How to Fight a Collection Report

By Philip Tirone

This letter asking for information about how to fight a collection account just came into my inbox:

“I am currently fighting a collection agency who suspiciously has me owing over $1,000 to a hospital that I have never heard about, and that is no longer in existence. The collection agency’s report states that I had a dog bite and visited the emergency room.”

My student went on to say that the collection company could not link his Social Security number or current address to the bill, and so the collection agency asked my student to send a letter to dispute the matter.

You know, to clear things up …

So my student sent a letter letting the collection agency know his SSN, his address, and his current employer. Guess what collection company did? It took the information from the letter and entered it into the database, linking my student’s Social Security number, address, and current employer to the bill.

That’s right: My student was trying to correct an error, and the collection agency used this information to make the error even worse! Boy does this have me steamed!

If a creditor or collection agency ever mistreats you, fight back! The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a set of laws that protects consumers from creditors and credit bureaus that is incorrectly reporting information.Under this act, you have the right to dispute any item on your credit report that you believe is wrong. And credit agencies must respond to your dispute.

Here are the steps you can follow to fight a collection report.

1) Upon identifying an error, send a “dispute letter” detailing the items listed incorrectly in your credit report. Since my student is dealing with a dishonest collection company, I suggest that he approach the credit bureaus directly.

The first letter should state, very simply, “I am writing to request that you remove information from my credit report. The information does not belong to me.

“Following are the details: [Insert the details of the mistaken account, and include a copy of your credit report with the incorrect account highlighted].

“Please investigate this claim and remove the inaccurate information from my credit report.”

2) Upon receiving the dispute letter, the bureau will contact the creditor and ask it to verify that the item in question is correct.

3) Expect a written response from the bureau within 30 days. The response will either provide the results of the investigation, or it will request more information from you, in which case it will have another 15 days to complete the investigation.

4) If you do not hear back within 30 days, fill out this form, which will help you fight back and protect your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

5) If the agency determines that the dispute is valid, or if it cannot verify the disputed item’s accuracy, it is required by law to remove (permanently or temporarily) the item you are disputing. Unless the agency receive information validating the account’s accuracy, the information should not reappear on your credit report.

6) Be sure to keep great records. Send letters via certified mail, return receipt requested. And pull your credit report a few months after the dispute has been resolved to make sure that the inaccurate information doesn’t make its way back onto your credit report.

Hope this helps. If you have more questions about how to fight a collection account, be sure to leave a comment below.

  • Rose

    For safety’s sake, pay the collection agency witha money order and photcopy it for your records. Be sure have easy access to the file. The money orders are between $0.10 – $0.50 at a local market. Maybe this will help someone.

    • Rose, NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER pay a collection company! You will be joining in a contract with them that you otherwise would not be in, then they can force the obligation on you.

      Shannon Lopez

  • I bought the free trial of a tooth whitening company. I cancelled before the 7 day trial was up. I got a confirmation number (ALWAYS get a confirmation number). They sent me more whitener the next month, and charged my credit card $80! I called. They were out of business. I sent emails….I called the credit card company who would not reverse it because they said I ordered it. I painstakingly explaned to the credit card company and by then, it was the next month…another $80. I sent the same thing to everyone in a letter stating I didn’t want this…nor was I GETTING the whitener now. I found out the company was sued. I asked the credit card to charge this off NOW since the company was obviously at fault. They didn’t I closed the Credit Card. I’m still getting charge notices from the collection agency and can’t get it off of my credit report….it was $200 or so. Now it is closer to $300 with fees!

    • we might have a solutions

  • My father, age 78, was taken into the hospital to redo a stent that was supposed to be defective. After spending all day on Friday in the hospital, and the doctor didn’t show because of an emergency,the hospital said he was rescheduled for Monday. My dad decided to go home for the weekend….On Monday he went back in and had the procedure. The insurance would not pay the second amount because it was too close to the first date for the same thing. Eventually, we got this off of his credit report, except for the $200 deductible for the first day which the hospital sent to the credit bureau. My dad’s credit has dropped due to this $200 bill which should have never been billed, and the WHOLE TIME AT THE HOSPITAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID BY THE MAKER OF THE DEFECTIVE STENT, NOT HIS INSURANCE ANYWAY. Talking to anyone about this is like talking to a brick. No one listens.

