As I was sitting here wondering about what would happen if I didn’t pay my collections off, I decided to start doing a little research into the matter. It’s no doubt that the hounding tactics that debt collection agencies use are very annoying. I owed debt on a medical bill from my pulmonary doctor from a years ago, and was not aware that I owed $60. Until the debt collection agency started hounding me by calling every few hours.
I knew that this was a collections agency because I have an app on my phone that filters out the calls, so I though to myself, why even bother with them? It wasn’t until I checked my free annual credit report that I realized that this was the reason they were calling. I decided to research whether I should even answer them or not, since the amount was so small.
The conclusion that I came to is that if the debt is small and you can pay for it without taking a big hit on your finances, go for it. If it’s an astronomical bill from a healthcare company, for thousands of dollars, it might be best to just wait it out until it comes off your report in 7 years.
Should I pay the debt collector or original creditor?
From what I’ve read around the internet, the general answer is that you’re better off paying the debt collection agency instead of the original creditor. This is because if you pay the original creditor, they don’t have the authority to remove things off your credit, because they were not the ones that reported the debt to all the three credit bureaus.
It’s best to ask if you can get a pay for delete offer, which means that you’ll pay the debt in full, as long as they agree to remove the debt from your credit report. If you do this, always make sure that you get the pay for delete offer in writing. This is in case you pay the debt in full, and they don’t delete it, you have some sort of documentation where they agreed to remove the item from your credit report.
The only exception to this rule is if the debt collection agency belongs to the original creditor. The reason I say this is because a lot of companies have their own debt collection departments who handle collections in house. If this is the case, then by all means pay them directly and ask them to have their collections department retract the item from your credit reports. Just keep in mind, whatever you and them agree upon, always get it in writing.
What happens if I ignore a debt collector?
One quick way of never feeling like somebody cares about you, is by ignoring a debt collector. These people will call you so much, that it will start to make you feel special. Joking aside, ignoring a debt collector is generally a bad idea. Not only will they call you non stop, some of them use very dirty tactics such as calling your parents, spouses, siblings, and often times your work.
If a debt collector can’t get a hold of you within a certain amount of time, most likely they will pursue legal action against you. This is usually in the form of wage garnishment, or even putting liens on your property. This means that if you have a car, they might put a lien on it so that you can’t sell the car until the debt is paid off. This is why we never recommend that you ignore them and that you face the problem head on.
If you do ignore them and it’s been 7 years since they stopped calling, consider yourself lucky, you may now file an online dispute to get the item taken off your report, if it’s still showing.
How to find out how to pay collections?
The easiest way to find out how to pay a collections account is to answer the phone when they call. If you don’t have a phone or they don’t have the proper information, you can always get your free annual credit report, which will have the debt collection agencies name, phone number and mailing address.
With this information, you should be able to contact them to pay the debt. Like we always state, make sure you settle for a Pay for Delete, which means that they will delete the item from your credit report once your payment has cleared. Make triple sure that you get this in writing though, as some collection agencies tend to lie and twist things around.
Do collection agencies have payment plans?
Most collection agencies have payment plans ranging from a couple of payments to 6, 12, 24 monthly payments. It all depends on the collection agency. If you’ve never had to set up a collections payment plan, let us let you in a little secret. Sometimes you can set it up to pay as little as you want. For example, if you can’t make $400 monthly payments, you are be able to tell them exactly how much you can pay each month, so you might be able to make it something low, just to keep them off your back. I was able to pay $50 a month on a $1,200 debt. Then once I was in a better position financially to make larger payments, I did. Obviously I made sure I had in writing that they would delete the collections from my credit once it was paid off, which they did.
How can I get a debt collector to stop calling me?
You can simply ask to not be contacted by them any longer. According to the FTC, it’s highly recommend that you mail them a certified letter with return receipt stating that you do not want them to call you. This way, if they call you again after you’ve asked, you can tell them that they’re in violation of your rights according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).