I'm at a loss as to how to handle this. The collector was very hostile. Jamie K.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Whether people collecting debts call themselves doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs does not matter under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — behavior matters. There are exceptions for original creditors under certain circumstances, but generally speaking, an original creditor is concerned about preserving a positive relationship with a customer, and will not use obnoxious or aggressive techniques to collect a debt.

      Explain to the caller they will violate federal law if they continue to call you on your cell phone.

      You may be dealing with a fake debt collector.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Jamie
      The agent had a southern accent. In any case I involved my lawyer on this one. This debt is nine years old and makes me wonder why they would bother to attempt to collect on such an old debt. The agent also stated that despite both parties being in California, the contract said that the laws of Illinois are what govern the SOL as I attempted to invoke it. I don't have a clue as the whether or not it's true since I no longer have a copy of said contract and I'm certain that that was an attempt to coerce payment.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Jamie
      So, this collector is the real McCoy. I was sent a copy of the contract and another form letter with it demanding payment. They seemed to have ignored the rest of the validation letter. I am now going to send a stop communication letter and hand it off to my Attorney.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Nancy
    Hi Bill, On July 11, 2011 I received a Debt Validation Notice from Bank of America for my mortgage. I have been on 3 different trial modifications since January 2010. The DVN stated I owed $20K more than my on-line transaction history and mailed statements show. Long story short, I sent a certified letter disputing the amount. I received a response, dated July 22, 2011, that BOA would get back to me with a complete response within 20 business days. That did not happen. After many, many phone calls I got a rep that told me my debt had been reduced by $10K, as I was paying trial payments...but I did not make $10K in payments in the time period from the notice to the time I spoke with this rep. I told her I need the complete details, in writing, of the additional fees and/or charges in the additional $10K they say I owe. The rep told me she could only send a copy of my transaction history. I told her I could see my transaction history on-line and it did not contain any information on additional fee and/or charges. She is send "what she can" and we'll see what it contains. Nothing like the requirements I see on the FTC website. After reading the FTC website referencing Debt Validation, I believe BOA is in violation for not providing me the information and further telling me they can't send me the details and that they continued to collect payments from me...including another payment after I already made the 3 payments for my current trial that was to be only 3 months. They said I could be rejected for a MHA modification if I didn't continue to pay. I asked they send me a written letter stating I needed to continue make payments and they refused to do so. Are am correct in my belief that BOA must send me a detailed explanation of the additional amount they say I owe, above what my current principle balance shows, and they could not continue to collect payments until they validated my debt? They have made many, many errors on my account over the last 22 months. And when I brought up all the issues in an email to Barbara Desoer they sent me a RESPA letter to which I never received a written response from within or after the 60 business day requirement. Any information you can provide is most appreciated. Nancy B
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in filing quiet title actions. This specialty in law is relatively new, and is a result of several factors, including
      1. The bubble bursting in residential real estate prices
      2. Mortgage servicers relying on Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS)
      3. Mortgage servicers taking shortcuts on processing foreclosures
      4. Bank of America purchasing Countrywide, which continues to be a nightmare
      5. Other decisions that mortgage servicers and investors now regret

