How to handle bill collectors bothering you about debts you don’t


I read an item in The Chicago Tribune that is so typical of the carelessness among some credit reporting agencies.

There was a couple who were being hassled by a collector over a supposed $100 cell phone bill from nine years ago. The only problem was they were never a customer of the company. (This was not a case of identity theft, it was just a big snafu.)

Even if the bill were theirs, the law says that this debt can only be on your report for seven years. Period. That’s the law. But this collector, trying to basically extort money from this couple, illegally put it on their credit report.

When The Chicago Tribune reporter started digging into the story, the cell company simply said, “We’ve resolved the issue with the Edwards.” No apology, no nothing! The company just instructed the agency to remove the item from the couple’s credit.

I get so angry when collectors behave in a sloppy and careless way, as if the laws of the United States don’t matter. The thing is, what you don’t know regarding your credit can hurt you. People will put lies on your credit and illegally list debts way past the time they’re allowed to be on your report.

You have the right to access your reports once a year at Take advantage of it. If there is funny stuff on your report, maybe it is something you forgot to deal with. But just as likely, maybe it shouldn’t be there.

I had this happen to me, similar to what happened to this couple. See how I handled it.

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