Have you recently received a letter or call from AFNI collections demanding payment of an old or non-existent debt, but don’t know what to do or where to start?
Don’t be fooled by the scare tactics employed by collection agencies. You have rights and they are guaranteed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Collections agencies sometimes prey on uneducated consumers, and bully them into paying debt that may not even be theirs, or is past the statute of limitations.
Some agencies have even been known to try and collect on debt that doesn’t even exist.
This article will discuss who ANFI is, what they can legally do, what your rights are, ways to deal with the collections agency, and how to remove an ANFI collections account from your credit report.
Who is ANFI Collections?
AFNI was originally founded as a collections agency in Bloomington, Illinois in 1936 under the name H.A. Slaven’s Collection Bureau.
It was purchased by Earl Anderson in 1976, at which time the name was changed to Anderson Financial Network Inc. Hence, the acronym AFNI.
In 1985, Bruce Griffin joined AFNI as a general manager, and together with Earl Anderson, they began opening satellite offices around the entire country. Each satellite office reports to the central office in Bloomington.
According to their own website, AFNI is a customer lifecycle solutions company, specializing in customer growth, consumer collections, and insurance subrogation.
What Should You Do After ANFI Collections Contacts You?
If AFNI has contacted you about a charge off (or otherwise), do not talk to them on the phone. Do all communications through certified mail.
Even if the debt is yours, the statute of limitations may have expired, meaning they cannot legally collect the debt. The very first thing to do is make them prove the debt is yours by sending them a debt validation letter.
Collection agencies have been known to try and collect invalid debts that do not actually belong to the consumer, and if they think you are willing to pay they will pursue you.
If the debt is proved valid, then the collection agency must then prove they are authorized by the original creditor to be collecting the debt.
If the debt is not yours or they cannot prove that it is, then send them an initial debt dispute letter. Federal law prohibits the collection agency from contacting you until they can verify that the debt is valid after they receive the initial dispute letter.
How Do You Deal With ANFI Collections?
You should aim to avoid talking with a collector on the phone. Instead all communications should be done through certified mail at the post office. AFNI will more than likely back off, at least until they can prove that the debt is yours.
The act of sending mail claiming that you owe a debt that is not yours and demanding payment is considered mail fraud. They would rather not get paid then get caught committing mail fraud, which is a federal offense.
By sending all communications through certified mail, you will have records of what you sent, and that they received it. This is to your advantage because if they continue contacting you after receiving your initial dispute letter, and you have proof that they received it, then they are harassing you and violating the FDCPA, and a lawsuit can be filed.
All collections agencies are regulated by the FDCPA, but unfortunately many collection agencies ignore the statutes outlined by federal law.
It may be in your best interests, depending on the actions of the collections agency to hire a lawyer. The collections agency will no longer be able to contact you, and will have to do all communications through your lawyer.
If your debt is legitimate and you are willing to pay it, tell them that you will pay it in full if they remove the account from your credit report.
Do not give them a single cent until you get this agreement in writing, otherwise they will not remove it even if you had a verbal agreement.
What Can ANFI Collections Legally Do?
AFNI, like any other debt collector can contact you by phone, email, text, or letter. They may not, however, call you at inconvenient times such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you do not pay a legitimate debt, AFNI can sue you in court. If they win they will enter a judgment against you, which will state the amount you owe, and allow them to garnish your wages for it.
They can only garnish your wages after getting a judgment in court.
Always respond to a lawsuit, either yourself or through a lawyer, otherwise you will lose the opportunity to fight wage garnishment.
What Are Your Rights When Dealing With ANFI Collections?
The FDCPA guarantees the rights of consumers and limits the acts of collection agencies.
You have the right to be informed, and the collection agency must prove the debt is yours, that it hasn’t reached the statute of limitations, and that they are authorized to be collecting on the debt before you pay a single cent.
No matter what, AFNI and all other collections agencies are prohibited by federal law from pretending they are someone else like a government agency or attorney, and from harassing, threatening, or deceiving you in any way.
No collections agency may contact you at work if you explicitly tell them not to, either verbally or in writing.
Any harassing, threatening, or deceiving acts violate the FDCPA, and a lawsuit may be filed against the company.
The statute of limitations limits the amount of time a debt can be collected on. This time differs from state to state but is typically between 3 and 7 years, and federal law closes any loop holes by setting a 7 year limit.
What Are Some Complaints Against ANFI Collections?
AFNI has been accused by consumer reviews of using unfair, abusive, and deceptive tactics to get money from people, even if they don’t owe it.
The biggest and perhaps most fraudulent acts ANFI has been accused of include trying to collect on fake debts. There are hundreds of reports of people being harassed about a debt with a phone company that they never even had an account with.
The second biggest complaint against AFNI involves the agency potentially changing the dates on debt accounts to try and get around the statute of limitations. It is important to know the real date of your debt by getting a copy of the original bill and contacting the creditor directly.
If you make even a partial payment the statute of limitations will start over.
Most of the complaints about fake debts and debts past the statute of limitations are related to Verizon, AT&T, and Direct TV. All these companies use AFNI as a debt collector, but this does not make a debt notice by AFNI legitimate.
This is why it is important to make them prove that the debt is yours.
How do you remove an AFNI Collections account from your credit report?
One way to go about removing an AFNI collections account from your credit report, if the debt is legitimately yours, is to agree to pay the amount in full only if they remove the account from the credit report. But do not pay them a cent until you have the agreement in writing.
It cannot be stressed enough to get the agreement in writing. Some collectors have been known for their crooked tactics and will agree to something, but if it’s not in writing they will back out.
If you have an agreement in writing and they don’t follow through, then legal action can be taken and you can file a lawsuit against them.
If the debt is not yours or the statute of limitations has passed, and they refuse to remove the account from your credit report, then your best option is to hire a lawyer. There are many law firms that specialize in credit disputes.
The Bottom Line
When dealing with AFNI or any other collections agency, it is important to be an informed consumer and practice your rights.
Always make them prove the debt is yours, and that they are authorized to collect on the debt. They are required by federal law to provide you with this information, why not make them.
Do not communicate over the phone and instead do all communications through certified mail, keeping mailing receipts and records of all communications.
Don’t let the tactics of collections agencies get to you. It is their way of scaring you into giving them money.
Do you have any tips on dealing with collections agencies like AFNI? Please share them in the comments.