Summary: Is a collection account from National Credit Systems dragging your credit score down? Follow these steps to resolve the debt and improve your credit history.
Having a company you’ve never heard of contact you and demand money is more than just uncomfortable. It’s scary!
Just think about the damage a collection account can do to your credit score, and imagine a collection agency filing a suit against you.
But don’t panic. You can deal with debt collectors like National Credit Systems (NCS). Let’s walk through some of your options to kick the past-due debt to the curb.
Who is National Credit Systems and Are They Legit?
National Credit Systems, Inc. is a collection agency headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company specializes in recovering money owed to apartment owners and managers.
It’s a legit company that’s been in business since 1991.
If you moved out before your lease was up and owe an early termination fee that you didn’t pay, you might get a call from NCS.
They’re one of the biggest debt collectors serving apartment owners and managers. The company claims to have collected more debt than any other company in the U.S.
Unfair Practices from National Credit Systems Inc
A word of caution before we dive into the best way to remove the collection account from your credit report:
NCS won’t make it easy.
Several complaints have been filed by people trying to negotiate with them. The company was even sued in 2017 for unfair debt collection practices!
The court document states the collection letter they sent to consumers was “false, misleading and confusing to the unsophisticated consumer.”
That directly violates your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Plus, the debt was time-barred. That means the debt was so old that the statute of limitations kicked in and said the borrower could no longer be sued.
National Credit Systems Inc is more challenging to deal with than the average debt collector.
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How to Deal With NCS
If you’re hearing from National Credit Systems – or any collection agency – there are things that you can (and should) do. There are also two things that you should not do:
- Don’t Panic. It won’t help.
- Don’t ignore the situation. That won’t help either. They won’t go away.
That’s what you shouldn’t do, but what should you do?
Here’s where to start.
1. Know Your Rights
The rights of debtors and the obligations of debt collectors are spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Here are some key points.
- A debt collector cannot call you before 8AM or after 9PM.
- A debt collector cannot call your place of employment.
- If you have a lawyer, the collector must communicate with your lawyer.
- A debt collector may not communicate with your friends or family members or tell them about your debts.
- Debt collectors cannot threaten to harm you, your reputation, or your property, or use profane language.
- Debt collectors must identify themselves and the company they represent. They cannot claim to be law enforcement or other officials.
- A debt collector cannot threaten you with imprisonment or seizure of assets.
For a full review of your rights under the FDCPA see this summary from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
2. Validate and Verify the Debt
A debt collector must supply the following information to you within five days of the first time they contact you.
- The amount you owe.
- The name of the creditor.
- A notice that you have 30 days to dispute the debt.
This is called debt validation and the information is usually contained in a debt validation letter.
If you do not dispute the debt within 30 days, it is presumed valid. Always dispute debts. To dispute the account you will send a debt verification letter. Send the debt collector a certified letter asking for the following.
- How much you owe.
- The name and address of the original creditor.
- Proof that you owe the debt.
- The date of the original debt.
- Proof that the collector has legal standing to pursue collection efforts in your state.
Send the letter to National Credit Systems by certified mail.
Remember the difference between a debt validation letter, which the collection agency sends to you, and a debt verification letter, which you send to them.
Once you receive the debt validation letter you have 30 days to send your debt verification letter.
Remember that even if you know the debt is yours, the more important issue is whether they know it’s yours.
Because guess what?
If they can’t prove it’s yours, they can’t report it to the credit bureaus.
They might not be able to come up with that proof. Remember, National Credit Systems purchased your debt, in bulk with a bunch of other debt, from the original creditor.
Who knows what was lost in the shuffle?
The onus is on them to provide proof. If they can’t, they’re required by law to remove it from your credit report.
Remember the Statute of Limitations
Always check the date of the debt against the statute of limitations in your state. If the statute of limitations has expired, the collector cannot pursue legal action against you.
The statute of limitations clock begins on the date when the debt was first reported as delinquent.
