Have you received a call or letter—or perhaps seen an entry for a collection account on your credit report—from a company called AAA Collections?
If so, there’s an excellent chance the company is attempting to collect a past due balance owed to a health care provider or other types of business.
We recommend that you don’t ignore the communication or the entry on your credit report.
Simply ignoring a collection agency can easily invite an escalation from a collection account to a judgment. And, if that happens, you will have no choice but to pay the debt. For example, a collection agency can even garnish your wages until the debt is paid in full.
Whether you agree the debt is yours or not, you’ll need to move quickly to resolve the account, one way or another.
There are different strategies for dealing with a collection agency like AAA Collections.
About AAA Collections
AAA Collections, Inc. is part of the Advanced Asset Alliance (which is almost certainly where the AAA part of the name comes into play).
The website is set up primarily as a payment portal, with little information about the company. According to the Better Business Bureau, the company was founded in 1965 and is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The company doesn’t disclose the types of organizations it represents, but it references both consumers and patients. It’s safe to assume medical collections are a substantial part of their business.
Is AAA Collections Legit?
AAA Collections has a Better Business Bureau rating of “A”, the second-highest rating on a scale running from A+ to F.
The company has been accredited by the BBB since 2015 and is completely legit.
The BBB has received 11 complaints about AAA Collections in the past three years. That’s a surprisingly low number for a collection agency.
The agency answered all 11 complaints, though none were resolved.
Of the few that indicate the reason for the complaint, those mentioned questionable business practices inaccurate billing, harassment, and legal action threats.
How to Deal with AAA Collections
Here are specific strategies for dealing with AAA Collections known to be effective with collection agencies in general.
But, before we get into those, there are some basic rules you’ll need to be aware of that will both improve the likelihood of success and prevent negative consequences.
1. Don’t deal with AAA Collections by phone
Collection agencies love to contact debtors by phone. When they do, they have all the advantages, which is why they love it.
They know the business, which makes it easier for them to intimidate debtors into sending payments. They also have more latitude on the phone.
After all, a phone call leaves you with no written evidence that a collection agent may have violated federal debt collection laws, which could potentially invalidate the debt.
Worst of all, collection agencies record phone conversations. A recorded phone call can serve as evidence against you in a lawsuit.
Collection agents are well-trained at getting both additional information and promises to pay out of consumers.
You should, and have a legal right to insist all future communication take place by written correspondence.
It’s likely your first contact with the company will be by phone. When it happens, provide as little information as possible and insist all future communication be handled in writing.
2. All contact with AAA Collections should be in writing
Written correspondence is always the better way to communicate with collection agencies for all the reasons phone calls are not.
For example, the collection agent cannot threaten you in writing because it would represent written evidence of a violation of federal law.
Insisting on written communication will end the barrage of phone calls collection agencies will make to your home and workplace.
Even more important, this will provide you with a paper trail of all communications with AAA Collections.
If the collection agency threatens to take legal action against you, there may be information in the series of letters that can help you in the case.
In addition to this, the most important benefit of written correspondence is that it prevents you from being cornered on the phone. For example, you could unintentionally supply the collection agency with incriminating information or promise to make payments that you’re not in a position to make.
When sending letters to AAA Collections, always send them by certified mail, return receipt requested.
That will provide you with both evidence of letters you’ve sent, as well as when they were received.
3. Never promise to make a payment
This is probably the biggest mistake debtors make in dealing with collection agents. Pressure from the agent during phone calls often convinces debtors the best strategy is to promise to make a payment—just to be left alone for a few days.
Not only is an unfulfilled promise to pay a collection agency a temporary solution, but it can also get you into legal trouble.
Since collection agencies record phone conversations, they can use your unfulfilled promise to pay as evidence against you in a lawsuit.
Never promise to pay any funds unless you have the money and fully intend to send payment.
4. Familiarize yourself with the FDCPA
You must know your rights as a consumer before things get serious.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was put into place to protect you from certain forms of abuse from collection agencies.
Read up on these protections on the Debt Collection FAQs page provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
This knowledge can give you an advantage while dealing with any collection agency.
Get Professional Help to Deal with AAA Collections
Not everyone is cut out to deal with a collection agency. After all, they’re professionals at that business.
