Everyone experiences financial issues from time to time. Whether COVID-19 caused you to lose your job and fall behind on your bills or you had some other issue, if you let your bills go unpaid for too long, they likely end up with a collection agency like Credit Collection Services (CCS).
If you stumbled upon CCS on your credit report or you received a letter/phone call from them, it’s important to take the necessary steps to remove Credit Collection Services from your credit report.
Why you Should Care
You may wonder why it’s a big deal. If CCS is on your credit report – it doesn’t hurt anything, right?
Not only do collections cause your credit score to drop dramatically, but they also make future lenders wary about lending to you.
A collection means you let a debt go so far past due that the creditor couldn’t collect on it anymore. They usually wait until the bill remains unpaid for 120+ days before they get to that point. When a payment is that late, it hurts your credit score and the collection just adds fuel to the fire.
So what should you do?
Validate the Debt
If you are still within the first 30 days of CCS calling or emailing you, ask for debt validation. This is just a letter you write asking them for more details about the debt. Chances are any communication you’ve received has minimal information on it.
Ask for more details, proving the debt belongs to you. If they can’t prove it belongs to you AND that you owe the debt, it’s invalid and they must remove it from your credit report.
Dispute the Debt
If CCS validates the debt, you have the option to dispute it. You’ll need a copy of your credit report to do this. We recommend pulling all three reports here – everyone has free access annually.
If anything on the CCS tradeline is inaccurate or unfair, you may dispute it. This includes if your name is incorrect, the account number is wrong, or the balance/payment information is incorrect.
Go through the tradeline line by line on each report. If you find anything incorrect, write a letter to the credit bureau. Write a separate letter to each bureau, and include proof of why the information posted is incorrect.
The credit bureau has thirty days to respond to your request. If they don’t respond or can’t validate the debt, they must remove it.
Negotiate the Payment
No matter if you get CCS off your credit report, you still have to satisfy the debt (if it’s valid). If CCS has your debt, though, it means they bought it for less than it’s worth. This gives you some wiggle room when you negotiate.
Before you negotiate with CCS, figure out how much money you can afford to pay. If you can pay it in one lump sum, you’ll have more leverage. When you negotiate the amount, ask CCS to delete the collection from your credit report.
If they agree, get it in writing. Don’t take any verbal agreements. If you pay as agreed and they don’t remove CCS from your credit report, you have no proof of what they agreed to do.
If you pay as agreed and have it in writing and they don’t remove it, you can dispute the debt with the credit bureau, using the letter as proof of what they promised to do.
If you can’t make a payment in full, discuss your options for a payment arrangement. CCS will likely work with you because they want payment, but it may take a little back and forth to come to an agreement. Again, don’t give them access to your checking account.
It takes some time and patience to remove Credit Collection Services from your credit report, but it can be done.
Start with debt validation, as that is often the first step in getting CCS off your credit report. If that doesn’t work, you have other options including disputing the debt with the credit bureaus. We recommend mailing the letter to the credit bureaus – don’t use their online system. There are ways creditors can get around your dispute if you do it online.
Your dispute will hold up better if done in writing via snail mail. It’s easy, and you have more proof of your attempts to make any unfair or incorrect information reported right.