If you’ve been contacted by Southwest Credit Systems, or if you’ve seen a collection account on your credit report from them, you’ll need to take action.
Southwest Credit Systems is a legitimate collection company, and ignoring them won’t make them go away.
In dealing with Southwest Credit Systems the best approach is to be proactive and handle the situation quickly.
In this article, we’ll spell out detailed strategies for dealing with Southwest Credit Systems.
But if you don’t feel you can handle the task yourself – and most consumers can’t – we’ll also recommend professional sources that can get the job done for you.
What is Southwest Credit Systems?
Southwest Credit Systems is based in Carrollton, Texas, and has been in business since 1974.
The company describes itself as a “leading national provider of accounts receivable management and consumer service solutions”.
They describe their approach as customer-service oriented, designed to deliver solutions to consumers while helping them maintain a positive relationship with the original service provider.
They specifically indicate they look to set you up with a convenient payment option to enable payment of the debt.
The company doesn’t indicate what types of businesses or organizations it handles collections for.
That’s usually an indication they provide services for diversified sources.
That being the case, you may hear from Southwest Credit Systems for just about any type of collection account.
Southwest Credit Systems has a Better Business Bureau rating of “B”, on a scale running from A+ to F. The company has been BBB accredited since 1976.
That means Southwest Credit Systems is a legitimate collection company, though 346 complaints have been filed with the agency in the past three years.
How to Deal with Southwest Credit Systems
There’s a lot of pleasant language on the Southwest Credit Systems website, and while they may use more accommodating language in phone conversations and correspondence, you should never forget that you’re ultimately dealing with a collection agency.
Whatever they do or say – regardless of how disarming it may sound – it’s all part of the methodology to get you to pay up.
And though it may seem as if Southwest Credit Systems is primarily interested in setting you up on a payment plan, the preference is always to have the entire balance owed up front.
And as you might expect, their approach to dealing with you may be less accommodating if you are unable to honor a payment agreement for any reason.
Remembering that Southwest Credit Systems is a collection agency, we recommend you use the following strategies in dealing with them.
Before we get into specific strategies for dealing with Southwest Credit Systems, let’s start with some general information you need to know that’s virtually standard in dealing with any collection agency.
1. Avoid telephone contact
No matter how pleasant the approach taken by the representative from Southwest Credit Systems, phone conversations with collection agencies should be avoided.
Collection agencies record conversations and can use that information as evidence against you should they decide to pursue legal action.
The first contact from the company may be by phone, but you should make that your last live exchange.
If Southwest Credit Systems does contact you by phone, provide no information, and don’t admit to anything – including the debt they claim you owe.
Instead, your sole purpose in a phone conversation with the company should be an attempt to gather information from them.
If they do provide any information, be sure you write down who you spoke to, when, what that party’s direct phone number is, and the basic contents of the discussion.
2. All contact should be in writing
As a consumer being contacted about a debt, you have the legal right to request that all communication be handled in writing.
That’s a right you should absolutely exercise.
Written correspondence will avoid the possibility of a company representative getting information from you.
It will also enable you to provide only limited information, which is easier to do in writing than it is through a phone call.
What’s more, written correspondence in both directions can be retained for your records.
That will make it much easier to recall important details well after the fact.
Be sure that any correspondence you send to Southwest Credit Systems is sent using certified mail, return receipt requested.
It’ll cost you a few dollars for each certified letter you send, but it will also establish an all-important paper trail that you can both hold the company to in future negotiations, as well as use as evidence in any legal proceedings.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to do it
This may be the single most important tip in dealing with any collection agency.
If you make a promise to pay, either in a phone conversation or in writing, and you fail to follow through for any reason, the collection agency can use the broken promise as evidence against you in court.
Avoiding making a payment promise is more difficult than it sounds. The collection agency will be doing everything possible to get you to do just that.
Your mission will be to avoid making any promises of payments unless you are willing and financially able to follow through.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
Southwest Credit Systems has received many complaints over the years.
It’s highly likely that these complaints are in regard to harassment. After all, that’s what most debt collection agencies are known for.
So you need to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
You can learn these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You are protected from certain abuses under this federal law. Being confident in this knowledge can give you an upper hand if things get ugly.
If all of this seems like too much for you to handle on your own,
we recommend that you seek help from a professional credit repair specialist.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with Southwest Credit Systems
Demand a Debt Validation Letter
As is the case with all collection agencies, Southwest Credit Systems is required to provide you with what’s known as a debt validation letter.
The purpose of the letter is to provide you with complete information regarding the debt.
That includes details such as the name, date, and amount of the debt, and any other information that would connect you to the debt.
