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Paid a debt, but was turned over to collections

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I live in the state of Ohio. Last summer a new company bought out the company my cell phone was purchased through. I had cancelled my account, but still owed the balance of my contract. I had started receiving bills from the new company, but didn't know (had never been notified) that they were now the owners of my contract, so I thought it was junkmail and threw them away. Once I realized what was going on (saw an ad on a billboard)I had been getting the statements....what I thought was junk for a couple of months. The next statement that came said I owed a balance of 202.33 which I paid via check through online banking. The check was dated August 8th. I received the next month's statement expecting to see that my account had been paid in full, but the amount was still showing that I owed $202.33 plus an additional $75. I called and was told that my payment had not gotten to them until the 15th and that the next months statement had already been sent out. The additional $75 was the pay off on my contract. I paid that via Master Card right then on the phone.
I then started getting calls from a collection agency saying that I still owed this debt. I informed them that it had been paid and told them when and how it had been paid. I was told they would "kick it back" to the cell phone company. I then heard nothing from them.
Recently we have been trying to get a mortgage loan and to my surprise found that this item was showing up on my credit report. I have totally gotten the run around from both the phone company and the collection agency. The phone company says they sent the account to collections on August 9th 2000 (but accepted 2 payments on this account after that date). They claim they sent the money collected to the collection company on November 3 (Months after the monies had been paid to them). The check was cashed on August 24th. The credit card payment was credited to my account by them on September 28th.
The collection company claims they did not receive the account until August 17th. (Two days after I was told the company received my check) They have no record of any payments being received. I have tried to fax them the correct information, but the fax number she gave me was wrong. When I called them back to get the correct one, I was given the number for the phone company and told I needed to call them. They are now claiming they did not get my check until August 23rd and that they commonly continue to accept payments even though the account is with collections, then forward the money to them. They claim they do it as quickly as possible. They did not send the money to the collection people until November 3rd. The collection agency reported to the credit bureau in October. Now this whole mess is on my credit report and both companies are telling me there is nothing they can do about it and that it is up to the other company to fix it. In the mean time, I have something on my credit report that should never have been on there. Had the phone company indeed already turned my account over to collections, all they had to do was tell me and both payments could have been made directly to the collection agency thus saving them from reporting to the credit bureau.
I know I can report this to the credit bureau to have them investigate, but I don't want it to just show that this has been paid. I want it totally removed from my report. It should never have been on there in the first place and neither company seems to want to fix this. They are both blaming each other.
I want to know if I can sue either company to have this removed from my report and if so, am I allowed to sue for damages as well? Thanks for reading....I know it was long.


Senior Member

First of all, I'm not a lawyer-just a retired banker with an interest in consumer rights.
To begin with, you need to contact the credit bureau and dispute the entry to your credit report. This is important for 3 reasons. To begin with, they may remove it after an investigation. Secondly, should you sue, a question you will be asked by opposing council is why you didn't take steps to limit the damage to your credit when you discovered the entry? Finally, should the credit bureau fail to adequately investigate, you got another deep pocket to sue.
Now then, anyone can sue anybody at any time. The question is can you win? To win you must be damaged. Has this either kept you from obtaining a mortgage or, caused you to have to accept a loan with a higher interest rate? If the answer is yes and the facts are as you state then, I believe you have cause for legal action. Home mortgage rates on 30 year lows and you can't get one or must pay more for one due to the foulup can be quantified in court.
I would suggest speaking with a lawyer and lay out all of the facts. At the very least there would appear to be a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Good luck!


Thank you. I have every intention of writing all three credit reporting agencies about this problem. I was just trying to handle it with the parties involved first. We have only discovered this was on our credit report within the last couple of weeks. We did have a previous bankruptsy, but I have been infomed by several lenders that it was so long ago that it isn't even an issue.
We were able to get a car loan and have been issued a credit card, but the interest rates on both are huge. We naturally assumed it was due to the bankruptsy. It never crossed our minds to get our credit report before.
I have been informed that this is definitely effecting our credit score and have been told not to even apply until it is taken care of or the interest rate will be much higher than it could be if this was not an issue.
In addition to it being on my credit report, it says the last activity on the account was in 1996.....I didn't even have this account until late 98 so it looks like I have left this go since 1996.

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