If you have had trouble paying your power bill, you may begin hearing from BGE Collections.
The pandemic has created economic difficulties for everyone. It has caused many families to choose between paying their bills and providing food for their families.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean much to the companies that you owe money to.
BGE Collections is the name given to the collections arm of Baltimore Gas and Electric.
They will begin calling you and sending you letters in an attempt to get you to pay, but that isn’t the worst of it.
By law, they must contact the credit bureaus and open a collection account on your credit report before they can pursue you for a debt.
This account is highly detrimental to your credit score and may remain on your report for nearly a decade.
In order to stop their collection efforts, you must first dispute the debt and remove the account from your record.
Keep reading for our in-depth guide on how to do just that.
What is BGE Collections?
As we mentioned before, BGE Collections is a part of Baltimore Gas and Electric, the largest gas and electric provider in the state of Maryland.
You will begin to hear from them if you fall behind on your gas and electric bill.
These two entities are one and the same, but you may see them listed as “BGE Collections” on your credit report.
Does the Law Protect Me Against BGE Collections?
Having a bill go to collections is an unpleasant experience for everyone. Companies lose resources and energy by contacting you for payment, and you are pressed to find money in their budget to pay them back in the first place.
Many collection agencies and departments utilize a number of unpleasant taxes to get you to pay them first. What they don’t want you to know is that many of these methods are in direct violation of federal law.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in the seventies to prevent debt collectors from acting like common thugs when pursuing a customer for payment.
It prohibited a number of practices including:
- Using profane or abusive language
- Calling at unreasonable hours
- Contacting anyone but you regarding the debt
- Reporting inaccurate information about your debt
- Threatening criminal charges
You can read up on your rights under the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
If things start to get ugly with BGE Collections, you can remind them of your rights under the law – and even file a complaint with the CFPB.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
How to Deal with BGE Collections
Here are the three steps to follow in dealing with BGE Collections and how to remove the collection from your credit report.
Ask for Written Communication
In addition to the rights listed above, the FDCPA also gives you the right to request written communication from BGE Collections.
I suggest that you request this quickly after you start getting calls from them.
Written communication from a debt collector can help you in several ways.
First, it sets professional precedence for all of your interactions with BGE Collections.
It is very unlikely that you will receive the sort of threats and abuses from them that you might get on a phone call.
Second, it allows you to keep track of all your correspondence with them. You can hang onto each piece of mail and refer back to them if BGE Collections’ conditions start to become inconsistent.
Finally, written communication allows you to hold them accountable for the agreements they make with you.
This will become important down the line when you negotiate a deletion with them.
BGE Collections should honor your request for written communication as soon as you make it.
If they start to talk back or give you problems, tell them that they are in violation of the FDCPA and hang up.
Request Debt Validation
Once you have requested written communication, your next step will be to request debt validation from BGE Collections.
Debt validation is a process that ensures that the debt you are being pursued for is legitimate and accurate.
If they are attempting to collect on a fraudulent debt, this process will stop them in their tracks.
Be aware that debt validation is a time-limited step. You only have 30 days from the first time you hear from BGE Collections to request validation, so make sure you act quickly.
You must write them a debt validation letter to request debt validation. This is an official request for a collector to send you proof that the debt is yours and that they can collect it.
Request a return receipt from the carrier when you send your letter. This will notify you when BGE Collections receives your request.
BGE Collections should respond to your request within 30 days. If they are unable to provide proof of your debt, they are obligated to contact the credit bureaus and remove the collection account from your credit report.
Make a Pay-For-Delete Agreement
If BGE Collections is able to verify your debt, you will need to take a different approach. You will need to make a pay-for-delete agreement to remove their account from your official record.
Pay-for-delete agreements are the standard type of settlement that customers make with debt collectors.
In essence, you pay for all or a portion of your debt, and BGE Collections agrees to remove their account from your credit report.
The benefit for BGE Collections is obvious, but why should you care about removing a collections account?
Collection accounts damage your credit score and remain on your record for as long as seven years.
Lenders and creditors are able to make loan decisions based on your credit report, and you will either be denied flat out or given astronomical interest rates.
Therefore, removing the account is in your best interest as it could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest payments down the line.
Start negotiations with BGE Collections by offering to pay half of the overall debt. Work with them until you reach an amount at which they are comfortable removing the account.
Draft up a contract that clearly states the terms and conditions and have BGE Collections sign it. Hang onto this in case they try to go back on their word once they receive your first payment.
BGE Collections should contact the major credit bureaus and remove their account within a month of getting your payment.
If they do not, call them and remind them that you have the agreement in writing. This should inspire them to get moving on their promise.
Still Having Trouble? Get Professional Help
If you’re not comfortable dealing with BGE Collections on your own, there are a number of companies out there that can help you.
Credit repair companies are industry professionals that act as the middleman between consumers and debt collectors.
They work with the agency to remove the account from your credit report and can even negotiate lower payments.
If you’re looking for a reputable credit professional to work with, look no further than Lexington Law.
They have years of experience with companies like BGE Collections and can prevent your situation from escalating to court.