Checking Your Voicemail And Caller Id
Legitimate debt collectors will leave a voicemail and contact information if they cannot reach you directly on the phone. You also can locate a collection agency with just the phone number from your caller ID or voicemail by typing the number into a search engine. The search result may contain results from websites where other people have shared information about who called from that number and the nature of the call.
Unclaimed Federal Tax Refunds
If you are eligible for a federal tax refund and dont file a return, then your refund will go unclaimed. Even if you aren’t required to file a return, it might benefit you to file if:
- Federal taxes were withheld from your pay
- You qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit
You may not have filed a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement. But you can still file a return within three years of the filing deadline to get your refund.
Do This If Your Debt Is Already In Collections
To start digging out of debt that’s already in collections, “get some help quickly,” says Eweka. Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and ask to work with a nonprofit credit counselor.
With the counselor’s help, call the collections agency and arrange a payment plan so the delinquent marks roll off your credit report as quickly as possible. It can take up to seven years for your past-due history to disappear completely off your report, but as you work toward settling outstanding debts your score will consistently increase with time.
Even if your debt is already in collections, debt collectors are not allowed to lie to you, threaten you, use obscene language or harass you by phone. However, a new report from Pew Charitable Trust found that increasingly, collections companies are taking debt settlements to civil court. The study shows that, from 1993 to 2013, the number of debt collection lawsuits steadily doubled from at least 1.7 million cases to 4 million cases nationwide.
And although laws vary state by state, collections agencies are generally not allowed to use unfair practices like adding fees and interest on top of what you owe , nor can they threaten to take your property through illegal means. However, they may be able to leverage the legal system in surprising ways, like suing you or freezing your assets.
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Check The Statute Of Limitations For Your State
Debt collectors can only legally sue you for an old debt for so long. At some point, the statute of limitations will expire. If a debt collector hasnât filed a lawsuit by that point, their case will get thrown out of court.
Each state has a different statute of limitations, so youâll need to check your statesâ laws. Depending on the time period, debts you can still be sued for may or may not appear on your credit history.
If a debt is past the statute of limitations, you wonât need to pay it. But, be careful â if you make a partial payment, or even promise to pay an old debt, the limitations period can reset, meaning that you could risk a debt collection lawsuit.
Do You Have Rare Money How To Check Your Cash For Collectibles
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
Pull any bill out of your wallet. See the dark green numbers on the top-left or top-right corners? They could mean your bill is worth much more than its face value.
If a serial numbers digits are unique or interesting, collectors might be willing to pay big bucks hundreds or even thousands of dollars for your bill. Youll make the most profit off a $1 bill with a fancy serial number, since its face value is lower than, say, a $20 bill, but its worth scrutinizing all your cash. Who knows what your $100 bill could actually be worth?
Knowing what your paper money might be worth is all in the serial number.
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How Does A Collection Entry Impact Your Credit Score
Once one of your credit accounts is sent to collections, a collection entry is logged on your . Its this negative information that can hurt your credit history. Having a negative entry like this can turn your good credit score into a poor credit score.
Its hard to say how much of a drop it will lead to in your credit score. Both Equifax and TransUnion have separate credit scores. A collection entry may lead to a bigger credit score drop with one credit reporting agency over the other.
How big of a drop largely depends on how good your credit scores were to start with. If you had an excellent credit score, it could really drag down your credit score. Meanwhile, someone who already had a poor credit score might not seem that much of a drop.
Likewise, the longer the collection entry appears on your credit report, the less it will affect your credit score.
Search For Money From Insurance
- VA Life Insurance Funds Search the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs database for unclaimed insurance funds.
- The VA may owe money to current or former policyholders or their beneficiaries.
- This database doesnt include funds from:
- Servicemembers Group Life Insurance
- Veterans Group Life Insurance policies from 1965 to the present
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Special Cards To Keep An Eye Out For
Aside from the various rares mentioned above, there are a few unique traits worth looking out for that can mean a Pokemon card has high value. These are often printing errors or limited distribution that led to a card becoming extremely precious to collectors. Sometimes these cards look no different than others of the same kind at first glance and require special attention to identify, so look carefully!