      I realize you were seeking a more fact- and analysis-rich answer tailored to your situation. However, my guess — note that word choice — is that Bank of America does not possess or otherwise cannot find all of the documentation for your loan that is necessary to give you a straight answer about your account. In other words, the incomplete and mixed signals Bank of America sends you may mean you won the mortgage lottery. A quiet title action will force Bank of America to put all of its relevant documentation into evidence, which may not be enough to show it can foreclose or hold you personally liable for the loan. As I mentioned at the beginning of this reply, find a lawyer to discuss a quiet title action.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Ashley
    I am not sure there can be anything done. I lost my job about 5-6 years ago. My credit cards went to collections, late payments, etc. I took settlements and everything was settled for less than amount owned in agreement by both parties once I got a job again (a little over 4 years ago). So now I am trying to buy a house and obviously my credit rating was hurt bad. However, I do think it is affecting it more than it should. I am not sure if all these lates are true. Can I dispute any of it without real proof? Can I get some of this fixed. If I can get my score up another 20-40 points it would make a HUGE difference! I have rebuilt it with nothing negative on it the last 3-4 years since settlements, but until Feb I really had nothing building it either.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      You have the burden of proof backwards. The consumer is not supposed to prove what appears on a credit report is false, the Fair Credit Reporting Act states, in effect, that creditors are supposed to prove that what appears is true. Dispute what you think are incorrect entries on your credit report. Use the sample documents you find on this page as starting points to dispute the incorrect derogatories.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Veronica
    I have one debt that started at $900 I got a statement from the collection agency & paid $100. I assumed the following month I would get another statement but I didn't, instead I got a call telling me to make a payment. I said I would need a statement sent to me as I don't just send checks out without a bill or statement attached, they said they don't send out statements, within 2 days I had a statement in hand and again, made a $100 payment. My debt is down to $500 and again, nothing was sent but I got another call and so on. This last call was the same, the we don't send out statements line was mentioned again and they said I am obviously not interested in paying my debt and they hung up. Two days later(today) I got a statement, again I am paying another $100. I am making attempts on my side to pay this off but they seem more interested in taking this to court as this last statement said i have 10 days or else. What can I do about this?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Create your own statement that indicates what you expect is the current balance. Make a payment each month with your own statement. When you reach the final month, create a statement that indicates the debt is settled, and the account should read zero.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Ryanne
    I am being harassed by a very crooked law firm that was hired by a collection agency for a very old credit card. I knew about these letters and have used them before, however this time the lawyer has already sent the case to court. They were sending their letters to the wrong address and so I never received them. Since I never responded to their letters, they took it to court saying that I have failed to comply and I was served with papers. How do I handle this situation? Can I still send them a validation letter? Will that cease the court proceedings until they can provide validation? Thank you very much.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Civil procedure law is designed to make litigation fair for both parties. If one side is not notifying the other side according to that state's civil procedure law, the court can dismiss the entire case and recommend the offending lawyer be punished. However, most consumers have no inkling of their state's civil procedure rules, and what to do if an opposing lawyer does not follow them.

      Level the playing field. Hire your own lawyer who has experience in consumer law or civil litigation. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call your county bar association and ask for the names of the organizations in your area that provide no-cost legal services to people with low or no income. Make an appointment with that organization, and bring all of the documents relating to your debt and garnishment to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will advise you accordingly.

      A debt validation letter will not put a court case on hold.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    ann
    I am paying an old school loan that was sent to a collections agency, the problem I have is that my brother was a co-signer and it has affected his credit as well.I paid a portion of the loan as a down payment and now I am paying a monthly amount. I was wondering if I can still send a letter of deletion if I decide to pay the amount in full in the next coming months.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Your best strategy may be to negotiate with the lender, explaining that you are struggling to make the payments, but are trying to get a loan from family to pay off the debt in full. Your creditor is obligated to maintain accurate records of your debt. Your negative activity falls off your credit report 7 years (for most debt) from the first date of delinquency.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Carlos
    My wife's credit card with Chase was closed and sold to Equitable Ascent Financial as per written notification from EAF. Then EAF assigned for collection to CI creditors Interchange for two months and then a new collection company Creditors Interchange is collecting on it.

