Credit Infocenter

Collection From Old Apartment Haunting My Credit Report

July 10th, 2012 · No Comments · Collection Agencies

by Staff

Q. I didn’t leave a forwarding address when I left my last apartment (though they had my email address and cell number). I did ask the property manager if anything else was needed from me when I turned in the keys. She stated no, that I was good go.

I came to find out that there was a final bill. Less than 30 days after I left the apartment, they sent me to collections for that balance. I found this out when I pulled my credit report six months later. According to the property manager, they couldn’t find me even though they had my phone number.

The collection agency doesn’t want to give any breaks because according to them, I had 30 days after I was sent to collections to erase it from my record. But I don’t feel I ever got the opportunity to do anything – they never contacted me.

I don’t want this in my record. I feel this is so unfair. What should I do? I feel they are in some sort of violation, because not once have I been contacted by anyone.

A. First of all, if the apartment complex won’t take your money, you are stuck dealing with the collection agency. Unfortunately, it is going to be difficult but not impossible to get the collection off of your credit report. The very first thing I would do is to dispute the collection with the credit reporting agencies. Don’t explain the situation (they won’t care), just dispute the collection as not mine, which is technically true (you would have paid had you known). You may be able to get the collection removed just with this simple dispute.

Once you mail in your dispute letter, call the collection agency back and try to get them to agree to a Pay for Delete. A pay for delete scenario involves getting the collection agency to agree to remove the listing from your credit report when you pay off the account.

They are definitely going to resist removing the collection, as a collection on your credit report is a motivating factor to get you to pay. The collection agency may tell you that is is illegal to remove a collection, but this is not true. You are in a position of strength to negotiate your demands with the collection agency right up until you pay them the money.

With this in mind, you will need to get them to agree in writing that they will remove your collection upon receipt of the money. Don’t give them a cent without their agreement in writing. The complete pay for delete method can be read free of charge on our website.

During your negotiations, I would ask for some kind of proof from them that this collection is indeed yours. This is called debt validation, and the complete technique is can be read free of charge on our website. Most collection agencies have terrible and incomplete records. It’s possible that you can also get them to remove the collection through debt validation.

If they refuse to deal with you, and they have no proof that the collection is legit (you will know this through your debt validation efforts), it’s time to get tough with them. You could consider filing a lawsuit for unlawfully reporting the collection on your credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the collection agency must report accurately. Without proof of the debt, reporting a collection is inaccurate and therefore illegal.

I’ve outlined three possible methods to get the collection removed. Good luck to you and let me know the final result of your efforts.

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