What Going Into Collections Means
Depending on the type of debt owed, collections can affect you in different ways. If your debt is unsecured, such as credit card debt, and you default on your payments with that debt sent to collections, the credit card company would stop trying to collect the debt from you. Instead, the collections company that your debt was sent to, would pursue the debt and try to collect money from you. If your debt was secured, such as an auto loan and you default, then the lender might repossess your car, sell it at auction, and sell the remainder of debt you owe to a collections company. Lenders can collect money from debt in the following ways:
- Contact you on their own and ask for payment using their internal collection department.
- Hire a collection agency to try and collect.
- For revolving debt, such as credit card debt, the credit card company could sell your debt to a collection agency, which would then try to get the money from you.
- For installment loan debt, such as an auto loan, the lender may repossess the car, sell it auction, and then sell the remaining debt to a collection agency.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act strictly regulates how debt collectors can operate when trying to recover a debt. For example, they can’t threaten you with imprisonment or make any other kind of threat, if you don’t pay. However, they can and typically do report the unpaid debt to credit reporting agencies.
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How To Find Out If You Have Unclaimed Money Or Property
Deborah Fowles was a financial planning and budgeting expert for The Balance who spent over a decade contributing her expertise. She worked in a variety of fields prior to diving into writing, including pathology and marketing. In addition to publishing two books about personal finance, she wrote poetry, for which she won the Poetry Guild’s Award for outstanding poetry composition in 1997.
Have you ever put on an old jacket or pair of pants you hadn’t worn for a while and discovered a $10 bill, or a $20 bill, in the pocket? Do you remember how delighted you were with this “found” money? Well, there may be a stash of hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of unclaimed property with your name literally on it, waiting for you to claim it.
Nationwide, there are billions of dollars of unclaimed property. The Internal Revenue Service estimated in 2020 that $1.5 billion in tax refunds went unclaimed for the 2016 tax year alone. You may think it’s unlikely that you’re one of the lucky people who have unclaimed property or money waiting for them, but it’s estimated that one in every 10 Americans has unclaimed property.
What Are My Debt Collection Rights
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that limits what a debt collector can say and do. The law requires a debt collector to send you a written notice within five days of contacting you for the first time with the following information:
- How much money you owe on the debt
- The name of the collector
- Steps you can take if you dont think the debt is yours
If you dont think the debt is legitimate, you can dispute it within 30 days to the debt collector or with the company reporting the debt. If you dispute a debt, the collector must send written verification, such as a copy of a bill, before contacting you again to collect payment.
Here are a few more of your debt collection rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Time and place Debt collectors cant contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you agree. They also cant contact you at work if your employer doesnt allow its employees to take personal calls.
- Harassment or abuse Debt collectors cant threaten you with physical violence, use obscene language or lie to you about how much you owe or your federal rights.
- Attorney representation Normally, if youre being represented by an attorney and the debt collector knows, they must communicate with your attorney and not you personally.
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How To Decide If You Should Pay A Debt Collection Agency
There’s no silver bullet in a debt collection case. While ignoring a debt collector may be an option in some cases, it’s not available to some debtors.
Here are some general considerations.
If you refuse to pay a debt collection agency, they may file a lawsuit against you. Debt collection lawsuits are no joke. You can’t just ignore them in the hopes that they’ll go away. If you receive a Complaint from a debt collector, you must respond within a time frame determined by your jurisdiction. For most areas in the US, that time frame is 14-30 days.
If a debt collection agency wins their lawsuit, they have several options available. For example, debt collectors may garnish earnings to collect a debt. A garnishment is a court order that takes money directly from a debtor’s earnings. This money goes towards repaying the debt they owe. Consider this possible outcome before ignoring a debt collector’s payment demands.
Here’s one more thing to keep in mind. Interest on your unpaid debt will continue to pile up as time passes. If you don’t pay a debt collection company, the amount of money you allegedly owe will keep increasing.
