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How do I contact my creditors if my collection accounts have been sold several times?

I have several delinquent accounts that I want to start paying off but do not know how to contact the companies to whom the money is owed (due to a divorce, loss of a job and poor money managing skills). Some of those accounts have been sold through the years. My goal is to pay and be able to purchase a home.

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Bill's Answer
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When an account is written-off by an original creditor, it may transfer the account -- which is now known as a "collection account" -- to an internal loss mitigation department, sell the account to a collection agent, or contract with a collection agent who negotiates on the original creditor's behalf.

To locate the owner of a collection account, get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies. Carefully reviewing your credit reports should help you determine the current owner of your account, and provide you with the creditor's contact information. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- by visiting You can either request a report from one bureau every few months as a way to monitor your credit profile, or you can request all three at once to compare the credit information appearing in each bureau's file.

Once you know who is handling your account, you will want to negotiate a resolution with either the current account owner directly or with the collector representing the creditor. If you have adequate funding to offer the creditor a large portion of the debt, such as 30% to 40% of the balance, you may be able to negotiate a reduced balance settlement with the creditor. Why would a collection agent or original creditor accept such a deal? Generally speaking, once an account is delinquent it is valued at 5 to 10 cents on the dollar. Therefore, even if a collection agent negotiates a lump-sum settlement of 40 cents on the dollar, it is making an attractive gross profit. You should be able to work out a repayment plan with the creditor if you do not have a lump sum to offer.

The amount of the settlement or monthly payments will depend on the size of the debt, your financial circumstances, and how "collectable" the creditor believes the debt to be. For example, debtors living in Texas are frequently able to obtain better settlements than consumers in other states, as Texas law makes collection of delinquent debts difficult. Whether you are able to negotiate a settlement or a repayment plan, make sure that you obtain the terms of the agreement in writing before making any payments.

I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to resolve this outstanding debt. To learn more about the different options available to consumers struggling to manage credit card debt, I encourage you to visit the Debt Help page.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



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