Have you been placed for collection?
This site is sponsored by Access Receivables. Access Receivables is a licensed debt collection agency. We represent hundreds of creditors throughout the United States in handling commercial and consumer debts. The owners of Access have been involved in the debt collection business since 1980. We have found that there are many misconceptions about credit and collections. We have seen many business owners and consumers make their financial situations worse, especially in recent years, as a result of a lack of knowledge and understanding about credit and collections. This site is our effort to provide information that can be helpful to consumers and business owners that face financial challenges in difficult times. We do not take any advertising for this site nor do we attempt to collect debts on this site. It is presented as a public service. Frequently, consumers and business owners are unknowing of the facts. The following information only applies to consumers. Federal Debt Collection Laws do not address business debts. Business owners should check the laws in their state to see if their are specific protections under the law for business to business debts.
Here are some facts:
- Validation of the Debt – You have the right to request verification of the debt within the first thirty (30) days of collection (validation period). According to Federal law, if you dispute the validity of the debt, you must request verification. The collection agency letter will include a “validation statement” which is required by law. Once the agency receives your written validation request, they must cease collections until the verification of the debt is provided. If the debt cannot be verified, the collection agency is prohibited by law to contact you again and cannot attempt collection. This “validation period”, however, only addresses the first 30 days since placement. It is important to address the situation promptly. If you feel the debt is not valid, put it in writing and respond as soon as you receive your first collection notice.
- Dispute– If you dispute the debt, FTC regulation 16 C.F.R. 660.4 (d) states your dispute should provide all pertinent information including name, address and account number as well as supporting documentation that proves you don’t owe the debt such as copies of cancelled checks, account statements, a police report, a fraud or identity theft affidavit or a court order.
- Simply telling a debt collector you dispute the debt, “I don’t owe this” and hanging up the phone will not resolve your problem.
- Ignoring the collection letter or phone can cause you more problems if you don’t owe the bill. The collection agency will assume you owe the bill if it is not disputed in accordance with the law.
- Communication – Sometimes, people are led to believe that simply telling the debt collector “do not call me or write me about this matter” will make the debt go away. It is true that if you request in writing that the debt collector not contact you by phone or letter, they must comply. Actually, they are allowed one more communication with you after that request. Since there is no communication after that, however, the debt collector can report your debt to a credit bureau if they perform this service for clients and/or refer the account to litigation if the client and the agency agree. The collection agency may also return the account to their client and the client may place the account with another collection agency, refer the account to their attorney or report the account to the credit bureau themselves. In essence, if you don’t communicate with the agency, it may make your situation worse.
- What if the collection agent won’t listen or help me?
- The Agent Won’t Listen – If you are making a sincere effort to resolve your account or explain your situation to the collection representative and they are not listening, calmly request to speak with their supervisor. Typically, the supervisor will want to address your concerns and help you if you are sincere about resolving your account. If the collector is uncooperative and you have not been able to resolve your problem through a supervisor, write a certified letter to the President of the company. You can obtain that information through public records or even their corporate Website. The vast majority of collection agencies work hard not to generate complaints and will appreciate your feedback. Let them know in the letter that resolving the situation is important to you but you need an opportunity to tell your side of the story. Provide all written documentation if you believe you do not owe the bill. Just as with every other industry, there are also a few bad apples. Remember that you have rights under the law.
- The Agent Won’t Help Me. – Sometimes people and business owners feel the collection agent is uncooperative because they have proposed some solution and the agent has refused their solution. A collection agency is employed by a client to “recover” monies that are legally owed by a debtor in the shortest possible time. If you send in a $50.00 payment on a $5,000 debt, this is not a solution. Many clients even have minimum standards for repayment and the collection agency must follow their standards. Your proposal for repayment should demonstrate a real effort on your part to repay your obligation in the shortest time possible. Ironically, one of the most frequent complaints received by the FTC against collection agencies is frequent calling attempts. The laws in the state in which you reside will determine how many contacts are permitted. Typically, if you return the agency’s phone call and communicate with them or respond to their letter in writing, the agency will not have a need to call you every other day. You should communicate, even if you don’t have a solution to the problem at present. They may have a suggestion. Let them know that you are concerned about your debt and want to pay the bill. If you have been placed for collection, know your rights and know the law.
If you have been placed for collection, you have rights. Go to www.ftc.gov
The Federal Trade Commission has regulated debt collection agencies since 1978. The following short video produced by the FTC explains some of your rights under the law. You can also download the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) at www.ftc.gov. You may also want to visit www.askdrdebt.com, which is another great site to find answers to credit and collection issues.