One of the most common types of collection accounts—and one experienced by many Americans—is cell phone providers.
Whether it’s a case of inability to pay, misunderstanding, or misapplied payments, payment disputes with phone companies are surprisingly common.
As one of the largest providers of cell phone services, Verizon is frequently on the other end of that collection effort.
Unfortunately, phone companies—or their collection agencies—can be particularly aggressive and unaccommodating.
As a rule, we strongly recommend making a payment if Verizon says you’re past due.
That will keep the account from going into collection, where things can get ugly.
About Verizon Collections
Verizon Collections doesn’t show up anywhere as an independent company.
Instead, it’s likely a division inside the Verizon organization dedicated to collecting on past due accounts.
No information is available about Verizon’s collection arm, so you should treat them like any other collection agency.
Officially known as Verizon Wireless, the company is based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and began operations in 1984.
It is one of the largest providers of cell phone services, and generally well regarded by consumers.
This will, of course, be of little value to you if you are dealing with a collections claim from the company.
For what it’s worth, Verizon Wireless has a Better Business Bureau rating of “A+”, the highest rating on a scale running from A+ to F.
However, in spite of the A+ rating, the company does have well over 22,000 complaints filed against it.
Some of them do relate to billing complaints and collections.
Before You Deal with Verizon Collections
Exactly how you deal with a collection account with Verizon will depend on what status the account is in.
If you are an active customer and you have a past due balance, the best approach is to pay the account and dispute it later.
But, if it has gone into collection, exactly who is attempting to collect on the debt will be critical information.
If it’s Verizon, it’s most likely because you’re a current customer. You should work out an account settlement as quickly as possible.
If it’s been turned over to a third-party collection agency, follow these general rules that apply to dealing with any collection agency.
1. Don’t Communicate by Phone
It’s always best to avoid ongoing phone contact with any collection agency, including Verizon or one of their third-party collectors.
Phone contact gives all the advantage to the collection agency.
They can call you at random times, both at home and at work.
They are skilled at getting you to provide additional information that can be used to more easily connect you to the debt.
Worst of all, they know how to get you to make promises you can’t keep—and that’s how things can get really ugly.
Collection agencies record phone conversations, knowing they can be used as evidence in court in the same manner as a written document.
Consumers aren’t always aware of that reality and may provide more information than is necessary.
Even worse, may commit to making promises to pay that they’re unable to fulfill.
Put another way, dealing with the collection agent by phone is almost never a fair fight.
They know the game, you don’t. For that reason, it’s best avoided.
Your first phone conversation with a Verizon collection agent or an appointed third-party agency should be your last.
On that phone call, give as little information as possible, get as much information as you can, and promise nothing.
2. Communicate in Writing
Under federal law, you have a right to insist on communications with a collection agency be handled in writing.
That will eliminate the relentless phone calls and minimize the likelihood you’ll disclose information or make a promise you shouldn’t.
It will also reduce the ability of the collection agency to intimidate you into compliance.
By using written correspondence, you’ll be able to keep your communication with a collection agency to a minimum.
You’ll be able to request information without giving out any in return.
This is always easier to do in written form, and much better done than on a phone call.
Written communication will force the collection agency to behave better as well.
In addition, written correspondence will give you the ability to maintain a file of all communications.
Be sure that any letters you send to the agency are sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
This will prove that you both sent your letters, and that they were received.
If the collection agency decides to pursue legal action against you, the paper trail of letters may be your best defense.
3. Do Not Promise To Pay
A promise to pay is a contract, whether made verbally (in a recorded phone call) or in writing.
If you make or imply that promise and fail to follow through, the collection agency can bring legal action against you.
It’s absolutely critical you never make a promise to send payment unless you have the funds to do it, and you’re willing to follow through.
4. Know 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.
Get Professional Help in Dealing with Verizon Collections
If you’re not making any progress with Verizon Collections, or if the process is just wearing you out, it’s time to get professional help.
