If you are contacted by a company called National Credit Services, or if a collection account shows up on your credit report under that name, you’ll need to deal with the situation head-on.
(But be aware that the account may show up under “NCS”, which is simply an abbreviation for the company’s name.)
National Credit Services is a collection agency, and they’re contacting you about a debt, or reporting it on your credit report.
You’ll need to deal with the company to get the situation settled, and there are various ways to make that happen.
We’re going to provide you with the strategies that will either enable you to pay off the debt, have it removed from your credit report, or both.
But we have to warn that this is not an easy process. By their very nature, collection agencies are not highly cooperative.
You’ll need to know how to deal with them, and what specific steps you’ll need to take.
But if you don’t feel you’ll be able to take them on directly, we’ll also recommend professional services that can deal with them for you.
About National Credit Services
National Credit Services is based in Bothell, Washington, and goes by the name “NCS”. The company was founded in 1975 and is a nationally licensed collection agency.
The company maintains separate collection divisions to serve specific industries.
Those include higher education, healthcare, financial institutions (including credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and other loan types), retail, commercial, and government agencies.
However, their specialization seems to be education-related loans.
In that regard, they serve as a collection agency for everything from private K – 12 schools, up to federal student loans.
Is National Credit Services Legit?
National Credit Services has a Better Business Bureau rating of “B-”, on a scale running from A+ to F.
The company is not BBB accredited and has had just 66 complaints filed against it through the agency in the past three years.
But at least based on the information available through the BBB, National Credit Services is a legitimate collection agency.
How to Deal with National Credit Services
National Credit Services is another collection agency that uses encouraging language to describe the services they provide.
How much of that is how they legitimately conduct business with debtors, and how much is designed primarily for public consumption is always an open question with collection agencies.
When all is said and done, the job of a collection agency is to collect outstanding debts, which is adversarial by its very nature.
As well, many collection agencies start out using a soft touch, in the hope of getting you to willingly cooperate.
But if you don’t provide that cooperation or you fail to respond to their efforts to contact you, they can turn up the heat quickly.
Always remembering that National Credit Services is first and foremost a collection agency, we recommend the following strategies to deal with them.
Before you begin the business of dealing with National Credit Services directly, you’ll first need to know some basic ground rules for dealing with all collection agencies.
Keep these rules in mind throughout the process.
1. Avoid telephone contact
Most collection agencies want nothing more than to restrict exchanges with you to phone calls.
That’s where they have the biggest advantage.
They have skilled representatives who are trained in the art of intimidation, and getting consumers to send money – or at least promise to.
But what you need to be aware of when it comes to phone calls is that collection agencies commonly record them.
Though they may say the recordings are done for training purposes, the reality is they’re done for legal reasons.
A recorded phone conversation can be used as evidence in a lawsuit, as long as the collection agency has informed you up front that the call is being recorded.
No matter how convenient phone conversations may seem, you need to avoid them at all costs.
Even though your first contact with the company may be by phone, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
And when you do speak with someone by phone, be sure to write down all relevant information, including the time of the call, who you spoke with, their contact information, and the general content of the conversation.
You may need to refer to this information in the future.
2. All contact should be in writing
The better way to deal with collection agencies is in writing, and you have a legal right as a consumer to demand all contact be handled through traditional mail.
That will not only prevent the abuses and excesses that phone conversations invite, but will also provide you with a track record of all conversations.
In limiting your communications to writing, there are two rules to keep in mind:
- Written correspondence from you should always be an attempt to get information from National Credit Services, not to provide it, and
- you should make it a point to send all correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested. That will give you evidence that you did in fact send specific correspondence when you said you sent it.
Written correspondence – backed by certified mail – will be one of your best protections if National Credit Services chooses to pursue the debt through the courts.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to do it
Probably the single biggest reason phone conversations with collection agencies are to be avoided is to prevent you from making promises you may not keep.
For example, if you promise to pay off the debt completely by the 15th of the month – mainly as a stalling technique – and fail to follow through, National Credit Services can consider that an act of bad faith and even a deception.
That would represent a powerful weapon for them in a legal action.
For that reason, you should never make an offer to make any payments that you aren’t both willing and able to make.
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).
Just knowing your rights under federal law may give you the upper hand when a collection agency starts getting ugly.
If all of this seems like too much for you to handle on your own,
we recommend you seek professional help in your credit repair journey.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with National Credit Services
Demand a Debt Validation Letter
All collection agencies, including National Credit Services, are required to verify any debt they claim you owe.