    My wife's credit report shows 3 derogatory items: a credit card from Chase, Collection for the same credit card and a Medical collection. I want to try to repair her credit but a I am not sure how to handle it.
    • I can only afford about $100 to $130 per month for the credit card per month
    • What shall I ask the collection company for?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Collection agents buy collection accounts for pennies on the dollar. Consider this strategy: Save what you can over several months. ("Several" may be "many" depending on the balance due.) When you have a lump sum saved, contact the collection agent and negotiate a final settlement. Start negotiations at 15 cents on the dollar. You may have to go as high as 60 cents on the dollar depending on the policies of the collection agent.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Mitch
    I have several credit card debts that the SOL has been met but I am still getting calls and letters. If I send them a letter agreeing to pay a portion for them to remove the negative from my credit report will that start the SOL again and if not will the original debt and delinquency be removed or just the collection agency portion? Thanks so much!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Unless you reside in Wisconsin, the creditor may continue to attempt to collect the debt from you after the statute of limitations has passed. Your negative items will stay on your credit report for the full 7 year period.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Mitch
      No I live in California. I know that they can continue to collect the debt they just can not receive a judgment against me. Will there attempts to collect go off of my credit report as well in 7.5 years from the date of the last payment? Also my original question regarding the pay for delete if it would remove the lates from both the original debt and the debt collector if I pay it. I have the means to pay it now and I do owe it but just don't want to restart the SOL. Thanks so much!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      A creditor can receive a judgment after the statute of limitations has passed on a debt if the defendant does not raise a statute of limitations affirmative defense in a timely manner.

      Negotiating a settlement to a debt does not reset the statute of limitations on a debt automatically. However, the consumer must take care when negotiating the debt to not acknowledge responsibility for the debt. Do not say, "my debt" but instead use language like, "the collection account you attribute to me," and so on.

      Negotiating a settlement does not reset the FCRA 7-year rule. The clock on the 7-year rule starts at the date of first delinquency. No other date is significant, despite what some misguided or misleading collection agents may claim.

      Don't expect your negative items to fall off your credit report before the end of the 7 years.

      Collection agents buy collection accounts for pennies on the dollar. Start your negotiations at 10 to 15 cents on the dollar and work from there until you reach a settlement that includes a pay for delete agreement.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Scott
    I have been dealing with an issue for about 6 years now. I went through a bad divorce where the courts allowed my name to be forged and fraud that allowed several thousand of dollars to be stolen from me. With the concern of what all that my name has been forged on, I have asked validation of items that appear to be invalid on my credit report. I have one creditor who without giving me any validation garnished my wages twice. Even after the garnishment, nothing changed on my credit report. It appears that they are attempting once again. The last time I was able to get a judge to dismiss the case, however, they still send threatening letters. Thank you for your assistance.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Scott
      Is there anything that I can do in this situation instead of having my wages garnished every other year for nonthing that is shown to me as what the debt is? Thank you
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer who has consumer law experience to learn about your rights and liabilities in your situation. Ask if the judgment can be vacated due to improper service of process, and so on.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Holly
    My question is that a debt collector has called me in reference to a debt that I believe I payed over 6 yrs ago. They say it is my responibility to show proof. Is that correct? I live in Ohio and the debt itself is over 10 yrs old any info you could provide would be appreciated.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Don't pay a penny, until you find out more. The first step you should take is to validate the debt.

      Your debt may have expired, due to the statute of limitations, but it depends on what kind of debt it is and when your last payment was made. SOL issues are state specific. Please read about Ohio collection laws.

      It is a good idea, in general, to keep your financial records for seven years. It may not be required that you prove you pay the debt, but things would be easier if you could do so.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    lory
    What does derogatory mean and how do you get it off your credit report? And can you get charged off bad debt off your report.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Derogatory is another word for 'bad.' In credit terms, it refers to late payments, liens, judgments, foreclosures, repossessions, defaults, etc. Derogatory information falls off on its own, 7½ years after the first delinquency.

      It can be possible to get derogatory information off, if the debt has been paid. Read up on credit repair.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Charles
    The last 3 months since I took out a home loan for improvements, I have been getting letters & calls for old debt. The company is ERS (ER solutions). One debt is from 1996 Mervyn's card that the company went bankrupt but its from the collection company that Mervyn's sent it to.The other is from a bottle water company which is from 2003. I told Mervyn's that is over 10 years and the company went bankrupt. then then when I said I have no idea about water one(totally forgot about moved to FL) they said its new. I know its from California and was in 2003. I'm sending the letter of validation. Isn't the time out for these companies to claim on them?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      I can't give you legal advice, but will share a few thoughts.

