Have you received a phone call or correspondence from a company called CMRE Financial Services, or has a collection account from the company been entered on your credit report?
If so, you’ll need to deal with the company, even if you’re certain you don’t owe the debt.
CMRE Financial Services is a collection agency, and they will use all the tactics common to all collection agencies to get paid.
That could include harassing phone calls, ugly entries on your credit report bringing down your credit score, and even possible legal action in extreme circumstances.
That’s why you’ll need to deal with CMRE Financial Services even if you don’t think you need to.
Who is CMRE Financial Services?
Based in Brea, California, CMRE Financial Services has been a collection agency going all the way back to 1974.
They describe themselves as a collection and accounts receivable management service for the healthcare industry.
Chances are if the company contacts you or you see a collection account on your credit report, it’s for a past medical bill.
Those are easy to forget because it’s common to receive a blizzard of medical bills after a hospital stay for a significant medical procedure.
It’s entirely possible a bill slipped through the cracks or was possibly turned over to a collection agency, before even contacting you.
The fact that CMRE Financial Services is a collection agency for the healthcare industry is both good and bad.
The good part is that healthcare providers are often willing to settle outstanding debts for less than the full amount, especially if the debt has been hanging around for a few years.
But the bad news—as we all know—is that healthcare-related bills can be high, running into several thousand dollars.
CMRE Financial Services isn’t a scam, but a legitimate company, and that’s why you shouldn’t ignore them.
They have a Better Business Bureau rating of “A+”, which is the BBB’s highest rating on a scale running from A+ to F.
What To Do After CMRE Financial Services Contacts You
Putting first things first, if CMRE Financial Services contact you or you see a collection account listed on your credit report, never ignore it!
Collection agencies have various strategies to get you to pay a debt, and the situation can get worse with each passing day.
You’ll have to make a decision if you want to deal with CMRE Financial Services on your own, or get professional help.
That help can come in the form of a credit repair company, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Your first contact with CMRE Financial Services is likely to be by phone, either because they’ve called you or because you’re responding to either a letter from them or a negative entry on your credit report.
When it happens, make sure you’re the one asking all the questions, but not answering any of theirs.
Also, immediately write down whatever was discussed in the phone call, as well as who you spoke with, their phone number, and the exact date and time of the call.
How To Remove CMRE Financial Services from Your Credit Report
Communicate Only in Writing
Your first phone contact with the company should also be your last.
Collection agencies routinely report phone conversations, which they may use against you in a lawsuit.
You’re also more likely to ramble or to make promises you can’t keep in a phone conversation.
For that reason, all future communication with CMRE Financial Services needs to be in writing.
Keep your letters brief and to the point, and never volunteer unnecessary information.
All letters you send should be by certified mail, so you have a track record of your communications with the company.
Request Debt Validation
During your initial exchange with CMRE Financial Services, your job will be to gather as much information about the debt as possible.
That information either will confirm the debt is yours or provide evidence that it isn’t.
Start by demanding CMRE Financial Services provide you with what’s known as a debt validation letter.
The letter contains the information they’re legally required to supply to you.
That includes the name of the original creditor, the original amount owed, the date the debt was first incurred, the day it went into collection, and other information that connects you with the debt.
If they don’t provide a letter, or if it comes back with incomplete information, it could be an indication that either the debt is not legitimate or you are not the person who owes it.
That being the case, you can demand CMRE Financial Services remove the collection account from your credit report, and cease further collection activities.
Negotiate a Settlement
This is where things get a bit more complicated. If CMRE Financial Services successfully proves the debt is yours, you’ll need to make a settlement.
You can either pay the full amount of the debt, or arrange a partial payment in full satisfaction of the loan.
If you do offer to make a full payment, you should consider requesting a ”pay for delete” letter.
That’s a letter in which the collection agency promises to delete the collection account from your credit reports in exchange for full payment.
There’s no guarantee the entries will be removed since a pay-for-delete agreement is not legally binding.
CMRE Financial Services may agree to issue the letter, then fail to do so. There’s nothing illegal about that on their part, so you’ll have no legal recourse if they don’t. But it is worth requesting.
