Bad faith collection practices here? What to do?

7 Replies

TLDR: Creditor made zero true effort to contact me to settle a debt I couldn't have reasonably known about. I want the information off my credit report. Need advice on fighting it. 

Hey BP, I need advice on how to remove past due information off my credit report based on what I'll call "lack of reasonable effort & diligence on part of creditor". That creditor is Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE).

I expect the answer is ''just file a dispute", but need to know what to put in that letter to make it most effective, and any other relevant advice. Like what to say or not say when I call the collection agency.

It has to do with rental property that has a "automatic change" to the owner when a tenant moves out and closes their account. During a tenant turnover, the bill went back into my name, and a bill was created. This was back in January 2021. Fine, happy to pay it, but I have to know about it. It's worth mentioning the house is managed by a property management company and is over 1000 miles away. 

BGE has my phone number and email address, but the bills were being sent in paper form to the rental house. Well, BGE never made contact with me by phone or email, even though they claim they did. The tenants in the house probably got the bills in the mail and just ignored them. I'd do the same if it were me, and the tenants don't know me, they just deal with the property management company.

After 8 months of "trying to contact me" hahahaha, BGE sent the bill to a collection agency. The collection agency never called, texted, or emailed me about the debt either; it seems they've had the account for a month or so. But they did report it to Equifax. I just found on out now when I applied for financing and got my scores in the mail. Now my credit score fell to 665 at Equifax where my other bureau scores are over 800. I haven't called them yet, just learned about this today and putting together a strategy.

Obviously, I am irritated that I never got a fair shake to settle the debt. Seems the dirty little trick and lazy method of debt collection is to report the credit bureau straightaway...I mean why not handle more accounts and collect on more accounts instead of wasting time picking up the phone, emailing, or otherwise tracking me down?

If I word it in the dispute letter that no effort was made to contact me by BGE or the collection agency, seems like that's the same as appearing in court and telling the judge that I didn't do the crime. Sure, that's what they all say. Based on other credit history, I have some credibility in that I'd probably pay it, beyond that, I have nothing. 

I figure just make a deal with the collection agency that if I pay they removed it from report. Is this how it goes? 

Any advice, magic bullets? Thanks!

Hey Larry, that sucks and this may not help much, but I've written some letters to the credit bureaus and just stated my case without hardcore evidence. It worked, but that was over 15 years ago. 

I'll let the professionals weigh in on this, but just telling you this like we're strangers chatting at a bar so take it with a grain of salt, but I believe it puts the onus back on the creditor or collection agency to reinstate it or show proof they really did try to contact you if you dispute it. If they never reply or can't prove it, then it will be removed by the bureaus. You kind of have the last word. I'm curious how this will work out for you. Good luck! 

Despite all the federal laws passed to force collection companies to be more ethical, they all know no one is watching them. So, they really haven't changed their extortion practices.

You may need to offer to pay it, but ONLY if they agree in writing to delete all references of the collection account with all THREE major credit bureaus. Make sure you get that agreement in writing BEFORE you pay. Worse-case, you can send the letter to the bureaus and they will remove the negative data.

Well , I do know BGE will send you an email when they do the change over in addition to the letter . You had to give them the correct info up front .  In order to get anything done you will need a manager at BGE , they are pretty good at getting back to you . 

Originally posted by @Larry Bowers :

TLDR: Creditor made zero true effort to contact me to settle a debt I couldn't have reasonably known about. I want the information off my credit report. Need advice on fighting it. 

Hey BP, I need advice on how to remove past due information off my credit report based on what I'll call "lack of reasonable effort & diligence on part of creditor". That creditor is Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE).

I expect the answer is ''just file a dispute", but need to know what to put in that letter to make it most effective, and any other relevant advice. Like what to say or not say when I call the collection agency.

It has to do with rental property that has a "automatic change" to the owner when a tenant moves out and closes their account. During a tenant turnover, the bill went back into my name, and a bill was created. This was back in January 2021. Fine, happy to pay it, but I have to know about it. It's worth mentioning the house is managed by a property management company and is over 1000 miles away. 

BGE has my phone number and email address, but the bills were being sent in paper form to the rental house. Well, BGE never made contact with me by phone or email, even though they claim they did. The tenants in the house probably got the bills in the mail and just ignored them. I'd do the same if it were me, and the tenants don't know me, they just deal with the property management company.

