Have you spotted a strange entry on your credit report from an organization called MRS Associates?
If you have, it’s almost certainly a collection account. And since they’re so heavily involved in collections on auto loans, there’s a good chance you have an unsettled car debt in your past. If you do, you need to get it settled or even removed from your credit report.
Collection accounts, both large and small, can have a negative impact on your credit score. And since they can hang around for several years, you’ll want to do what is necessary to get them removed as soon as possible.
If you haven’t figured out how to remove MRS Associates from your credit report, we’re here to help.
What is MRS Associates?
MRS Associates is based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and has been operating since 1991. It’s a debt collection agency, and it even has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau, the highest rating they issue.
The company provides debt service collections across the country for many major industries. For example, they serve as a collection agent for companies like financial services, fintech/marketplace lending, auto loans, student loans, cable, telecommunications services, utilities, municipalities and tolling authorities, medical practices, and customer service providers.
In fact, the company claims it’s the premier automotive collection agency in the United States, servicing over $2 billion in annual loan deficiency placements and end-of-term balances.
Not all the debts handled by MRS Associates have reached the collection stage yet. If you receive a phone call or correspondence from the company, they may be involved in a pre-collection debt situation.
If that’s the case, you may be past due on a debt, but it’s not yet showing up on your credit report as a collection. If so, it is important to work with MRS Associates early in the process. Any effort you can make to prevent a past-due balance from becoming a collection account will be an opportunity to avoid further damage to your credit score.
Should I Pay MRS Associates?
The answer to this question is a certified maybe. You’ll need to do some investigating first, to see if you legitimately owe the debt. If you do, you’ll need to settle the account, though not necessarily for the full amount.
But if you don’t actually owe the debt — and that does happen more than occasionally — there are steps you can take to have the obligation removed from your name and from your credit report.
We’re going to go into strategies to help you in either direction. But we recommend that you do not ignore a credit report entry, phone call, or correspondence from MRS Associates.
When it comes to debt collectors, doing nothing is almost always the worst possible outcome. Consumers are often tempted to do exactly that in the hope that the collectors will just kind-of go away.
They never do.
And if it’s a large debt — especially one that’s recent — they may take legal action. That can extend to getting a court judgment against you, one you may not even be aware of. If it happens, the collection agency will be legally entitled to garnish your wages or your bank accounts.
That’s the exact situation we want to help you avoid.
How to Remove MRS Associates from a Credit Report
There’s no single way to deal with a collection account. It’s a multi-step process, starting with information gathering. From there, you can assess whether to pursue having the debt removed from your name and your credit report, or working out some type of settlement.
Here are the strategies we recommend to remove MRS Associates from your credit report, or at least to minimize the damage being done by the collection entry.
1. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report from All Three Credit Bureaus
If your first contact with MRS Associates is through a phone call or letter, you need to assess how far the action has gone. That will start by getting a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
The reason for getting a copy from each of the bureaus is that a negative entry can appear on one or two credit reports, but not on all three. That happens because not all creditors report to all three credit bureaus. A collection account may not show up on your Experian credit report, but still appear on your reports with Equifax and TransUnion. If you only order a report from Experian, you may wrongly assume the collection has not hit your credit report.
You can order your reports from all three bureaus — free of charge — through an online service provider known as AnnualCreditReport.com. They’re the only source officially authorized to provide you with a copy of your credit report from all three bureaus.
Armed with your credit reports, examine them carefully to see if there is an entry from MRS Associates. You should also look for any other creditors on your reports that may be showing a past due balance. If the information on a balance is similar to what MRS Associates claims you owe them, the two obligations may be the same.
2. Learn Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
This is the federal law that protects consumers from certain practices used by collection agencies. Anytime you’re contacted by a collection agency, or see their entry on your credit report, you need to familiarize yourself with your rights under this law. You can learn all about the basic provisions of the law by familiarizing yourself with the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
This is an important early step, and one you can’t afford to miss. Collection agencies are professional debt collection organizations, and they’re well versed in federal debt collection laws. You need to be as well, to take this advantage away from them.
You’ll also need to know your rights so you can protect yourself if a collection agent gets overly aggressive. Often, just citing the law to the agents will be enough to make them more agreeable.
3. Demand MRS Associates Provide a Debt Verification Letter
When dealing with MRS Associates, or any other collection agency, your initial exchanges need to be brief and to the point. Your job in the early going will be to get as much information as possible, while providing as little as possible yourself.
