Have you been contacted by a company called AWA Collections, or has a collection account from the company showed up on your credit report?
If so, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with the company. In this article, we’ll show you how.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore a contact or a credit report entry from AWA Collections.
Collections can be escalated into judgments, which can lead to having your wages garnished and your credit completely destroyed.
Use the strategies in this article or consider getting professional help – which we’ll recommend at the very end.
Is AWA Collections Legit?
AWA Collections is based in Orange, California, though it also has a client services operation in Dixon, Tennessee.
Founded in 1991, they’re hardly a newcomer in the collections universe.
They describe themselves as a licensed and bonded collection agency, offering debt collection, credit bureau reporting, and customized collection programs to their clients.
They also describe themselves as “fair, but firm”. But at the same time, their webpage makes no attempt to describe their business as anything other than collections.
Many collection agencies will use euphemisms to describe their real business, such as “accounts receivable management” or something similar.
They provide collection services for governments, healthcare providers, utilities, telecommunications companies, commercial businesses, and bank card and financial service providers.
This means AWA Collections could be attempting to collect a debt from just about any direction.
AWA Collections has a Better Business Bureau rating of “F”, the lowest rating on a scale running from A+ to F.
The company is not BBB accredited and has had just 64 complaints filed against it through the agency in the past three years.
But the BBB profile of the company indicates it is a legitimate collection agency.
How to Deal with AWA Collections
Despite describing themselves as fair, AWA Collections is first and foremost a collection agency.
That means, though there may be some variations in how they conduct their business, the ultimate outcome will be similar to all collection agencies.
Their sole purpose is to collect on a debt owed to one of their clients.
In dealing with AWA Collections we recommend using the following strategies:
You should understand these four rules before attempting to deal with AWA Collections.
They will not only improve your chances of success but following them may prevent you from hurting your own position in the negotiations.
1. Avoid the phone
Collection agencies love contacting you by phone. This is partially because they can call on a repeated basis, which may annoy you enough to pay the obligation and move on.
But they’re also hoping to draw you into a conversation that could potentially put you into a legal bind.
That’s because collection agencies routinely record all phone calls. By law, they must inform you upfront that the call is being recorded.
Some will simply provide a recorded message – usually while you’re on hold – letting you know the call will be recorded.
Others will disclose the recording in an almost disarming way, telling you the call is being recorded for training purposes.
But the reason why it’s being recorded is so that the collection agency can build a case against you.
For example, they may ask you to provide information that will prove you owe the debt in question. They may also convince you to make a promise to send payment.
All that information, though it may seem like part of the routine collection process, can be used if the company decides to pursue a lawsuit against you.
For this reason, phone conversations with AWA Collections should be kept to an absolute minimum.
In fact, in your first telephone communication with the company insist that all further exchanges be handled by mail.
That will keep the collection agent from getting more information out of you, or other admissions that may help them in a lawsuit.
2. All contact should be in writing
The purpose of communicating in writing is to avoid all the problems that come with phone exchanges. But it’s also to provide you with a paper trail, which you can use if the company does bring a lawsuit against you.
Most important, it offers you an opportunity to limit your discussions with the company. Your letters should be kept brief, and to the point.
You should ask for information, but never provide any. And all correspondence should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
That will ensure that not only were your letters sent, but they were also received by the intended party.
Still another reason for communicating in writing is to eliminate harassing phone calls. It’s much easier for collection agents to pick up the phone and call you than it is to write and send a letter.
Written communication will limit the number of exchanges between you and AWA Collections.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to do it
This rule is super important, so you need to commit it to memory.
Whether you make a promise to pay in a recorded phone conversation or in written correspondence, you can be held legally responsible for that representation.
If you fail to follow through, the collection agency can assert deception on your part, which would certainly help their case in a lawsuit.
Never make a promise to send a payment – or even infer that you might – unless you fully intend to follow through.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
You probably didn’t know that you have a law to protect you from certain abuse from pesky collection agencies.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is something you should definitely know about before dealing with AWA Collections.
Read about your protections on the Debt Collection FAQs page provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You need to be confident in your rights before dealing with any collection agency to give you the upper hand if things get ugly.
Get Professional Help to Deal with AWA Collections
While all the information above will be helpful in dealing with AWA Collections, there are no guarantees.
Dealing with collection agencies is complicated, and they don’t play fair.
If you don’t feel you’re up to the task, or if you have multiple collections, we recommend using a good credit repair company instead.
