How To Find Out Which Collection Agency You Owe

how to find out which collection agency you owe

Dealing with a large amount of debt can be stressful and confusing. That’s especially true if one or more debts have been sent to collections. Delinquent debts will harm your credit score and cause collectors to call you day and night. But before you can resolve the problem, you might need to know how to find out which collection agency you owe.

If you aren’t sure who to contact about paying your debt, there are several ways to find out. Read on to learn how to find out which collection agency you owe.

How a Debt Ends up in Collections

If you continue to miss payments on a debt, it becomes delinquent. The creditor will likely make many attempts to collect the debt from you. If it continues to go unpaid, you can go into default. This means you have failed to make your payments as agreed upon in the contract.

At this point, the creditor might decide to send your account to collections. Many creditors have their own internal collections departments. Or they may sell your debt to a third-party debt buyer who will then collect on the delinquent debt themselves or outsource it to a collection agency. Either way, the goal is for the debt collector to recover as much of the debt as possible, either through payment or by negotiating a settlement.

It’s important to note that a debt in collections can have a negative impact on your credit score. The collections agency or law firm collecting the debt may also take legal action if the debt remains unpaid. If you are facing a debt in collections, it’s important to understand your rights and options and take steps to resolve the debt as soon as possible.

How to Find Out Which Collection Agency You Owe

Figuring out who you actually owe can be confusing, especially if your debt has been sold off to an agency. So if you need to find out which collection agency you owe, try the following steps.

Check Your Credit Reports

A credit report is a comprehensive record of your credit history. Each credit reporting agency maintains a separate credit report on you. These are used by lenders, landlords, and other organizations to assess your creditworthiness.

A credit report contains information about your past and current credit accounts — including credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, medical debt, and more — as well as balances owed, payment history, delinquencies, and bankruptcies.

Your credit report should list any credit accounts you have, including collections accounts and the contact information for collection agencies that are handling them. You can get a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at

Reverse-Lookup the Phone Number

If a debt collector called you and left a message, you can use the phone number to find them. Enter the phone number into a search engine like Google or a reverse-lookup tool to find out the name of the organization. Also, look at comments and reviews from other phone call recipients as to whether the organization is legitimate. Remember, a legitimate debt collector will leave a valid number and details about how to get a hold of them. They won’t, however, leave any details about the debt in a message.

Ask the Original Creditor

Sometimes, the original creditor may still own the debt in question. If that’s the case, they can provide a debt validation letter that proves they are the legal owners of the debt. The letter includes how much you owe, and other important details. 

However, if it sold or transferred to a third-party debt buyer, the original creditor may or may not be able to point you in the right direction. In fact, they may not be willing to discuss the debt with you at all. If that’s the case, you’ll need to use other tactics to find the correct debt collection agency.

Wait to Be Contacted

If you know that you have a debt in collections but aren’t sure who you owe, the collections agency will certainly reach out at some point in an attempt to collect the money. You may receive a letter in the mail, a phone call, or even a message on social media. Keep an eye out for these communications so you can respond appropriately. 

How to Tell if a Debt Collector Is Legitimate

There are many debt collection scams out there. Scammers prey on people who are stressed and scared about their debt problems. Don’t respond to a debt collector until you’re sure they’re legitimate.

  • Check for licensing. A legitimate debt collection agency is required to be licensed in the state in which it operates, and often by a particular city like New York City or Buffalo as well. You can check with your state’s licensing authority to verify the legitimacy of the debt collector.
  • Verify the debt. A legitimate debt collector will have information about the original creditor and the amount owed. They should also be able to provide documentation to support their claims about the balance they claim you owe them.
  • Know your rights. Legitimate debt collectors are prohibited from making false or misleading statements, including threats of arrest or legal action they cannot take. Familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which outlines your rights as a consumer and the rules that debt collectors must follow.
  • Check for complaints. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s complaint database to see if there have been any complaints filed against the debt collector.

If you’re unsure whether a debt collector is legitimate, you can contact a debt resolution attorney or consumer protection agency for assistance. And if you suspect fraud, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Get Help With Debt in Collections

If you are facing a complex or serious debt collection issue, or if you are unsure of your rights and responsibilities, consulting with a debt help lawyer is a good idea. An experienced debt relief attorney will ensure your rights are being upheld, and help come up with a plan to resolve your debt once and for all. That may involve negotiating a debt settlement, advising you on  bankruptcy law and your legal rights, or other creative debt solutions.

The Tayne Law Group is an experienced and trusted debt help law firm that may be able to help. We’ve assisted thousands of others with debt problems. Find out how by calling today at (866) 890-7337 or fill out our short contact form to get a free consultation and learn about your options. All information shared is kept confidential and the services or calls are never outsourced to call centers. Your matter is important to us and we pride ourselves on being a trusted resource for those seeking help to resolve their debts.

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