Have you recently received a letter or phone call from AFNI Inc collections?
Perhaps they were demanding payment of an old or non-existent debt even threatening legal actions. Don’t know what to do or where to start?
Don’t be fooled by the scare tactics collection agencies employ. You have rights.
In fact, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) upheld by the FTC guarantees them.
Collection companies sometimes prey on uneducated consumers. They may bully them into paying debt that may not even be theirs. It may be past the statute of limitations.
Nonetheless, once a collections account is opened on your credit report as reported by the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, the damage to your credit score can be devastating.
Some debt collection agencies try to collect on debt that doesn’t even exist.
Who is ANFI Collections?
AFNI began as a collections agency in Bloomington, Illinois in 1936. At that time it was under the name H.A. Slaven’s Collection Bureau.
Earl Anderson purchased it in 1976. Then they changed the name to Anderson Financial Network Inc. Hence, the acronym AFNI.
In 1985, Bruce Griffin joined AFNI as a general manager. Together with Earl Anderson, they began opening satellite offices around the entire country. Each satellite office reports to the central office in Bloomington.
They typically collect for telecommunications and cable TV companies. According to their own website, AFNI is a customer lifecycle solutions company. They state that they specialize in customer growth, consumer collections, and insurance subrogation.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) there are over 473 complaints with the BBB and nearly 2,800 with the CFPB, citing violations of the FDCPA.
What To 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. That means they cannot legally collect the debt.
The very first thing to do is make them prove the debt or negative item on your credit report is yours. You can do this by sending them a debt validation letter.
Collection agencies may try and collect invalid debts that do not actually belong to the consumer. If they think you are willing to pay they will pursue you.
If they prove the debt whether a credit card bill or overdue medical bill to be valid, then the collection agency must then prove the original creditor authorized them to collect the debt.
Send them an initial debt dispute letter if the debt is not yours or they cannot prove that it is. 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.
As always, be careful about providing personal information like your social security number or date of birth.
How To Deal With ANFI Collections
You should aim to avoid talking with a collector on the phone. Do all communications 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 mail fraud. They would rather you not pay them than be in trouble for 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.
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 you can file a lawsuit.
The FDCPA regulates all collection agencies. 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 your banking account number.
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 (Cavalry Portfolio Services, for example) 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 a wage garnishment.
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. This time differs from state to state but is typically between 3 and 7 years, and federal law closes any loopholes by setting a 7-year limit.
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 To Remove AFNI Collections From Your Credit Report
One way to go about removing an AFNI collections account from your credit report as reported by the three credit bureaus, 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. We cannot stress enough to get the agreement in writing.
Some collectors use 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 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.
AFNI Collections Contact Information
Here’s some more contact information on this company:
- Headquarters Address: 1310 Martin Luther King Dr, Bloomington, IL 61701-1465
- Mailing Address: PO Box 3097, Bloomington, IL 61702
- Phone Number: (800) 767-2364
- Website: afnicollections.com
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 someone has authorized them to collect on the debt. According to federal law, they must provide you with this information.
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. If you still need help, seek out a credit repair company to help take up the lion’s share of the work to clear your credit report.
Do you have any tips on dealing with collections agencies like AFNI? Please share them in the comments.