They know how to settle accounts for less than the full amount owed, and also how to improve your credit report.
However, if AWA 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 Dealing with AWA Collections
Demand AWA Collections Provide You with a Debt Validation Letter
AWA Collections is legally required to provide you with what’s known as a debt validation letter.
The letter must provide complete information on the debt, including the name of the original creditor, the date the account went into collection, the amount of the debt, and information that clearly connects you to the obligation.
Essentially, a debt validation letter serves as the collection agency’s written evidence of the debt and your association with it.
But if they’re unable to provide the letter, or if the information is not complete, you’ll have a basis for disputing the debt.
We’ll cover that process in a little bit.
Request a Goodwill Deletion
If you know the debt AWA Collections claims you owe is legitimate, you may be able to request what’s known as a goodwill deletion.
This is where you make a request to simply have the company delete the collection account from your credit report.
But for that to happen, certain conditions will need to be met.
First, the debt owed must be paid in full at the time of the request. Second, you’ll need to provide a compelling reason why the debt went into collection in the first place.
That will require convincing AWA Collections that the reason for the collection was due to circumstances beyond your control.
That could include the loss of a job, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a prolonged illness, a business failure, or a similar major event.
Your explanation will be even more compelling if you can provide documentation to prove the extenuating circumstance.
If those two conditions exist, you can send AWA Collections a goodwill letter in which you’ll make a request for the company to delete the collection information from your credit reports.
You’re basically be saying “hey, the debt is paid in full, and was the result of life’s circumstances that were beyond my control – can you please delete the collection account”.
This request is not guaranteed to work, and it won’t work in all circumstances and with all companies. But if you meet the conditions, it’s always worth a try.
You’ll be relying on the company’s compassion for their cooperation. In some cases, it actually does happen.
A goodwill deletion will not enable you to avoid paying the debt, but it can undo the damage done on your credit report.
Offer a “Pay-for-Delete” Agreement
This is perhaps the most speculative way to have a collection account deleted from your credit report, but it might be worth a try.
You’ll mail the company what’s known as a pay-for-delete letter.
In that letter, you’ll be asking AWA Collections if they will delete the collection account from your credit report in exchange for you making full payment of the debt.
Since collection agencies are all about collecting debts, an opportunity to receive full payment will be tempting. And you’ll need to make full payment too.
It’s unlikely a collection agency will delete a negative entry on your credit report in exchange for a partial payment.
But even if they do accept your offer in writing, it still may not happen.
The problem is that pay-for-delete isn’t a legally binding arrangement, even if AWA Collections agrees to it in writing.
In fact, they can send you a written agreement, accept your money, then fail to remove the collection from your credit report. You’ll have no legal recourse if that’s how it goes.
Demand Deletion of the Account if AWA Collections Can’t Verify the Debt
This will be the most effective way to both eliminate the debt and have the account removed from your credit report.
A missing or incomplete debt validation letter means the collection agency is unable to fully verify the debt, or prove that it’s your obligation.
By law, they’re supposed to delete the collection account and halt further collection efforts if this is the case.
And even if they don’t, which is not an uncommon situation, you can open a dispute of the debt with all three credit bureaus. They’ll then have 30 days to investigate your dispute.
And if AWA Collections similarly fails to fully verify the debt, the bureaus will delete the information from their records.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the collection agency will stop pursuing you for the debt. Collection agencies don’t play fair, and this is a common example.
Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
Even if AWA Collections is able to fully validate the debt, you may still be able to settle the account for less than the full amount owed.
Now, while this will enable you to pay less than the full amount to settle the debt, it won’t eliminate the collection account.
However, a paid collection is better for your credit score than an open one.
You’ll need to bring out your inner negotiator to make this work. You’ll start by offering an amount well below the actual debt.
For example, you may offer $600 to settle a debt of $1,500.
Collection agencies rarely agree to an initial offer, so you can expect a counteroffer.
You’ll continue going back and forth until you reach a number that’s agreeable to both you and AWA Collections.
Once that happens, send no money until AWA Collections confirms the agreement in writing.
Their letter should confirm they’re accepting less than the full amount in full satisfaction of the debt.
It should also indicate their intent to report the account as paid with all three credit bureaus.
There are two reasons why you must get this letter from AWA Collections before sending any money:
- If you simply send a partial payment, AWA Collections may keep the money, but continue to pursue you for the full amount of the debt.
- If AWA Collections fails to report the account as paid to the three credit bureaus, you can send a copy of the letter to the bureaus, and they’ll correct the information.