If it’s a large debt, and you don’t have the money to pay the entire amount, you’ll need to negotiate the satisfaction of the debt for less than the full amount paid.
For example, if the debt is $1,200, offer to pay $500. They may come back and insist that you pay $1,000. You can counter at $700, and they may settle for $800.
If they do, make sure they confirm your agreement in writing—that they’ll accept $800 in full satisfaction of the collection account debt of $1,200, and report the account is paid to all three credit bureaus.
Do not send any money to the agency until you receive this letter, agreeing to all details of your deal.
Collection agencies have been known to accept partial payments on a verbal agreement, and then continue to attempt to collect the full amount of the debt.
Without a letter of agreement to the partial payment, the settlement has no legal weight.
Hire a Professional
Given that numerous complaints have been filed against CMRE Financial Services with the BBB for failure to remove collection items even after documentation has been provided supporting that removal, it may be completely necessary to engage the services of a good credit repair company.
Using a credit repair service to deal with a collection agency is a way of leveling the playing field.
After all, credit repair services are well accustomed to dealing with collection agencies.
In addition, it’s almost always to your benefit to be represented by a third party in a dispute.
It shows the collection agency you’re serious about resolving the problem.
And, if you owe other collections in addition to CMRE Financial Services, you should absolutely get a credit repair service involved.
Dealing with one collection agency is a hassle; dealing with several can feel like a part-time job.
What CMRE Financial Services Can Legally Do
First, understand that most collection situations don’t end up becoming legal matters.
Collection agents are often careful not to push a legal solution because it may force you to consider filing for bankruptcy.
If you do, the collection agency will almost certainly be out of luck. They’re not considered preferred creditors and would be unlikely to collect any money in a bankruptcy proceeding.
But, that doesn’t mean CMRE Financial Services or any other collection agency absolutely won’t file a lawsuit against you.
And, if they do, there’s a high likelihood they’ll win and secure a judgment against you. That’s because they have control of the records behind the debt they’re trying to collect.
If it is, in fact, a legitimate obligation of yours, it will be difficult to fight in court.
And, that’s if you ever get to court. In many instances, the only notification of a court hearing will be a single piece of correspondence that may easily get lost in a pile of mail.
If you don’t know about the court date and you don’t show up, the collection agency will win a summary judgment against you.
With the judgment in hand, they are legally empowered to garnish your wages or even your bank account until the debt is fully paid. And, once a debt goes to judgment status, the only way to make it go away is to pay it off—in full.
If CMRE Financial Services threatens you with legal action, you may need to engage the services of a credit law firm. One of the advantages of that step is just the fact that you have legal representation means the case is highly unlikely to ever get to court.
Lexington Law is one of the top credit law firms in the country, and they can be your best friend if you’re facing legal action from a collection agency.
You may also consider hiring a credit law firm if the collection account is large, like several thousand dollars.
The likelihood of a collection agency taking legal action increases with the size of the debt.
Your Rights in Dealing with CMRE Financial Services
If you’re dealing with CMRE Financial Services or any other collection agency, it’s important to realize that you do have certain rights and protections under federal law.
Those protections are provided under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Simply reciting one or two provisions of the law to a collection agent can often diffuse an ugly situation.
You can familiarize yourself with the provisions of the FDCPA by reviewing the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It explains your rights in simple English, without a lot of confusing legalese.
Complaints Against CMRE Financial Services
There are 57 complaints filed against CMRE Financial Services through the Better Business Bureau.
Most of the complaints have been answered by CMRE Financial Services, but not resolved.
This means the issues in the original complaint remain outstanding.
The primary complaint centers on failure to remove collections from credit reports or to cease collection efforts, even after documentation is provided proving the obligation is not the consumers.
Still, other complaints focus on harassing phone calls and lack of cooperation.
Dealing with CMRE Financial Services
If you feel you have the willingness and ability to confront CMRE Financial Services directly, use the strategies recommended in this article to proceed.
But, if you don’t feel you can get the job done, sign up with a credit repair service by all means.
And, if CMRE Financial Services threatens you with legal action, it’ll be time to bring in a credit law firm to cut them off before they go any further.