Is there a collection account from DirecTV Collections on your credit report, or are you being contacted by the organization to pay a past-due debt?
If so, it may be a relief to learn that this type of collection is on the lower end of the collection spectrum.
That is, it’s not nearly as bad as a collection from a previous landlord, a student loan debt, or a government agency.
That doesn’t mean it’s harmless, but rather that it’s more annoying than anything else.
Typically, collections from a TV provider are on the smaller side, no more than $200 or $300.
But that doesn’t minimize the damage to your credit score, nor does it mean you can ignore the collection itself.
About DirecTV Collections
DirecTV Collections may cause a bit of a problem for you, since now it is a part of AT&T. Though they do have a dedicated webpage specifically to deal with a DirecTV account.
On that page, you’ll be given the option to pay or dispute your DirecTV bill. However, since DirecTV no longer exists, it’s charitable to refer to it as a “bill.”
That being the case, any amounts claimed as an obligation to DirecTV are essentially collections.
We need to be clear on one point; DirecTV Collections refers to the process of collections resulting from DirecTV service.
There is no organization specifically referred to as “DirecTV Collections.”
You’ll either dispute or pay the bill through AT&T, or you’ll deal with a collection agency that’s been hired by DirecTV (or even AT&T) to collect on a previous account.
However, throughout this article, we will refer to all collection efforts related to DirecTV as “DirecTV Collections.”
In most of our articles dealing with collection agencies, we provide information on the original creditor or collection agency from third-party sources like the Better Business Bureau.
But given that there is no company known as DirecTV Collections, and that DirecTV itself is no longer in existence, no such information is available.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
Before You Deal with DirecTV Collections
Before we dive into specific strategies for dealing with DirecTV Collections, let’s first review some basic rules for dealing with any collection agency.
1. Don’t deal with collection agencies by phone
If you’re getting phone calls regarding a previous DirecTV account, they’re probably not coming from AT&T itself. More likely, they’re from collection agencies representing AT&T.
Whatever the source of the calls, telephone contact with any collection agency is best avoided. The process is tailor-made to work in the collection agency’s favor.
For example, collection agents are trained and experienced with intimidation tactics designed to either squeeze additional information out of consumers or convince them to send payment on the debt they may not even owe.
Meanwhile, collection agencies routinely record phone calls. That has obvious legal implications, since any statements or representations made in a recorded call will have the same weight as written documents.
Collection agencies will let you know up front that the call is being recorded. That in itself is a major intimidation tactic!
Knowing that your comments are being recorded immediately puts you on the defensive. And that’s no position to negotiate anything, let alone a collection account.
But not to worry, there is an out.
2. All contact with a collection agency should be in writing
Under federal law (see #4 below), you have a right to demand all contact with a collection agency be handled in writing. Collection agencies are aware of this law, but they’re hoping you aren’t.
No matter, it is your right, and you need to assert it as early in the collection process as possible.
That will put an end to annoying, repetitive phone calls, being recorded, and the verbal intimidation tactics collection agents are famous for.
But it also gives you greater control over the negotiation process. First, written correspondence forces collection agencies to behave according to the letter of the law.
Second, it keeps conversations limited to very specific topics. That eliminates the possibility of the collection agency extracting additional information from you that will be used to further connect you to the debt.
And third, you’ll be able to respond to each letter from the collection agency in a calm, controlled manner.
When the collection agency proposes a “solution,” you’ll have time to think about whether it’s the right course for you, or if you want to make a counter proposal.
Finally, you will have a written track record of all exchanges with the collection agency.
That will make it easier for you to reference previous exchanges, and to decide exactly how you want to approach a proposal or demand.
Bonus: If a collection agency brings a lawsuit against you for the account, a file folder of all correspondence with the company may be your best defense in court.
But be sure all correspondence from you is sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to make it
Consumers being approached by collection agencies sometimes make promises to send payment with the hope of making the agency go away.
But when the payment is not received by the agency, they’ll be back, and probably more aggressive than before.
It’s critical to understand that making a promise to send payment, then reneging on it, can be considered grounds for breach of contract.
The promise to send payment, whether in writing or in a recorded phone call, can be interpreted as an admission of financial responsibility. That by itself can be the basis of a lawsuit.
No matter how convenient it may seem, never promise to send payment unless you fully intend to do it.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
When we refer to federal law in this article, we mean the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
It provides consumers with certain protections from collection agency abuses.
You can familiarize yourself with these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
When dealing with collection agencies, just asserting your rights under the FDCPA will often get them to treat you better.
Get Legal Help in Dealing with DirecTV Collections
If you don’t feel you’re up to the challenge, or if the collection agency is playing hardball, you may need to get legal representation.
