A couple of months ago, my parents got a letter from Debt
Recovery Solutions, LLC, stating that I owed the company a
$131.98 payment on a Verizon Account I had in New York. My first
thought was, "Is this a debt collection agency scam?!" I was
suspicious because a few strange things popped out at me
from the start. I hadn't lived in New York for a couple of years,
the letter was sent to my parent's address, and I always pay my
bills. I wasn't completely convinced that it was a scam, though,
because I did have difficulty closing my account with
Verizon when I moved to a different country.
Photo source: Flickr.
When I did a search for the company, a legitimate-looking
website popped up, and it had a strong rating with the Better
Business Bureau. Had there been a mistake? Was one of my bills
left unpaid? I had to do some investigating.
A quick google search led me to
plenty of horror stories
about Debt Recovery Solutions. If a debt collection agency
puts a mark on your account, it can
negatively affect your credit
making it difficult make big purchases such as a house or
car. Luckily, it's easy to protect yourself in these
types of situations. Here is a guide for what to look out for,
and how to battle debt collection agency scammers.
1. Don't pay anything before doing your research.
This was my first lucky break. If my finances were a little
stronger, I wouldn't have thought twice about paying this bill.
The dates worked out and, like I mentioned, there was a
possibility that something was messed up when I cancelled my
account and was out of the country. In fact, when I was living in
Asia, my mother called to mention I hadn't made my last payment.
I took care of it right away, but thought that something might of
been overlooked on Verizon's end. I decided to call Verizon to
find out if they knew anything about this account.
I later learned that people who
pay off their debts through Debt Recovery Solutions, where
years of harassment
from agents belonging to that company. Even if you don't
keep a close eye on your finances, it's important to not
take these payment requests lightly.
2. DO NOT call the number provided on the letter.
You do not want to give debt collection agencies any more
information than they already have. My experience wasn't as bad
as it could've been because it was really difficult for Debt
Recovery Solutions to get a hold of me. When I got the letter, my
first instinct was to call so they could help me look up my
account to see if I actually owed this money. But that
would've probably led to me accidentally giving them banking
information or personal info that would've made it easier for
them to harass me and mess with my credit score.
Again, I caught a lucky break because I'd moved four
times and had three new phone numbers since I'd cancelled
my account with Verizon. (No, I am not running from the
law. Yes, I am a psycho.) When I called Verizon, I spoke
to two representatives: one told me that my account was
sold to a debt collection agency, and another told me
that my account was wiped from the system -- neither
confirmed whether or not I owed debt. Even though this
didn't help me, I still suggest you call the company from
which the "debt" was bought, NOT the debt collection
This worried me because I thought if Verizon "sold" my
information to a Debt Collection Agency, then I must've owed them
payments. This is NOT TRUE -- these collection agencies are
consistently buying up old accounts for their own purposes.
3. Check your credit score and put an alert on your
As I read more about people who had their credit scores tampered
with, I began to freak out. Having a bad credit score can affect
more than just your ability to make big purchases; it can make it
difficult to get a job
, a place to live and more. If you are currently battling with a
bad credit score there are plenty of ways to
get back on track
, but letting a debt collection agency have their way with you
can be debilitating.
I instantly went on to
Equifax to get my free credit score
and was relieved to see no one from Debt Recovery Solutions
had requested to access my account. Equifax offers individuals
the opportunity to flag their account. By flagging your account,
you can pre-emptively state that if a debt recovery agency puts
any marks on your account Equifax will contact you with
fraudulent activity. In retrospect, I realized that Debt Recovery
Solutions didn't have access to my credit information; but,
had I made the mistake of calling, they may have squeezed that
information out of me.
4. Send a debt validation letter.
Once I saw that Debt Recovery Solutions had not yet reached
my credit score, I could relax a little, but I still needed
closure. I decided to send them a debt validation
citing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
. According to a standard debt validation letter, collection
agents have 30 days to provide you with the following:
- What the alleged debt is for
- Explain and show how they calculated what
they say you owe
- Provide you with copies of any papers that show you agreed
to pay what they say you owe
- Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if
- Identify the original creditor
- Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this
- Show you that they are licensed to collect in
- Provide you with their license numbers and Registered
The letter also threatens legal action if they do not comply
with the provisions stated in the letter. This letter is a great
tool to use if you are being scammed. Although I should note, if
you have, or suspect that you have, valid debt, this letter
can actually harm your credit score
in the long run. Make sure that you are confident you do
not have outstanding debt.
To sum up...
Getting a debt collection letter is not only unpleasant, it's
downright scary. If you ever find yourself as the recipient of
one of these nasty notes and you think it's a scam, make sure
- Go back through your payment history and make sure you
never got a past due bill.
- Do not contact the company, instead write them
- Check your credit score and put an alert on your
- Write a debt validation letter if you're sure the debt
I am still not sure if Debt Recovery Solutions is a scam or
not. According to the Better Business Bureau, their company has a
solid score (which is hard to believe considering all the
negative things I'd read online), and, as I mentioned earlier,
their website seems to be legitimate. But according to chat
forums I've read, the company seems to rip off a lot of people.
If you're contacted from this specific debt collection agency,
I'd be distrustful.
This article originally appeared on
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4 Steps to Follow if a Debt Collection Agency
Scam Is Happening to You
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