If you defaulted on consumer debt, your creditor may sell the debt to LVNV, a debt collection company. LVNV buys the debt for pennies on the dollar and attempts to collect the full amount from you.
Communicating with LVNV
Your first communication with LVNV may be over the phone. They are relentless in their phone calls. Know your rights before you talk to them.
When they call, request all communication in writing via standard mail. They’ll try to bully you into talking to them now but don’t.
With all communication in writing, you have proof of what they agree to and can hold them to it if/when they don’t do what they said.
Politely, but sternly tell them to send you all correspondence via mail and that you will respond the same way.
Handling the Collection
Once you receive the letter about your collection, you must act fast. You have 30 days to request debt validation.
This sounds scary, but it’s just a letter asking LVNV to prove the debt belongs to you. Ask specific questions in the letter. Chances are LVNV doesn’t have the information you’re requesting, which means they can’t validate the debt. When a collection agency can’t validate the debt, they must remove it from your credit report by law.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Who is the original creditor?
- What was the original balance?
- When did the debt originate?
Most collection agencies don’t have all this information. If they don’t respond with valid proof within 30 days, they can’t validate the debt.
Dispute the Debt
If LVNV validated the debt, your next step is to dispute it. Here’s how:
- Pull your credit report
- Locate the LVNV tradeline
- Look at all details
- Find any errors in the details including incorrect balance, high balance, payment dates, account number, the balance owed, misspelled name, or incorrect address
Write down all the inaccuracies, no matter how minor they seem. For example, even a transposed account number is an error.
Write a formal letter to the credit bureau reporting the error (check all three bureaus). If the error shows up on all three reports, write a letter to each bureau. In your letter, dispute the debt for its inaccuracies.
The credit bureau has 30 days to look into the issue with LVNV. The more detailed your letter is in disputing the details, the more likely it is that LVNV can’t validate the debt and the credit bureau will delete it.
Request a Pay for Delete
If disputing the debt doesn’t work, negotiate a pay for delete with LVNV.
You’ll need money for this step. Since the debt is yours, you’re negotiating with LVNV to delete the debt from your credit report in exchange for payment.
For best results, pay the debt in full – but that doesn’t mean the amount LVNV demands. If you look closely at your letter, they may offer a ‘deal.’ You don’t have to accept that deal, but can offer the amount you can (or want to) pay.
For example, if your debt is for $1,000 and they offer a settlement of $900, you can come back with $800 with the demand to delete it from your credit report. They may negotiate with a different amount.
Go back and forth until you reach an agreement IN WRITING. Never agree to anything unless you have it in writing and don’t hand over any money until you have written proof they’ll delete it from the credit report.
Remove LVNV from your Credit Report
No matter how you do it, work hard to remove LVNV from your credit report. A collection can follow you for 7 years. Even if you paid it, the collection remains there unless you request the Pay for Delete.
Make the request official and keep all communication in letters. You’ll have proof for the credit bureaus if LVNV doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain and delete the debt after you pay it. Keep proof of the letter and your canceled check so you can dispute it if needed.
If handling the debt yourself seems like too much, consider using a professional credit repair service. The professionals do this day in and day out. They know what to look for and what to say to get LVNV to remove the debt from your credit report because they can’t validate it or they agreed to a Pay for Delete.