      ERS is a large debt collection agency. From what you wrote, the debts are passed the SOL. You're doing the right thing by validating the debt. Send a cease and desist letter, too, to stop the calls. If the collection efforts do not cease, contact an attorney. Know your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and don't let a third-party debt collector harass you.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Raman
    I settled a debt with the internal collection agency of American Express by 60% off. Now, on my credit report, it's shown "settled" and I was wondering if there is a way to have that removed? What kind of advice would you suggest? Thanks
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Thanks for the question Raman. "Settled" is the common term used by banks, collection agencies and consequently reporting bureaus for any account that was resolved for less than the full principal balance. You could have negotiated with the collection agency to instead list the account as "settled in full" or "closed" or even "paid in full." However, since the status is an accurate update you don't have a lot of legal options. I would recommend that you search for our review of lexington law credit repair, as you may find credit restoration to be a viable investment for you.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Raman
    I owe around $1,500 to an apartment I rented in 2009 which is currently with a debt collection agency. The debt is verified and I directly contacted the creditor itself (the apartment complex) and agreed to pay in full. Their reply is that I need to get a hold of the collection agency and pay them instead. I already have one "settlement" on my credit and don't want another one. Please advise?! Thanks
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Simply because you pay in full through the collection agency (the proxy for your creditor) does not mean that they have to list on your credit report that you "settled" the debt.

      In fact, in your actual agreement to pay, make sure that you list in a signed agreement that in exchange for accepting full payment that they will accurately list the debt as "paid in full" or even ask for them to re-age the account and list it as never delinquent. Don't release payment until you get them to sign a document with these terms.

      Good luck.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Dawn
    I have recently had my credit checked and found that there is an error on my report. A couple of years ago my son had some blood work done at Quest Diagnostics - when they billed the work to my health insurance they transposed two numbers from my insurance card. I tried several times to fix this problem, but they did not cooperate. It eventually went to a collections agency and took some time to clear up. The problem was eventually worked out, however, it has not affected my credit score. Do you have any advice on how to fix this error caused by the medical provider?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Try contacting the credit bureaus and filing a dispute, providing evidence of the billing error. Another suggestion is go to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Web site. Although the CFPB is not yet assisting with credit report complaints, if you answer the questions on the page I linked to, you will be directed to the proper agency to contact.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Maria
    There is a charged off student loan on my credit for which I am sure I did not co-sign for. The OC no longer Exists, ACS is the company who reported this loan on my credit, when I contacted them, they told me they no longer have this loan, they gave me the number to Loan Sciense which was the company who was suppose to have this loan, I contacted them, they told me they auctioned off the loan and had no records of who purchased this loan, the only company to ever report this on my credit is ACS, I recently asked them for paperwork showing I owe this loan including the promissory note, they said they could not give me that information because they no longer have it and all they sent me was a statement showing me how much was owed, but even if I wanted to pay it, which I cant because I do not know if anyone even owns this loan, I can't since ACS is no longer servicing this loan they cant take payments, they cant give me info of who owns this loan and they cant remove from my credit, yet they cant provide me with paperwork showing I owe this loan either. What can I do in this case? This is ruining my credit.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      If a collection agent ever materializes and attempts to collect the debt, be certain to validate the debt. In the meantime, contact the consumer credit reporting agencies and dispute the derogatory listing. If you can find no one who claims ownership of the derogatory, then the chances are the credit reporting agencies will not be able to either, and must remove the derogatory from your file.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Maria
      I filed a dispute with Experian, they came back and said that ACS validated this loan. I am unsure how to go about getting them to remove from report. ACS was only the servisers and since they no longer are servicing this loan they do not have the supposed signed promisory note. How would I go about getting it removed from my credit if no one owns this loan? How would I write a letter to the credit bureaus or ACS? I am very confused, I have looked everywhere but no one seems to have a case like mine. Any info will be highly appreciated. Thank you
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      There are two different standards in play here. When a consumer disputes an erroneous derogatory on a credit report, the credit reporting agency (the credit bureau) asks the creditor, "Hey, the consumer claims this is wrong. Well, is it?" The creditor either responds to the challenge with a "It is right," or "It is wrong, here's the right information," or does not respond at all. If there is no response, then the entry must be removed. This is not a court of law, and the level of proof required is absurdly low.

