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How can I find out which collection agency I owe?

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Woman paying bills by phone
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There may be times when you know you have an account in collections, but you aren't sure exactly which collection agency you owe. Here are four ways you can find out which collection agency or agencies you owe.

Ask the Original Creditor

If you know your debt has been sent to a collection agency, you can find out which collection agency you owe by calling the original creditor - the business that you originally had an account with. Depending on whether the debt has been assigned or sold to a collection agency or junk debt buyer, the original creditor may not take payment from you or even discuss the account with you. But, they can tell you which collection agency you owe.

Check Your Credit Report

A second way to find out which collection agency you owe is to check your credit reports. Most collection agencies report debts to the credit bureaus, so you may find the name and phone number of the collection agency on your credit report. There’s no way to know if a particular collection agency reported your debt to one credit bureau or all three, so you’ll have to check your credit reports with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

When you check your credit report, you may discover other debt collections that you may not have known about. Make a list of all the collections so you can begin handling them.

Check Your Voicemail and Caller ID

If you’ve been getting phone calls from a debt collector, you may a voice mail containing information about the collection agency, maybe even just a phone number. You can locate a collection agency even with just the phone number from your caller ID or voice mail by typing the number into a search engine. The search results may contain pages from 800notes.com or whocalled.us where other people have shared information about who called from that number and the nature of the call.

Certain collection agencies only handle certain types of debt, e.g. medical debt or past due cable bills. Searching the phone number of the collection agency can help you figure out who you owe money and why.

You could return the collection agency's phone call, but be careful about calling debt collectors without first preparing. Expect the debt collector attempt to collect payment from you once they get you on the phone.

Wait for Them to Call You

When you can’t find out anything from the original creditor, the debt’s not listed on your credit report, and you haven’t received phone calls about the debt, you can only wait for the debt collector to contact you. Old debts often switch to a different collection agency within several months, so eventually the debt will move to a collection agency that can be found using one of the methods listed above.

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