Credit Infocenter

Collection From Old Apartment Haunting My Credit Report

July 10th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Collection Agencies

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2012)

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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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Christine Ewing

    I lived with my sister in an apartment in 2011. We finished the lease and even shampooed the carpets. They never returned our deposit and sued us instead?? We were never notified of any court date and they said we never finished a new lease? They put a collection on her credit for over ten thousand dollars claiming 5,000.00 for cleaning and remainder of lease fees and 5,000 for legal fees and court fees. We went back to the apartment complex requesting records and they said they were under new management and don’t have any records. Please help us. Thank you

  • Ashley

    Since they don’t have records you should be able to dispute this on your credit report. I disputed mine on Credit Karma and was taken off!

  • Ebony

    Christine, I had the same thing happen to me. I dont know what to do. I’ve disputed it through Experian and it was denied. Have you found a resolution or have any advice?

  • Mark

    I signed a lease for a student apartment but I never moved into it and I was willing to pay to break the lease agreement but they wouldn’t let me so now they’ll charging me full price for a apartment that I never moved into

  • Linda Cronin

    Same problem as Christine & Ebony. This was back in July 2014. The apartment complex sold. The new owner says we don’t have info on previous tenants only current ones. There is the judgement against me and collections. I want to buy a house but I think next year will be 7 years so will see if it changes.

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