That will be an absolute necessity if you’re threatened with a lawsuit.
If you need legal representation, we recommend Lexington Law.
They specialize in credit law and are one of the most well-recognized firms in the country.
If you’re running into resistance, this may be the law firm that can clear up the entire situation.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with DirecTV Collections
With a general understanding of the basic rules for dealing with collection agencies, let’s look at specific strategies for dealing with DirecTV Collections.
1. Demand DirecTV Collections Provide a Debt Validation Letter
Collection agencies are legally required to provide you with a fully completed debt validation letter.
The purpose of the letter is to provide specific details showing the debt is legitimate, and that you are, in fact, the person obligated to pay it.
When the letter comes back from the collection agency, carefully examine all the details, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the original creditor a provider you’ve done business with in the past?
- Does the amount of the original obligation match your records?
- Do you recall the account ever going into collection?
- Are you the person described in the letter?
- Does all the identifying information match your profile, including the address and any identifying account numbers?
If the information contained in the debt verification letter conflicts with your own records, you may be able to open a dispute with the collection agency.
For example, cases of mistaken identity are common with collection accounts. It’s possible the person listed in the letter has a similar name but isn’t you.
You should be able to provide documentation supporting this.
An even more common possibility is that the collection agency is attempting to collect a debt that you’ve already paid.
If you have evidence of the previous payment, you should be able to get the account dropped by supplying a copy of that document.
2. Request a Goodwill Deletion
If you have a collection account with DirecTV Collections that’s already been paid, and you simply want to have the account deleted from your credit report, you may be able to request a goodwill deletion.
You can do this by sending the collection agency a goodwill letter. Your letter should reiterate the fact that the debt has already been paid.
It should also provide a credible explanation that the account went into collection due to circumstances beyond your control.
Your explanation will need to be entirely credible and even backed by any available documentation supporting your claim.
The collection agency may remove the collection account from your credit report as an act of goodwill if your letter convinces them that extenuating circumstances caused the problem.
This will mean a major life event, like a divorce, a business failure, or a major health problem.
There’s no guarantee the collection agency will respond positively, but it’s worth trying if the debt has been paid, and there is a reasonable explanation for why it went into collection.
3. Offer a Pay-for-Delete Agreement
This strategy is commonly recommended for dealing with collection agencies, but its success is a mixed bag at best.
It’s something of a reverse version of a goodwill deletion request. Where a goodwill deletion request can be used on a debt that has already paid, this one can only be used on a debt that’s still outstanding.
You’ll send the collection agency a pay-for-delete letter, proposing to send full payment of the debt in exchange for the removal of the collection account from your credit reports.
It’s a bold request, but it has been known to work. But it will only work if you are fully prepared to send full payment of the obligation.
(You should not combine this strategy with a request for an installment payment plan or attempt to negotiate a lower settlement amount.)
The collection agency may agree in an effort to collect the full balance due immediately.
And if they do, tell them you will send payment upon receipt of a written agreement confirming their acceptance of the arrangement.
However, you should know that even if they send a letter of agreement, they may not remove the collection account even after receiving payment.
You see, pay-for-delete arrangements are not legally enforceable. In fact, collection agencies are only required to report that an account has been paid.
They are not supposed to delete an account from your credit report because it’s been paid. And if they don’t, you won’t have any recourse against them.
4. Demand Deletion if DirecTV Collections Can’t Fully Validate the Debt
There’s another aspect of the debt validation letter that can work in your favor.
Collection agencies commonly provide incomplete debt validation letters or fail to provide them at all. Either will provide you with a valid basis for disputing the legitimacy of the debt.
You can use the incomplete or missing debt validation letter to dispute the debt directly with the collection agency.
A missing letter or incomplete information may indicate the collection agency’s records are inadequate. If so, they’re legally required to remove the account from your credit reports and terminate all further action against you.
Even if they don’t (and they probably won’t), you can take your dispute directly to the credit bureaus. They are required to open an investigation within 30 days.
If the collection agency either fails to provide the debt validation letter or it comes back incomplete, the credit bureaus will remove the account from your credit reports.
But be warned that the collection agency may continue collection efforts against you, even if the debt is removed from your credit reports.
5. Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
This strategy won’t remove the collection account from your credit reports, but it will enable you to eliminate the debt for less than the original amount claimed.
You’ll need to send the collection agency a letter proposing to pay a reduced amount. We recommend an initial offer of 50% or less of the balance claimed by the collection agency.
If they are willing, they will counteroffer with a higher figure.
You’ll then negotiate until you reach a number both sides agreed to.
When that happens, demand the collection agency send you a written acknowledgment of your agreement before sending payment.
If you send the payment before the letter arrives, the company may accept it as a partial payment and continue collection efforts for the balance.