First Federal Credit Control is a collection agency.
And though they indicate that they collect for multiple industries, health care seems to be their primary focus.
This is hardly a surprise, given that out-of-pocket health-care costs have increased in recent years.
This has been happening with both employer-sponsored health insurance plans and private plans.
Out-of-pocket costs, which are the consumer’s responsibility, have been rising to offset higher health insurance premiums.
Not only does it mean that the consumer is paying more for health care, but it also raises the likelihood of debt, and ultimately collections.
About First Federal Credit Control
First Federal Credit Control was launched in 1970 and is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
It is important to note that in 1997 an affiliate company, FFCC-Columbus, Inc., started in Columbus, Ohio, and uses the same name.
The two companies even share the same website, although they are separate companies.
What Debts Does First Federal Credit Control Collect?
First Federal Credit Control describes itself as “an agency for all types of businesses.”
They list healthcare, consumer and retail, business-to-business, and financial institutions among their clients.
However, their website clearly indicates a strong orientation toward health-care collections, which includes dental debts.
FFCC does indicate they accept “optimal payment plans” as an option.
This can be a major advantage when dealing with large amounts of debt, particularly medical and dental.
Even an individual with medical and/or dental insurance may find themselves with a large debt.
Especially if more than one major procedure has been done in one year or over the course of several years.
This is a common occurrence because insurance often does not cover the full cost of services provided.
First Federal Credit Control handles accounts receivable for the health-care industry, resorting to collections for unpaid debt.
It is unclear how the payment arrangements are made or how many months you’ll be given to pay the full amount of your debt.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
Is First Federal Credit Control Legit?
First Federal Credit Control is a legitimate debt collection agency with a “B” on a scale of A+ to F with the Better Business Bureau.
However, the BBB has not accredited the collection agency.
Eighty complaints have been filed against First Federal Credit Control by consumers through the BBB.
FFCC has answered each complaint, but only about 10 have been resolved in the consumer’s favor.
A scan of those complaints reveals inaccurate reporting, failure to provide accurate data validation, and failure to remove settled accounts from credit reports.
How Can a First Federal Credit Control Collection Affect Me?
Most health collection agencies are more lenient with healthcare-related debts than they can be with other types of debt.
This could be a major advantage for you.
Health-care providers maintain ongoing relationships with consumers, including those with past-due debts.
So the collection agency is more likely to be accommodating.
The health-care providers, after all, want to preserve those ongoing relationships.
That being said, don’t ignore a collection account.
Like any other unpaid debt, unpaid medical debt can end in a court judgment. And this could force you to have to pay in full.
It can even result in garnishing your wages to make it happen.
Before You Deal with First Federal Credit Control
Before getting on to the business of dealing with First Federal Credit Control, there are a few rules to keep in mind when dealing with any collection agency.
1. Don’t deal with collection agencies by phone
Agencies tend to prefer dealing with consumers over the phone. It’s an easy way for an agent to get more information out of a consumer that better connects them to a debt.
It also allows repeated contacts in a short period of time in an attempt to wear you down and coerce you into sending payment.
Collection agencies will make you aware that the call is being recorded.
This can make most consumers nervous. But it also holds the possibility the consumer will say something that will get them in deeper trouble.
For example, you may find yourself uncomfortably answering questions that may give out more information than intended.
But you do have an advantage. Under federal law, you have a right to insist that all contact with a collection agency be handled in writing rather than by phone.
In order to establish this with the agency, state it during the first contact with them. Do not be intimidated; it’s your legal right that must be respected by the agency.
2. All contact with the collection agency should be in writing
As stated previously, agencies tend to play games over the phone. And written communication gives you the upper hand by essentially canceling out phone conversations.
It’s also harder and more time consuming for agencies to mail you with demands for payment. It’s a much faster process if they bombard you with phone calls.
Written correspondence provides you with a better-behaved agent than a phone call will.
In addition, since everything will be in writing, you’ll be able to keep a track record in case there are any misunderstandings.
Give as little information as possible when writing your correspondence to the agency.
They don’t need to know any more details, since they already have information about you and the debt.
Make it known what you need from the agency, demanding as many details as possible.
Steer clear of any language or details that may come back to haunt you later on.
Make sure you send any correspondence through certified mail, return receipt requested.
That will prove you sent your letters to the agency and give you hard evidence your correspondence was received.
An advantage to written correspondence is all your information can be stored in one file that you can reference at any time.
It’s important to attach all your letters to theirs and keep everything properly dated.
That way, you can keep up with the collection process and be aware of exactly what’s going on, even on short notice.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to make it
Promising payment will not make a collection agent go away. Quite the opposite. It typically makes your situation worse.
Promising, or even implying, you’ll send a payment and then not following through can be interpreted as a breach of contract.
That’ll make it easier for the collection agency to convert your collection into a lawsuit that will likely cost even more money.
No matter how easy or convenient it may seem, never promise to send payment to a collection agency.
Only do this if you have the funds available to make the payment and you fully intend to send it.
