Originally Posted by mbjacobs
It seems like there are a lot of people on here with a lot of
experience. I have never had anything like this happen to me, but I was
hoping someone might have some advice.
I'm 26 years old. About a year ago, I signed up for monthly credit
monitoring with freecreditreport.com. I was watching my credit slowly
rise from great to phenomenal, finally hitting its peak last month at
761. I have never missed paying a bill on time, usually have less than
15% of my available credit used and have a bunch of accounts
(utilities, credit cards, an unsecured loan) I keep in perfect standing.
Until a few months ago, I was living in New Orleans. I went to the
emergency room one night, resulting in numerous bills. I was under the
impression that I had paid off every single one of them, and moved to
New York thinking I was all up to date.
I was checking in on my credit last week as I do once monthly and saw
to my horror that my credit had dropped from 761 to 654. It turns out
that NCO Financial had hit me with a creditor alert (see bottom of
message) saying that I had an unpaid debt of $87.32 from a medical bill
from the ER. I never received this bill, at least before I moved (which
was months after I had originally went to the emergency room). The ER
billing department had never contacted me by phone and neither had NCO
when they flagged me.
Naturally, as soon as I saw this, I freaked out and called NCO. They
told me that they have an absolute, 100% "no
deletions" policy, even though I never received a bill for it.
Now that I'm looking through everyone's advice, I can see I did what I
should not have done - I immediately paid the bill on the spot to NCO
thinking that was the best thing I could do. NCO told me to call
Experian but Experian told me that it was completely up to NCO. I filed
a dispute online, but was told that there was no change in my status!
So, am I completely screwed because I have already paid NCO? Do I have no grounds for further dispute? Who should I talk to?
I feel completely powerless. I have never not paid a debt I've known
about in my life and had my perfect name destroyed (98th percentile to
31st percentile) in one day because of a bill I had never heard of in
my entire life. Within ten minutes of hearing about the bill (from
their first contact with me, which was by flagging my credit report), I
had it paid in full to NCO!
Does anyone have any advice at all? Do I have any grounds to defend
myself? Who should I talk to? In the worst case scenario, how long will
it take me to begin making a recovery from this? How can I have paid
probably $100,000 in bills, rent, taxes and loans in perfect standing
for my entire life, and be destroyed by ONE single bill, whether I
missed payment legitimately (which I did), or illegitimately.
Thank you for any advice, and sorry to write such a long thing. I don't know who to talk to.
Below is the credit flag I got:
NCO FIN/55Potentially Negative Closed
Mailing Address:PO BOX 13570PHILADELPHIA, PA 19101More Account Details
Account Name NCO FIN/55
Account # XXXXXXXX
Account Type Collection Department / Agency / Attorney
Date Opened 8/1/2009
Account Status Closed
Close Account Details Past Due $87.00
Payment Status Seriously past due date / assigned to attorney,
collection agency, or credit grantor's internal collection department
Terms 1 Month
I'm sorry to hear about your plight
but it does illustrate how badly people who try to do the right thing
and pay what they owe are treated when they pay a debt collector
anything. I constantly advocate that people should never pay a crying
dime to a debt collector for any reason. Your story should prove my
point to anybody who reads about it but they will probably continue to
do it anyway.
Everybody should dispute their debt no matter how small or how large it
may be. The very fact that a debt collector has stuck their nose into
the problem should logically anger people so badly that they will do
whatever it takes to make absolutely certain that the debt collector
will never again make the mistake of contacting them in any way
whatever. They should do all in their power to make that debt collector
cringe in fear at the very mention of the debtor's name.
Doing that may be time consuming because the debtor has quite a bit to
learn. S/he must first of all learn about debt validation and how to
write an effective debt validation letter. S/he must learn about the
other letters that should be sent out on a timely basis and how they
should be written. I believe that the final letter should be a fully
prepared federal lawsuit ready to go file accompanied by an properly
prepared intent to sue letter and waiver of service of summons. That
set of documents should tell any debt collector with an IQ greater than
their shoe size that unless they wake up and die right they are going
to face some very dire consequences. The debt collector should be given
only a minimal amount of time to correct the problem before the
consumer actually files the case in federal court which should then be
done with no further ado.
In your case, you paid the debt collector so you admitted that you owed
the debt and therefore ostensibly have no recourse but to suffer the
consequences for the next 7 years. That is the common thinking but
maybe it doesn't have to be that way at all. Maybe there is a possible
remedy. The question has to be whether or not the debt collector had a
permissible purpose to put that derogatory listing in your credit
report in the first place. Did that debt collector prove that you owed
the debt before the adverse listing was placed against you? If not then
he violated FCRA and is liable to you for $1,000 times the number of
months the listing remains in your credit report times the number of
credit reporting agencies that wrongfully carried the listing. One year
in all three credit bureaus amounts to $36,000 in damages plus any
additional damages you suffered due to having been turned down or maybe
by being forced to pay higher interest rates or maybe by having been
turned down for employment.
Another question might be whether or not the correct codes were used in
getting the listing placed. If they used the wrong code they could be
liable for that as well. Did they provide any false information to the
credit bureaus? Did they attempt to illegally re-age the debt or
attempt to do so causing the listing to stay in your credit reports
longer than the time allowed by law? There may be other issues as well
but you should do your diligent research to see what they may have done
that they should not have done. Others may say that none of that could
possibly make any difference now because you paid the debt thereby
admitting that you owed the debt. That may or may not be true but there
is only one way to find out and that is to do your homework and if you
find cause of action then learn how to prepare your federal case and go
If you do what I suggest you just might come out of it with a clean
credit history and more actual cash in your hand than most people will
ever hold in their hands at one time in their entire life. So now, the
greater question is whether or not you will actually do the homework it
will take to do what I suggest or not. If you aren't willing to do that
then I'm sorry but you paid the debt and now will have to live with it
for the next 7 years or so. The ball is in your court. What will you do
with it, dribble it down the court and try for a basket or will you
fumble? Its all up to you. Whatever you decide to do I wish you the
best of luck.