      The level of proof that seems to be implied in your message regards debt validation, which is slightly higher. Debt validation comes into play when a collection agent contacts a consumer in an attempt to collect a debt.

      Your message points out an absurdity in the FCRA that Congress never contemplated when writing the law. A consumer can contact an original creditor to attempt to validate a debt, and the original creditor may no longer have a record of the account, which will make it uncollectable. However, if the consumer disputes the derogatory in the credit report, the same creditor can shrug its shoulders and say, "Sounds OK to me," and the derogatory remains on the report. Two questions about the same account, and two different answers.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Maria
      Sorry for all these questions, but now I feel so confused, what would be the best way to procede? If say the debts were validated via eoscar, I am not sure if that is the correct name, would I be able to ask for more validation? I already know they do not have any of the original paperwork, which I would like to see since I am sure I did not sign for anyone. I just want this off my credit since it is starting to affect me. How would I go about disputing/validating it?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      You mentioned e-OSCAR. The "Internet" used by Equifax, Experian, Innovis, TransUnion, and data furnishers to handle consumer disputes is called e-OSCAR. If a data furnisher ignores or otherwise does not respond to a dispute response notification within 30 days, the derogatory item a consumer disputed must be removed from the consumer's credit report.

      If you disputed a derogatory, and the creditor confirmed what it thinks is accurate information in the derogatory entry, then your only available action is to file a lawsuit against the creditor and ask for a summary judgment that states you do not owe the debt, and that the debt should be stricken from your credit report.

      Debt validation is a different procedure with a different purpose, as I mentioned in my earlier answer. Just because a debt appears in a credit report does not make that debt valid or validated.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Diane
    Hi Bill. I have a Citibank CC debt that I just settled for 50%. When I spoke with the collections agency regarding my credit report they told me to wait 60 to 90 days to have the debt listed on my credit report as having been paid and to send a vague debt validation letter stating "I dispute the validity of this debt". If I didn't receive a response from citibank then I can request the credit bureaus to remove the debt due to non-validation. Also, I was told that if they send out a print out or some paper saying it was paid to send another letter requesting validation again until they fail to respond. Is this true? Also, if they fail to respond I guess the only proof I have to send to the credit reporting agencies is the ceritified mail receipt that I sent, correct?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      A debt validation letter is used early in the game where the consumer challenges the collection agent to prove it has the legal right to collect on the alleged debt, and the debt's amount. Debt validation is not in play after a successful debt negotiation. I do not understand why a collection agent would tell you to send the consumer credit reporting agencies a debt validation letter. Under the FCRA, the collection agent must report accurate information to the credit reporting agencies, and cannot pass that responsibility or duty off on the consumer.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Vince
    Bill: Thank you for the letters. I really appreciate it. I have approximalty $20,000 on 4 cards, 3 are capital one and one is GE capital. I believe the debts have been sold to other agencies for collections and will attempt using these letters for valadations. While it is clear that the companies are required to note the credit reports if the company cannot validate the debt, the question I have is: If the company cannot validate the debt, and fixes my credit report, do I still owe the debt or is the debt forgiven? It would seem to me, that would be the case, but it is not clear. your help would be appreciated. Thanks Vince
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Under the FCRA, a debt that cannot be validated a) may not be reported to the consumer credit reporting agencies, and b) may not be collected. The debt, under federal law, is not collectible. It is not forgiven or canceled, but it is not owed by the consumer, either.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2011
    Liz
    Hi Bill, This is great information. I have about 5 credit cards and a timeshare that I was unable to keep paying. I went through a Divorce in 06 and even though I stayed with a debt consolidation company for 2 years, my child support payments stoped and I was forced to stop making payments.The last payments were done in 2008. I want to be able to purchase a house in the next 3 years. I am considering BK7, but I also find out I can take out a loan vs. my 401k at a very low rate, which I can use to payoff my debt. DO you recomend this? Per the infor above, I was planning to send a Pay to Delete letter to all my creditors, and also to Validate the Debt. I live in California.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      I think that you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney. If you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your debts are large, it could be a great option. I believe that your bankruptcy attorney will confirm that your retirement account(s) will be kept out of the bankruptcy, so it may make much more sense to hold on to those funds than to liquidate them to pay the debt you may be able to discharge.