After 8 months of "trying to contact me" hahahaha, BGE sent the bill to a collection agency. The collection agency never called, texted, or emailed me about the debt either; it seems they've had the account for a month or so. But they did report it to Equifax. I just found on out now when I applied for financing and got my scores in the mail. Now my credit score fell to 665 at Equifax where my other bureau scores are over 800. I haven't called them yet, just learned about this today and putting together a strategy.

Obviously, I am irritated that I never got a fair shake to settle the debt. Seems the dirty little trick and lazy method of debt collection is to report the credit bureau straightaway...I mean why not handle more accounts and collect on more accounts instead of wasting time picking up the phone, emailing, or otherwise tracking me down?

If I word it in the dispute letter that no effort was made to contact me by BGE or the collection agency, seems like that's the same as appearing in court and telling the judge that I didn't do the crime. Sure, that's what they all say. Based on other credit history, I have some credibility in that I'd probably pay it, beyond that, I have nothing. 

I figure just make a deal with the collection agency that if I pay they removed it from report. Is this how it goes? 

Any advice, magic bullets? Thanks!

 You are not going to like my answer, but it is the truth. How is this their fault? You setup a landlord account and they automatically transfer billing to your name. Most likely you have the option to setup mail or electronic billing. It sounds like you setup mail billing to the rental property. Your tenant likely discarded multiple bills and late statements. They have an online portal, so you could have paid the bill there. Either you or your property manager dropped the ball. It is really that simple. 

https://www.bge.com/MyAccount/...

My advice is pay your bill ASAP. There is no dispute that these charges are legitimate. You can ask to have it removed based on the circumstances. 

It is not the same as going to court and saying you didn't do the crime. It is like doing the crime and showing up in court 8 months after they issued the arrest warrant, claiming the officer didn't try hard enough to arrest you. Either way, you did the crime.

@Joe Splitrock Yes, I did set up the account with my current email address & phone number and verified that before making my original post. I am not denying I owe the money or trying to weasel out of it. The rub is that both BGE and the collection agency didn't make any serious effort to let me know there was a bill and they way I had to find out about it is on my credit report. If someone owed you money and you had their email address, wouldn't you use it to see about getting the debt settled? Wouldn't you do that before reporting the credit bureau? 

Stuff happens. 😀 I called and settled now. Just a shame, it didn't have to go like that. 

@Matthew Paul yes, they were very courteous @ BGE with me. I am surprised they never reached out to me, but the bill was already out of their hands by the time I called, I had to deal with the collection agency only. 

Originally posted by @Larry Bowers :

@Joe Splitrock Yes, I did set up the account with my current email address & phone number and verified that before making my original post. I am not denying I owe the money or trying to weasel out of it. The rub is that both BGE and the collection agency didn't make any serious effort to let me know there was a bill and they way I had to find out about it is on my credit report. If someone owed you money and you had their email address, wouldn't you use it to see about getting the debt settled? Wouldn't you do that before reporting the credit bureau? 

Stuff happens. 😀 I called and settled now. Just a shame, it didn't have to go like that. 

@Matthew Paul yes, they were very courteous @ BGE with me. I am surprised they never reached out to me, but the bill was already out of their hands by the time I called, I had to deal with the collection agency only. 

 The main reason that the collection agencies report to bureaus is to garner action to pay bills. People take notice and the money gets paid quickly if it hits your bureau. Those who don't care about their credit are the ones who collection calls. I know it sucks, but that is how they operate. 

We track bills when we have vacancy and check them off on a checklist to make sure they get paid. I have had similar issues where bills were sent to properties, even when I gave them my home address. People are sloppy and lazy, so I assume mistakes will be made and we watch it like a hawk. 

@Larry Bowers I had the exact thing happen to me - had a medical bill not covered and they sent a bill to my CHILDHOOD address I haven't lived at since 1997. It was $45 and some change. I've never had insurance in my own name at that address so no clue how they got it. I called and told them I would pay in full over the phone with the agreement they completely remove from credit. They agreed, but instead marked as "paid" collection which still hurts you. I called a second time and had them remove it completely as promised. It took 60 days but spiked my score back up 120 points or so where it should have been. Definitely worth a few calls but stay after them to make sure they do what they say.