From the collection agency’s standpoint, the debt verification letter will prove the debt is legitimate, and you are the responsible party.
But from your own standpoint, it will also open the possibility of challenging the debt.
Collection agencies often pursue collections on obligations that have actually been paid already, and in many cases, the debt is a case of mistaken identity.
The debt verification letter will provide you with the information that will enable you to prove either point.
And if you can, Southwest Credit Systems will need to cease collection activities and delete any negative information from your credit reports.
Request a Goodwill Deletion
This strategy has a low percentage of success. That’s because a goodwill letter is where you make a request for the company to delete the collection information from your credit reports in exchange for payment.
There are two limitations with a goodwill letter:
- The collection account must be paid in full; a collection agency probably would not consider deleting an entry from your credit report if it’s only partially paid, and
- you must tell the collector that you had a legitimate reason the debt wasn’t paid on time. The reason must be due to circumstances you couldn’t control, such as health conditions, loss of a job, death of a loved one, divorce, etc.
If the debt has been paid and your letter can convince Southwest Credit Systems the debt was due to extenuating circumstances, they may delete the information from your credit reports. However, understand that they are under no legal obligation to do so.
Offer a “Pay-for-Delete” Agreement
This is another strategy with a very limited likelihood of success.
And if requesting accommodation under a goodwill letter requires the full payment of the debt, pay-for-delete can only be used if the full debt amount is still due.
The process starts by sending a pay-for-delete letter to Southwest Credit Systems.
In the letter, you’ll be offering to pay the entire amount of the debt you owe in exchange for the company deleting collection accounts from your credit reports entirely.
Pay-for-delete arrangements are, more than anything, an attempt to take advantage of the fact that collection agencies will do just about anything to collect on a debt.
However, that hardly guarantees the request will be successful.
Unfortunately, pay-for-delete arrangements are not enforceable, legally, that is.
That means Southwest Credit Systems can agree to it, either in a phone conversation or even by mail, accept your payment – then refuse to delete the information from your credit report. If that happens, you’ll have no legal recourse.
Under agreements creditors and collection agencies have with the credit bureaus, they can report the payment of an obligation, but they’re not supposed to delete negative information simply because the debt has been paid.
Demand Deletion of the Account if Southwest Credit Systems Can’t Verify the Debt
This is the most effective strategy when working with any collection agency, if it proves to be true.
If Southwest Credit Systems is unable to verify any information about the debt, or fails to provide important information, you can challenge the legitimacy of the debt.
Southwest Credit Systems will then be obligated to remove the collection from your credit report and cease further collection efforts.
Even if they don’t, you can use the missing or incomplete debt verification letter to dispute the obligation through the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
They’ll then have 30 days to investigate your dispute, and if Southwest Credit Systems similarly fails to provide complete information about the debt, they can delete the information directly.
However, even though Southwest Credit Systems is supposed to halt their attacks against you, they may continue to pursue you for the debt.
If nothing else, you should understand that collection agencies don’t play fair.
Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
This is almost certainly the most common way collection accounts are settled.
The main reason why collection accounts happen in the first place is that the consumer lacks the money to pay.
That situation doesn’t change because the account has gone into collection.
Collection agencies are aware of this fact, and many are prepared to negotiate a settlement in which a partial payment will be accepted in full satisfaction of the debt.
If you’re going to attempt this strategy, you’ll need to be prepared to negotiate. Offer to settle the account with a relatively low amount.
Don’t be afraid to offer 50% or less of the amount Southwest Credit Systems claims you owe.
They’ll almost certainly reject your initial offer, then counter with their own figure, which will be below the full amount owed.
After several rounds of negotiations, you should be able to settle the debt for substantially less than the full amount owed. But don’t go sending any money just yet.
Before sending any money in a partial settlement arrangement, first, be sure Southwest Credit Systems sends you a letter confirming your understanding.
That means they’re willing to accept a lower amount in full satisfaction of the total amount owed.
Additionally, they must agree to halt further collection efforts, and to report the pay off of the account to all three credit bureaus.
Understand, however, that settling for less than the full amount owed will enable you to pay off the debt, but the collection accounts will continue to remain on your credit reports for up to seven years from the date the account first became delinquent.
That’s why you may want to seriously consider the next step…
Get Professional Help
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in dealing with Southwest Credit Systems yourself. For that reason, you may want to get professional help.
Not only will that remove the stress of dealing with a collection agency, but professionals are more likely to get a more favorable outcome.
If you don’t want to take on Southwest Credit Systems yourself, or if you have several collection accounts that need to be dealt with, the best strategy is to engage the services of a good credit repair company.
However, if Southwest Credit Systems 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.