I keep seeing posts about collection agencies trying to collect debts and it cracks me up. When you know your rights they become a big joke!!!
The first point about collection agencies is that you NEVER talk with them (unless it's to get an address to send a certified letter). EVER. Period. Here's why. You have no debt with any collection agency. You have not agreed to the "assignment" of the debt in writing or verbally. You have not received goods or services (consideration) from the collection agency.
They'll want you to think you owe them, but you don't. In fact, once you get a "collection letter" you should NEVER talk to them. The only way a collection company can collect one of your old debts is if you allow it. You can allow it by either agreeing to the assignment in writing, or by making a promise to pay them something. By doing that, you have, in effect, given them permission to collect it. See why you'd never talk to them!!!!!!!!!
So what do you do? You send them 3 letters. VALIDATION is the key to your success.
I accidentally ran across the validation concept. It's a "prove it or lose it" letter you send to collection agencies and/or to original creditors. You send a series of 3 or so letters asking for validation of the debt.. 9 times out of 10 you don't even get a response at all. If they don't respond, or don't respond properly, the debt doesn't exist. Case closed. By the way, this is an affirmative defense if the original creditor ever tries to sue you. You asked for proof, you didn't receive it.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, while you're requesting valition, the collection company can NOT contact you except to send the validation (so it simultaneously acts as a cease and desist letter too).
You can find the letters here:
Debt Validation - experts please help thread 32878
Debt Validation2 - experts please help thread 32879
No Debt Validation=Remove trade line letter thread 32991
Send all correspondence certified return receipt requested. You have to have proof they received your letters always.
1. send validation 1 letter (30 days)
they won't respond
2. send validation 2 letter w/copy of first letter in it You can add into this letter that you want complete removal of the trade line. (15-20 days) they'll remove it or not respond
3. send trade line removal letter (you want it done immediately).
Once they know that you know they have no claim, and once they've gotten the first 2 letters (and not responded) you now have cause for damages. They must remove the info off your reports or they're KNOWINGLY harming you... and that's lawsuit time!!!
Try to send the letters to a supervisor or manager.
By the way, right now I'd send disputes to all 3 of the bureaus: not mine. It's not.
If the creditors don't respond to the credit bureaus, you'll get it off the report anyway. But you still have to get the agency to stop trying to collect it. The bureau listing is just the blackmail part to get you to deal with the collection agency. If it wasn't on your report, would we EVER bother contacting them? Not unless they filed a lawsuit.
By the way, if the CRAs "verify" it and the collection company still tries to collect after not sending you anything. File an FTC complaint!!! Send all copies of letters/ and proof of receipt. You really would have a case.
Normally, the letters do work and you don't have to go that far. Collection companies know they don't really have a let to stand on (as long as you haven't agreed to pay them). Have fun! Keep a log of what you do in case you need proof (and copies of all letters sent and received of course).
This normally takes 3 months or less. Don't expect faster. Even if the bureau takes it off the first time you ask, still send at least the first 2 validation letters to the collection company.
You may want to check the statute of limitations. (the time period they have to legally collect on the debt) If it's over or close, you don't even have to worry about the original creditor sending it off to another collection agency (though they might try). I've only had this happen with Citibank (they sent an account out for collection 5 years after the Ga SOL had run out).
YOu can find your state's statute of limitations at: http://www.creditinfocenter.com/rebuild/statuteLimitations.shtml just for your own info.
Initially, I'd just send validation to the collection company. If they ever try to send it to another colleciton company, repeat the process and send the validations to the original creditor too. Otherwise, I'd let the original credit alone for now.
There is a concept that since the original creditor "sold" or assigned the debt to the collection agency that they've received all the money that they're entitled to, and thus you now don't owe the original creditor... but that's for another day. Just deal with the collection agency and the CRAs for now. :) Good luck!