A piece of advice: pay the right person. If you receive a letter from a debt collector demanding money, do your research. Often, debt collection agencies sell debt to one another. Don’t just assume you’re paying the right debt collector. Make sure your debt hasn’t changed hands.
Request Your Free Credit Reports
Your credit reports are a perfect starting point for figuring out how much you owe and who you owe it to. This is especially true for old debts you havenât thought about in a while. Your credit report lists your personal information like your name and Social Security number along with your credit history for any credit card, loan, or other credit accounts you have.
Every year, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The easiest way to do this is to go to AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also call 322-8228 to request a copy of your credit report over the phone.
When you get a copy of your credit history, you should make a list of all the collection agencies listed on it. Most debt collectors will report what you owe to one or more of the credit bureaus. You can use these lists to create your own list of debts.
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Some Debts May Not Show Up On Your Credit Report
Most major lenders report account activity to the credit bureaus, but they’re not required to. Therefore, a creditor may not share your account information with the credit bureaus.
Old debts may not be included on your credit report, depending on how old they are. Even if they originally appear on your credit reports, accounts closed in good standing are removed from your reports after 10 years. Accounts closed as a result of late payments are removed after seven.
There are also exceptions to the types of debt you might expect to find on your report. Medical debt, for instance, is generally not listed on credit reports unless it becomes severely past due and is reported as a collection account. Retailer payment plans aren’t commonly reported to the credit bureaus, either.
In some cases, the account will only appear on your credit report if the creditor turns your account over to a debt collection agency. Typically, the original creditor will be listed along with the collection account.
If you don’t see a debt on your credit report, you also can search through old bills or contact creditors to nail down all the debts you owe.
What A Debt Repayment Agent Or Agency Cannot Do
A debt repayment agent or agency cannot:
- charge any fee for an NSF cheque unless the agency has disclosed in writing prior to the submission of the cheque that a fee will be charged
- make any arrangement with you to accept a sum of money that is less than the amount of the balance due to a creditor as a final settlement without the consent of the creditor
- give any false or misleading information including references to the police, law firm, credit history, court proceedings, lien or garnishment
- lend you money to pay your debts
- offer to pay or give you any other form of compensation for entering into a debt repayment agreement
- collect any fee for referring or helping you get an extension of credit from a lender, creditor or service provider
- fail to provide a receipt for all cash transactions or payments made in person or at your request
- discuss your debt or the existence of your debt with any person except you, a guarantor of the debt, your representative or the creditor of the debt
- make a claim for breach of contract if you cancel the repayment agreement
More information is available in the Bill Collection and Debt Repayment tipsheet.
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How Long Before The Collection Agency Reports To The Credit Bureau
Collection agencies must wait 31 days before reporting any debt. If you can pay a delinquent bill before that 31st day, you can likely avoid damage to your credit score and credit report. You have even more time with medical debt. When a collection agency has a medical debt, they have to wait 180 days before reporting it to credit bureaus.
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What Debt Collectors Cant Do
Debt collectors are regulated by the Texas Debt Collection Act. Among other things, the Act prohibits debt collectors from:
Using abusive collection tactics, including:
- threatening violence or other criminal acts
- using profane or obscene language
- falsely accusing the consumer of fraud or other crimes
- threatening arrest of the consumer, or repossession or other seizure of property without proper court proceedings
- using the telephone to harass debtors by calling anonymously or making repeated or continuous calls
- making collect telephone calls without disclosing the true name of the caller before the charges are accepted
Using fraudulent collection tactics, including:
- using a false name or identification
- misrepresenting the amount of the debt or its judicial status
- sending documents to a debtor that falsely appear to be from a court or other official agency
- failing to identify who holds the debt
- misrepresenting the nature of the services rendered by the collection agency or the collector
- falsely representing that the collector has information or something of value in order to discover information about the consumer
- Trying to collect more than the amount originally agreed upon. .
Violators of the Texas Debt Collection Act are subject to criminal and civil penalties. If you think you have been harassed or deceived, you can even seek injunctions and damages against debt collectors.