This is done through what is known as a debt validation letter.
The letter is the collection agency’s written validation of the debt, and if they can’t provide it – or, if the information is incomplete – you can challenge the legitimacy of their claim.
The letter must provide complete information on the debt, including the name of the original creditor, the date the account went into collection, the amount of the debt, and information that clearly connects you to the obligation.
You have a right to this information because it will give you an opportunity to determine if you legitimately owe the debt.
For example, collection agencies often attempt to collect on debts that were already paid, or pursue you in a case of mistaken identity.
The debt verification letter will give you an opportunity to dispute either situation.
Request a Goodwill Deletion
This is the simplest way to remove a collection account from your credit report, but success is generally hit or miss.
As the name implies, goodwill deletion is an attempt to get a collection agency to delete the collection from your credit report as a nice gesture.
Does it work in real-world collection situations? Sometimes. And for that reason, it may be worth trying.
You’ll send National Credit Services a goodwill letter in which you’ll make a request for the company to delete the collection information from your credit reports in exchange for payment.
For a goodwill deletion request to work, the debt must be paid, preferably paid in full.
The purpose behind the request isn’t to eliminate the debt, but rather to have a collection account removed from your credit report.
That can’t happen if you still owe the company money.
Obviously, you only want to try a goodwill deletion if you agree that you owe the debt National Credit Services claims you do.
In addition, the letter will need to include an explanation that the debt occurred due to circumstances that were beyond your control.
That can include an extended period of unemployment, a divorce, a death in the family, or a serious illness.
Essentially, you’ll be asking National Credit Services to remove a collection account that occurred for reasons beyond your control and has already been paid in full.
A collection agency does not need to agree to a goodwill deletion, but it’s worth asking for under the right circumstances.
Offer a “Pay-for-Delete” Agreement
This is a strategy that’s commonly advocated for credit repair, but it’s hardly guaranteed to work.
You’ll send what’s known as a pay-for-delete letter to National Credit Services, asking if they will delete the collection account from your credit reports in exchange for full payment of the debt.
National Credit Services may agree to the arrangement, but they’re not legally required to do so even if they accept the terms in writing.
In fact, creditors and collection agencies are typically prohibited from deleting negative information from your credit report for any reason other than proof that it’s not legitimately yours.
That means it’s entirely possible the collection agency will accept your payment, then fail to remove the collections from your credit reports.
You’ll have no legal recourse if that happens.
Demand Deletion of the Account if National Credit Services Can’t Verify the Debt
If National Credit Services provides an incomplete debt verification letter, or if they provide none at all, that could be a fortunate situation for you.
Their inability to validate the debt means they’ll be required to remove it from the credit reports and stop pursuing you for payment.
Now that’s what they’re supposed to do, but it isn’t what always happens.
They may ignore your dispute and continue both reporting it to the credit bureaus and pursuing collection against you.
However, if they’re unable to fully verify the debt as yours, you can then open up a dispute with the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Each will have 30 days to investigate your dispute, and if National Credit Services similarly fails to provide complete information about the debt, they can delete the information directly.
However, even then National Credit Services may not stop pursuing you for the debt.
That’s a big part of what makes dealing with any collection agency so difficult.
Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
This is a very common method of settling collection accounts, though it won’t necessarily improve your credit report or credit score.
However, it will give you an opportunity to settle a collection for less – sometimes a lot less – than the original balance.
Collection agencies will often agree to settle for less in exchange for immediate payment.
Debt settlement, however, is a negotiation process you’ll need to be prepared for. You’ll start by making a lowball offer, like $400 to settle a $1,000 debt.
The collection agency will counter with a higher amount, and you’ll ultimately settle somewhere in the middle. It may be a way to settle a $1,000 collection for just $600 or $700.
But be aware that you’ll need to make that payment upfront and immediately. It’s unlikely a debt settlement will be accepted that involves installment payments.
Whatever the dollar amount agreed to, send no money until National Credit Services confirms the terms of your settlement in writing.
If they don’t send written confirmation, they may accept your partial payment, then pursue you for the balance of the debt.
Get Professional Help
Dealing with National Credit Services is a complicated process, and consumers are often unsuccessful in dealing with collection agencies themselves.
If you feel the situation is beyond your capabilities, or if you have multiple collection accounts to deal with, we recommend you get professional help.
Start with a good credit repair company
However, if National Credit Services threatens you with legal action, you may need to hire a credit attorney. Lexington Law specializes in credit law and may keep the case from ever making it to court.