If your account has gone into collection, your credit has already been impaired.
In that case, working with a good credit repair company will be your best option.
They cannot only help to settle your account, but also to minimize or even eliminate the damage to your credit report.
But, if Verizon Collections threatens you with legal action, you’ll need to get legal representation.
We recommend you do this through a law firm that specializes in credit, like Lexington Law.
Sometimes just having legal representation makes collection agencies more cooperative, and avoids having the case go to court.
Get Verizon Collections Off Your Credit
Use these steps below to help you remove a collection from your credit report:
Demand Debt Validation Letter
A collection agency is legally required to provide proof that you owe a debt.
As such, you should request a debt validation letter from Verizon or their representative collection agency.
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
- information that clearly connects you to the obligation
If they are unable to provide the letter, or it doesn’t conclusively connect the debt to you, they must drop the collection effort against you.
This is not as unusual as it sounds.
Collection accounts are often the result of mistaken identity or an improperly credited payment.
A completed debt validation letter will either confirm or refute the legitimacy of the debt.
If the collection agency can’t fully validate the debt, you can even open a dispute with the three credit bureaus.
They will be required to investigate your claim within 30 days.
If the agency is unable to validate the debt with the three credit bureaus, they’ll delete the account from your credit report.
Just be aware that even if the account gets deleted from your credit report, the collection agency may continue to pursue you for payment.
If that’s the case, you may need to get professional help, as mentioned above.
Request a Goodwill Deletion
A goodwill deletion is when you request a collection agency remove a collection account from your credit reports on a paid debt.
If you’ve already paid a collection account to Verizon or their assigned collection agency, you may be able to send a goodwill letter to the collection agency and request deletion.
The letter should remind the agency that:
- the debt is paid in full
- describe the circumstances that were beyond your control that led to the debt going into collection.
If you can prove those circumstances,—such as divorce, death of a loved one, disability, or other cause—the company may delete the collection account as a goodwill gesture.
Your case will be stronger if you can support your explanation with documentation that proves the circumstances that led to the collection.
Offer a “Pay-for-Delete” Agreement
You might use this strategy on a debt you still owe.
This is where you promise to make payment on the debt in exchange for the collection agency removing the collection account from your credit reports.
You’ll send the agency a pay-for-delete letter outlining the details of your request.
But, you should know that even if the agency agrees to the arrangement, it still may not happen.
Pay-for-delete arrangements are not legally enforceable, even if the collection agency agrees to one in writing.
For that reason, they may agree to your proposal, accept your payment, and still not delete the collection account from your credit report.
Demand Deletion if They Can’t Validate the Debt
This will likely be your best hope to both eliminate the collection and remove the collection account from your credit report.
As discussed earlier, if the collection agency is unable to verify all the information in connection with the debt or even any at all, you can challenge the validity of the debt.
At a minimum, you can dispute the collection account with the three credit bureaus, and they’ll remove it from your credit reports if the collection agency is unable to validate the debt with them either.
Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
This may be the best strategy if your primary goal is to settle the account, make the collection agency go away, and somewhat improve your credit score by reporting the collection account as settled.
Don’t be afraid to try this strategy either. To avoid the account never getting paid, many collection agencies will settle for less than the full amount.
Send the collection agency a letter proposing to settle the debt for some amount well below the full amount.
We recommend making your first offer something less than 50% of the full amount.
If the collection agency is willing to settle, they’ll counter with a higher dollar amount.
It’s likely you’ll continue to go back and forth several times until you arrive at a satisfactory number.
If they don’t counter on your first offer, it’s likely that they’re not open to a settlement.
But, even if they agree to settle, send no money until they confirm all the details of your agreement in writing.
That will include agreeing to:
- accept the reduced payment in full satisfaction of the debt
- ending further attempts to collect on the debt
- reporting the account as paid with all three major credit bureaus
Once you receive the letter, then send your payment.