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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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An apartment complex I lived in incorrectly reported that my

Customer Question

An apartment complex I lived in incorrectly reported that my last payment was never made and it was placed on my credit report as a delinquent account or collections account. The apartment manager is and has been fully aware of this and "apologizes for the ongoing mistake; and will make sure it's corrected for sure this time" but yet over a year later it's still there, negatively affecting my credit score. I've even contacted their direct contact at their collection agency. She immediately reached out to the apartment manager as the collection agency information is not to be shared with the public, and at that time I was again assured within 30 business days it would be gone, removed as if it were never there, so said the collection agency Valerie and the apartment manager Ernestina. That was at the end of January. I last email Ernestina a few days ago and now received a reply from Jennifer, the assistant manager. I've located their local corporate office here in town am going to bring the matter to their attention, but what then? What's my next step? How do I get this actually corrected? And IF it's ever "removed" will it actually be gone from my credit report, as if it were never there? Should I be pursuing this further, more aggressively? Should I be owed or should I ask for any compensation? If so how do I proceed with that? What's required? Bot***** *****ne- they know they're in the wrong, I have emails from them admitting and apologizing repeatedly, so it seems to be I should easily be able to get this corrected; how do I do that exactly?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
Because the report is incorrect, and it's not just an old debt that's been paid, removal would mean it will be deleted as if it never existed. Your credit score should be returned to whatever it was before this happened.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires a credit bureau to investigate and remove incorrect reports from your credit report. If it's still there, then you may want to file a second dispute or talk to a supervisor (I wish I could say that it's as easy to remove incorrect reports as it should be, but people frequently have to file multiple reports).
Here is an article on writing a final demand letter to the credit reporting agency AND the landlord, letting them know that you'll sue for Fair Credit Violations if they do not fix your report. If the letter is sent via certified mail, they may realize that you're serious about this.
There's a sample letter here (scroll down to #3).
If you're forced to go to court, federal law allows you to seek damages of $100 to $1,000, plus attorney's fees and punitive damages. 15 U.S.C. 1681n. That's something you can specify in your letter (you can even print and send them the statute).
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response, very helpful and informative! I'll be pursuing this matter further.
I do have some follow up questions regarding my credit report. I have other delinquent or collection accounts I can now pay. Is it best to contact the debit collector and pay the collections? If I do will the account be removed from my credit report as if never there, or will it show the account as paid, or something else? Will it help my credit score to pay these off? Once paid they should be removed or what have you within 30 days, correct? If I'm making a payment with them over the phone how can I guarantee they'll do what they say? How can I get something in writing before paying, or do I need to? And on some of the larger collections what's the best way to haggle down the amount owed? Or if we set up a payment arrangement on the exact or a different amount once the payments are done will it automatically be removed? And again if we agree to a different amount over the phone do I/how do I get that in writing or something before paying?
Again, really appreciate the information, I'm trying hard to get my credit on track after other people's and my own mistakes.
Thank you.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
When a delinquent account is paid, your report will be updated to show that the debt was paid. However, the note that it was delinquent stays, because that's accurate information. Your credit score should begin to recover once those delinquent debts are paid - otherwise, it takes several years for them to drop off before your credit score starts to improve.
A payment arrangement won't remove the delinquent notice from your credit report. The debt has to be brought current or paid in full - and again, the old notice stays.
There really isn't a single "best" way to negotiate a settlement. It's something people acquire over time and depends a lot on the personalities involved. You may want to see if your library has books on negotiation you can read - Getting to Yes is a good one from a while back. If you agree to a different amount, that should be in writing to prove that there was an agreement.

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