      Don't send a pay for delete letter, unless you are sure that you want to pay.

      Even if you file for bankruptcy, if you take the right steps to improve your credit after bankruptcy, then you can qualify for a good loan rate two years after your bankruptcy discharges. I think that you should save your retirement funds, potentially using them for a down-payment, if necessary, down the road.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2011
    Nicole
    Thank you this info was very necessary. I owe captol one 15,000 they harass me and won't even accept the good faith payments. I am very stressed over this matter...
    8 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2011
    Michelle
    Hi, received a letter from an agency in regards to a supposed debt that's at least 15 years old. Should I request a letter of validation, or should I respond to them solely on the SOL (this was originated in CA, I currently live in AZ)? If I am addressing them on the SOL issue, how should I proceed and with what action if they are requesting payment and/or settlement?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      By all means, validate the debt. If the collection agent cannot validate the debt, it cannot collect it.

      Unless you are a Wisconsin resident, the statute of limitations cannot help you if the collection agent is using private means to collect the debt. The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense you can use if the collection agent files a lawsuit against you. However, if the collection agent is phoning you or sending you letters asking for payment, the statute of limitations is not a barrier or device you can use to cease this activity (except, as I mentioned, in Wisconsin).
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Ranae
    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this information. A few years ago I paid an attorney's office $60 a month to send these very letters to my few creditors. I suspect the attorney's office somehow took their good ole time sending out the letters on their own time schedule to keep my monthly fee rolling into their office. Thank you so much for empowering the average consumer. We're so tired of being walked over time and time again.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Katie
    Thank you so much for the information, having it well organized and in plain English! We haven't had a credit card in over 15 years and still had a negative mark that was scheduled to come off in 9-2012, that is until a 3rd party collector opened it up again on 9-2009. I had no idea what to do, until I found this website. I've sent out the dispute letter and have my fingers crossed that this soon will be coming off our credit report in 9-2012 if not before!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Joe
    A few years ago the IRS. withheld my income tax for repayment of my school loan, now they keep it on my credit report and show it as in collections. How do I get this off my credit report. At the very least show it as paid in full and not in collections.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      I don't fully understand all the facts you presented. Was your tax refund that was diverted to pay your student loan large enough to pay off your entire debt? If you have paid the debt in full, then your credit report should reflect that the account has a $0 balance. If your credit report shows that a balance is owing AND you have actually paid off the debt, then contact the student loan lender and dispute the information that appears on your report.

      Are all three credit bureaus reporting inaccurate information? If so, you can dispute the errant information with the bureau that is showing a balance still owing by following the instructions on how to dispute a credit report error

      The history of your delinquencies tied to the account will remain on your credit report for 7 years.
      1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Joe
      yes my tax refund was all put towards the debt and it was paid in full. The credit reports shows it closed but that it is in collections and no info reported.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Tia
    Thank you so much for sharing this info. These sample letters are perfect! This is just what I was looking for. I will be sending these out to a few creditors tomorrow and I hope that they work. I will post on my progress with them. Thanks :)
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      We are happy to help. Please do keep us posted on how things go for you.
      3 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Oleg
    Thanks for this guys, you saved me and my friends at least a couple of grand in managing and paying off my debts! I'd hate to repeat a cliche but.. Seriously, keep up the good work!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Thank you for your kind words. We are happy to know that our do-it-yourself debt solution tips worked for you!
      3 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Blanca
    Thank you for taking the time to share such beneficial information. Power to the Consumers!
    2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Lauren
    Thank you for this very important information!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    Herald
    Good afternoon guys, Great to read your thoughts. These are good points which help get out of debt on our own. If we take help from debt relief experts then it will be easier to reduce our debt.
    2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    Mike
    Very interesting information for consumers. Keep up the good work.
    0 Votes