Collection agencies routinely record phone conversations with debtors. If you make any promises in a phone conversation, then fail to follow through, the agency may present it as evidence against you in court. Don’t volunteer any information, answer any questions, or make any promises!
Your first direct contact should be a request for a debt verification letter. A creditor or collection agency must be able to verify a debt is yours. If they can’t, they need to drop their case and remove any negative information from your credit report.
That’s the purpose of the debt verification letter. It must provide the name of the original creditor, the amount owed, relevant dates, and any other important information. If the agency is unable to provide full or even complete information, you may be able to state the debt isn’t yours.
Once you receive the debt verification letter, you’ll have a better idea of which way to go with your response to MRS Associates.
4. What to do if the Debt Verification Letter Fails to Prove You Owe the Debt
From this point forward, all communication with MRS Associates needs to be in writing. That’s because you will now be entering the negotiation and agreement phase, and you’ll need a paper trail as evidence of any findings or agreements.
If the debt verification letter fails to prove the collection account is yours, write the company and stress the point. You can do this even if the account is a case of mistaken identity, such as when someone with a similar name is the actual debtor.
If MRS Associates agrees that the debt isn’t yours, make sure they confirm that to you in writing, with an acknowledgment that any negative information will be removed from your credit report.
If MRS Associates doesn’t cooperate with you, and the debt verification letter makes it clear the obligation isn’t yours, you can take your case to the three credit bureaus.
You’ll do this by opening a dispute with each of the bureaus. They’re required by law to investigate your claim within 30 days. They’ll ask for the same information from MRS Associates, and if the information is either missing or incomplete, they’ll delete the negative entries from your credit reports.
5. What to do if MRS Associates Proves the Debt is Yours
If the debt is, in fact, yours, you’ll need to settle the account. But that doesn’t necessarily mean paying the balance in full. If it’s a small amount, like less than $100, it may be best to simply pay the full amount and get them out of your life. But if it’s several hundred dollars, or several thousand, you should negotiate for a reduced settlement.
Once again, this must be done in writing. If it’s done by phone, you absolutely must get written confirmation of your agreement from MRS Associates before you send them any money. If you don’t get the terms of your reduced settlement agreed to in writing, the agency can accept your reduced payment, then continue to pursue you for the full balance.
You should start by offering considerably less than the full amount of the debt owed. If it’s $1,000, offer them $500 or less. (The older the debt, the lower the initial offer can be.)
MRS Associates probably won’t accept your initial settlement offer. More likely, they’ll counter with a higher amount, like $800. You’ll then come back with, say, $600. The final settlement then might be $700.
If that’s agreed to, have them confirm that receipt of payment for $700 will be accepted as full payment of the debt in question. Their letter should also confirm they will report the updated information to all three credit bureaus.
Only when you receive that letter from MRS Associates should you send payment.
Once payment has been sent, wait 30 days, then check your credit reports. If the updated information doesn’t appear, contact MRS and remind them of your agreement. If they still don’t follow through, you can contact the credit bureaus directly, furnishing them a copy of the agreement letter from MRS as evidence of the updated status of the account. The credit bureaus will correct the information, even if they don’t hear from the agency.
6. Get Legal Help if MRS Associates Gets Out of Hand
If MRS Associates becomes uncooperative, or if they threaten you with legal action, you may need to hire a credit attorney. In most cases, collection agencies won’t go the legal route for a small debt. But if you owe several thousand dollars, the likelihood is much greater.
If that happens, we recommend Lexington Law. They’re one of the best-known credit law firms in the country. Often, just having a collection agency contacted by a credit law firm will be enough to get them to be more willing to negotiate.
If you’re contacted by MRS Associates, or if a collection account from them shows up on your credit report, try not to take it personally. It could be a case of mistaken identity. But even if it isn’t, they’re just doing the job they were hired to do — to collect a past-due obligation.
Order a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus, and familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law. Next, make MRS Associates verify that the debt is legitimately yours. If they can’t, demand they remove it from your credit report and stop pursuing you for payment.
If it is your debt, work to settle the account for a lesser amount. Be sure to get all agreements in writing before sending any payments, and require that the corrected information be reported to all three credit bureaus upon settlement.
And if the situation starts to get out of control, don’t hesitate to hire an attorney to protect your rights.
If you want to learn more strategies for dealing with collection agencies, or if you have multiple collection accounts to deal with, check out our article, How to Remove Collections From Your Credit Report, for a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with collection accounts.