Remember that making a payment or acknowledging that the debt is yours can restart the statute of limitations.
The expiry of the statute of limitations will not remove an account from your credit record. If the statute of limitations has expired or will expire soon there’s a good chance that the seven-year period of appearance on your credit record is also nearly up.
If the statute of limitations is nearly up your best bet might be to just wait it out.
3. Stop Calls from National Credit Systems NOW
You could get as many as 15 calls per day, according to a Consumer Credit Card Market Report.
That’s way too many.
But you can’t just call them and ask them to stop.
Follow these simple steps to stop the calls.
- Write a “stop contact” or “cease” letter telling them to stop contacting you.
- Make a copy for yourself and mail the original to National Credit Systems.
- To prove you sent the letter, send it by certified mail with “return receipt requested.”
Use this address:
National Credit Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 312125
Atlanta, GA 31131
Make sure you follow these exact steps.
If you do, the National Consumer Law Center states, “the collector can only acknowledge the letter and notify you about legal steps the collector may take.”
When you stop the phone calls, you get some breathing room. Remember that you still owe the debt, and the collector can take legal action.
Then you can tackle the next step.
Pro tip: Send the letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested” so you have proof the company received it.
4. Contest the Debt With the Credit Bureaus
If you believe that you do not owe the debt or that the collection agency has failed to validate the debt, you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus. You will need to dispute the account separately with each credit bureau.
Credit Reporting Bureau Mailing Addresses
|P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374-0256||P.O. Box 9701 Allen, TX 75013||P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016-2000|
You can also dispute it online:
The credit bureau must investigate and verify your debt. If they cannot, they must remove it from your credit record.
Remember that even if the debt is removed from your credit record, the collection agency can still pursue collection efforts.
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5. Settle With A Pay For Delete Agreement
While occasionally the collection debt isn’t yours, most of the time, it is. If that’s the case, a settlement is one way to resolve the situation.
Remember that debt collectors pay, on average, 4 cents for every dollar of debt that they buy. That gives you room to negotiate. A collector can accept less than you owe and still make a profit.
An article from U.S. News & World Report found that collection agencies will settle for between 40-60% of the balance – which could mean thousands of dollars saved.
You might offer 10% of your balance to see what they say.
They’ll probably ask for more, but don’t let them push you around. With a little negotiation, you can reach an agreement you’re comfortable with.
Pay for Delete
A collection agency may agree to remove your account from your credit record if you settle your debt. This is a “pay for delete” arrangement.
When you discuss a settlement, ask the collection agency representative if they will delete your record if you pay. Send a formal “pay for delete letter” to confirm the arrangement and ask for a written commitment.
Remember that you cannot compel a credit bureau to remove a legitimate account from your record. It will be recorded as paid, but it may remain on your credit report for seven years from the date when the account first became delinquent.
A pay-for-delete arrangement is a gamble. It may not work, but it’s worth trying. If they accept the settlement you will no longer have to deal with the collection agency, and that’s a big plus.
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After much testing, we have put written a great pay to delete letter you can use to get started.
Pro tip: They will probably tell you they don’t offer pay for delete agreements or settle for less than you owe, but they do. This is the biggest reason you should only communicate in writing using certified mail – you have proof.
What If They Sue?
Yes, it could happen. Debt collectors routinely file lawsuits against debtors, even for relatively small amounts.
If a debt collector sues you, do not ignore the lawsuit. Respond and follow all court instructions. Remember that you cannot go to jail for owing money, but you can be jailed for ignoring a court order, or even for failure to appear in some cases.
Be sure to read or guide to what to do if you’re sued by a debt collector.
You’re Not Alone
No one likes to see a collections account on their credit report.
You might think paying off the debt is the easiest way to get rid of it.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Paid collection accounts can still show up on your credit report. Since the goal is to remove National Credit Systems from your credit report, you need to take a few extra steps.
But it’s possible.
So take a deep breath and remember that you’re not a slave to your debt.