  • Larry Leighton

    Good information – thanks for the tips.

  • Gina

    I would file a complaint with the attorney general office and federal trade commission. Credit Collections Agencies can be very scandles. The collection agencies always try to get paid even if it is not your bill. Someone must of gotten his information.Must be idenity theft. Their are forms he can fill out and send in with his paper work. Hope this help.

  • Gina

    I would file a complaint with the attorney general office and federal trade commission and tell them exactly what has happen. Credit Collections Agencies can be very scandlous. The collection agencies always try to get paid even if it is not your bill. Someone must of gotten his information. Must be idenity theft. Their are forms he can fill out and send in with his paper work from the Federal Trade Commission for identity theft. Hope this help.

  • Ralph

    Thanks Phillip for the eye opening and to the fellow student for sharing, not everything is as innocent as it seems, I hope serious action is being taken to get the issue resolved. Crooks they are and like crooks they should be dealt with. Much success with the reslove.

  • Hi Philip,
    This is the exact type of scenario that I always warn my customers about also. If a collection company doesn’t have any information and asks you to send them something, do not send them your information. Send them another validation letter with a demand to remove from all bureaus with an intent to sue if they don’t do it within a set amount of time.

    Collection agencies are famous for scanning signatures and pasting them on documents one never signed. People need to remember that just like in court, THEY, the accuser, have the burden of proof, not you.

    Something else that your customers need to know: A 3rd party collector’s claim against you is NEVER valid! I must correct that to say as long as you do NOT enter into a contract with them. They are not on the original contract with the original creditor. They do not have a valid contract. There are 4 basic elements to a contract in order for it to be legal and binding. Collection companies cannot meet even those 4 basic qualifiers. (basic contract law).

    I have tons of more legal info that beats them just about every time. If it doesn’t beat them right out the gate, it is because they are violating the law. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have a 100% success rate. You have good info Philip, keep putting it out there. And people, listen to Philip, because he is steering you straight and giving you great information.

    Shannon Lopez

  • Hubert

    Wow! I hate to tell you this, but in the United States things seldom operate the way they are designed to, unless you have money to hire an attorney, and even if you do, why should we have to use our money to oil the systmice machine that too often look the other way. I don’t want to be negative but the truth is as a minority, this has been happening to me since 17 1/2 when I entered undergraduate school. Its a scam that they use to identify private citizens. The mud is far thicker than the obvious. In some cases they actually make the correction only to have it re-appear years down the road when you have discarded all of your original paperwork. This is just one of the parasites that has attached themselves to the United States of America. It really is sickening And it destroys your quality of life.

  • Sir,
    I sent a payment for info on a company (D.C.Fawcett)It
    was pd on my debit card on 08-23-12.I did not want to be involved with said Company,so I had no more contact with them.But now 11-26-12 They have charged me $95.00 which I did not approve,I have tried to call them,but their box is full,so I E-Mailed them,But no answer.So what can I do??

    Thank You, Richard Oxford 12-05-12

    • AC

      You can call your bank and tell them what happened and that when you call them, you can’t even leave a message and they will refund your account or at least that’s how it works with my bank. But you’d better hurry because they can only go back so far.

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  • Richard Branam

    Hello Philip Tirone and all, yes I did something similar to the letter only I called Experian and challenged a huge bill and within 30 days,I received a letter and a new credit report signifying a deleted account. Thank you so much Philip Tirone.

  • Hi, Everyone should fight collection report on basis of fair debt collection act. So everyone should keep track of their finance statement so that, they can revert back if any type of this situation arises.
    Thanks for this post.