Any other approach is likely to put you in deeper trouble.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumers with certain protections from collection agency abuses.
You can learn these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Often, just knowing your rights under federal law will force a collection agency to treat you better than they would if they believe you’re not familiar with the FDCPA.
Get Legal Help with First Federal Credit Control
The process of dealing with a collection agency may become too much to handle.
You may need to get legal help if no progress is being made.
This will be an absolute necessity if a lawsuit is brought against you by the agency.
If you need assistance, we recommend Lexington Law. They’re one of the largest and most successful credit law firms in the country.
They’ll be able to represent you and potentially have your collection account removed based on one or more violations of federal law.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with First Federal Credit Control
Now that you have an understanding of the basic rules for dealing with collection agencies, let’s tackle the subject at hand—dealing with First Federal Credit Control.
1. Demand First Federal Credit Control Provide a Debt Validation Letter
First Federal Credit Control should provide you with this letter. But as is often the case with collection agencies, you will most likely have to request it.
That should be done as soon as possible.
A debt validation letter will detail the collection account, including specifics about the debt.
The original creditor’s name should be shown, the date it went into collection, as well as additional information.
It should also confirm that you are the person responsible for the debt.
When you do receive the letter, be sure to look for any inconsistency based on what you know is actually correct.
Assuming the original creditor is a health-care provider, make sure it is someone you received services from previously.
Check if the amount owed and the date provided match any other payments that may have already been made.
Collections often occur from misapplied payments, which can be corrected if proper evidence is shown.
If that’s necessary, you can typically have the account closed just by sending written confirmation that the original debt was paid.
Mistaken identity may play a role as well. Ensure all the information shown in the debt validation letter clearly connects you as the person who owes the debt to the agency.
If it’s someone with a similar name, you can usually have this resolved. You’ll need to provide evidence that refutes one or more parts of the information in the debt validation letter identifying you as the primary debtor.
2. Request a Goodwill Deletion
This is a recommended strategy if you’ve already paid the debt or plan to pay in full.
The main purpose is to have the collection account removed from your credit reports.
Request deletion of the account from First Federal Credit Control on your credit report with a goodwill letter.
In the letter, you should remind the company that the debt has been paid, or inform them you will pay it soon.
Most important, you’ll need to provide an explanation that the collection is clearly the result of a circumstance beyond your control.
Being persuasive comes in handy here. Explain to First Federal Credit Control that a major life event caused the debt to happen.
That could be the death of a loved one, a major medical emergency, a divorce, an extended time of unemployment, or even a natural disaster.
Include it with your letter if you have any proof or documentation supporting your claim.
This is not guaranteed to work. But it’s worth trying if you really do have an extenuating circumstance that caused the debt to go into collection.
3. Offer a Pay-for-Delete Agreement
This strategy could go either way. It may be something the agency will agree to as a way to get a full payment quickly. However, it could also backfire.
In doing this, you’ll send First Federal Credit Control a pay-for-delete letter, in which you’ll propose to make full payment of the collection in exchange for the removal of the collection account from your credit report.
If they do agree, be sure to get it in writing just to be safe.
However, these agreements cannot legally be enforced. Even if the agency agrees in writing, they may still fail to remove the collection from your credit reports—even after you’ve made payment.
Unfortunately, collection agencies are not required to remove accounts from your credit report, even if payment is received.
Reporting the account as paid is the most they’re legally required to do.
4. Demand Deletion if First Federal Credit Control Can’t Validate the Debt
In most cases, the agencies do not ever provide the debt validation letters or they come back missing important information.
If that’s the case, the agency must drop the collection, since a missing or incomplete debt validation letter is a violation of federal law.
If the account is not validated by FFCC, you may dispute it with the credit bureaus.
The bureaus are required to investigate your dispute within 30 days.
They will remove the account from your report if the collection agency similarly fails to provide complete validation of your debt.
Even with a missing or incomplete debt validation letter, the agency may still continue to try to collect from you.
If that happens, you will need to take legal actions based on violations of federal law.
5. Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
You’ll be seeking a compromise with this strategy.
A debt settlement will not remove the collection account from your credit reports. But it will enable you to pay the account for less than the full amount owed.
Send a letter to First Federal Credit Control offering to pay no more than half the full amount—or even less—to settle the debt.
At that point, you’ll have opened the door for negotiation with the agency. If they’re willing to negotiate, they’ll come back with a counteroffer.
You continue to negotiate back and forth until you and the agency agree on a satisfactory payment amount.
Getting the agreement in writing is your next step.
Demand First Federal Credit Control provide you with written confirmation that they will accept the reduced payment in full satisfaction of the debt.
They must also agree to end collection efforts against you and report the account as paid with each of the three major credit bureaus.
You must not send payment until FFCC has provided the letter agreeing to all requirements.
If you pay before the letter arrives, the agency may accept your payment as a partial settlement, then continue to pursue you for the rest of the debt.
It is important to realize that an agreement is not legally enforceable unless it is in writing.