If you decide you’d rather get professional help, we recommend working with a good credit repair company.
A professional can help increase your chances of a positive outcome and help reduce the stress of dealing with AAA Collections personally.
But if AAA Collections threatens you with legal action, you may need to hire a credit attorney.
Lexington Law specializes in credit law and may keep the case from ever making it to court.
Specific Strategies for AAA Collections
Now let’s look at specific strategies for dealing with AAA Collections.
Demand AAA Collections Provide a Debt Validation Letter
In asserting a claim against you, a collection agency must prove the debt is yours. You have a legal right to request that proof.
This can be done by demanding AAA Collections provide you with a debt validation letter.
The letter must provide complete details about the debt, including the amount, the name of the original creditor and the date the account went into collection, and any other information that clearly connects you to the debt.
If AAA Collections does not fulfill this request, or if their letter does not include all of the important information, you may be able to challenge the debt or even have it deleted.
Request a Goodwill Deletion
This is a strategy you can use to remove a collection account from your credit reports; though, it’s not guaranteed to work.
The process will begin by sending AAA Collections a goodwill letter requesting that they delete the collection account from your credit reports as an act of goodwill.
For that to happen, the debt will have to have been fully paid. You’ll also need a compelling reason why the debt turned into a collection in the first place. The success or failure of this effort will rest on your explanation.
You must prove that the collection resulted from a situation beyond your control, like the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a prolonged time of unemployment.
Supplying documentation to support your claim will be much more convincing.
Basically, you’re requesting AAA Collections delete the collection account because
a) the debt was paid in full
b) the reason the account went to collection was for circumstances beyond your control
A goodwill deletion is not guaranteed to work, but it happens in enough cases that it’s worth trying.
Offer a “Pay-for-Delete” Agreement
This is a more risky strategy because the agreement is not legally enforceable.
That is, AAA Collections can agree to this arrangement, accept payment, and then fail to delete the collection account from your credit report.
And, if they do, you’ll have no legal recourse. In fact, the arrangement itself is a violation of the agreement the collection agency has with the credit bureaus.
But, if you have the money to pay off the debt, and your primary interest is having the collection account deleted to improve your credit score, it may be worth trying.
You’ll send AAA Collections a pay-for-delete letter requesting they delete the collection account from your credit reports in exchange for full payment of the debt.
Since collection agencies are anxious to collect the full amount, they may agree to the arrangement.
Even so, don’t be surprised if they agree to the arrangement, accept your payment, then fail to delete the collection from your credit reports. If that’s how they respond, there won’t be anything you can do about it.
Demand Deletion if AAA Collections Can’t Verify the Debt
If AAA Collections either fails to provide you with a debt validation letter or it comes back incomplete, you may be able to demand they cease collection efforts and remove any negative information from your credit report.
However, don’t be surprised if they don’t cooperate. Collection agencies don’t always play by the rules.
If they don’t, you’ll be able to open a dispute with the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—who will then be required to investigate your claim within 30 days.
The credit bureaus themselves will delete the collection if they cannot get the necessary information from AAA Collections.
Settle the Debt with AAA Collections for Less than the Full Amount Owed
If AAA Collections’ claim against you is legitimate, this may be your best strategy to settle the matter.
Settling makes the collection account disappear from your credit reports. This will also allow you to settle the debt for less than the amount they’re asking for.
Don’t be afraid that you’re proposing something unusual to the collection agency. Settling an account for less than the full amount due is a common arrangement for collections.
You’ll send AAA Collections a letter offering to settle the account for no more than 50% of the amount due—less if you think they may bite.
If they’re willing to negotiate, they’ll counteroffer with a higher amount. From there, you’ll go back and forth until you both agree on a dollar amount.
Do not send money until you receive a letter from AAA Collections that confirms the details of the arrangement.
The company must agree that they will:
- accept the reduced amount in full satisfaction of the debt
- cease collection actions against you
- report the account as paid to all 3 credit bureaus
Only once you receive this letter from AAA Collections should you send any money.
Unfortunately, collection agencies have been known to verbally agree to reduced settlement amounts, accept the payment, and then pursue the debtor for the remainder of the funds.
Without a letter proving the settlement agreement, they can legally pursue you for the balance.