A bill was sent to the wrong address and is now in collections: What do I do?

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22 Apr, 2024
Daniel Cohen
11 min
bill sent to wrong address now in collections

You have rights if a bill is sent to the wrong address and winds up in collections

You can take several actions if a bill goes to the wrong address and ends up in collections.

Is it possible you can owe a debt and be entirely unaware of it? Emphatically, yes. Can a debt collector call you out of the blue about a debt for which you received absolutely no notification? Again, yes. 

This could be the case even when letters and other forms of communication were sent to inform you of the bill, but you didn’t receive them. The fact you didn’t get the notices sent by your creditor, which caused the bill to wind up in collections, doesn’t mean that the debt has vanished.

This post discusses your rights and steps you can take in the event the notices were sent to the wrong address and you’re suddenly faced with a collections account.

Steps to Take When Wrongfully Sent to Collections

Facing the consequences of being wrongfully sent to collections can be overwhelming and stressful. If you find yourself in this situation, it's essential to know what to do if you are wrongfully sent to collections. Begin by gathering all relevant documentation, disputing the debt with the credit bureaus, and reaching out to the debt collector to resolve the issue. Should your efforts prove unsuccessful, it may be time to seek legal assistance. Contact our experienced legal team to guide you through the process and protect your rights, ensuring the best possible outcome for your case.

What to do when a bill was sent to the wrong address and winds up in collections

When you’re facing this situation, the law allows you to take some actions. Let’s consider these actions.

Request proof and confirmation of the debt

There’s a chance the debt in question is not yours. There’s also the possibility that the said debt is an old debt brought previously by other collection agencies. Even worse, the debt could be a result of a credit check error or identity theft issue. 

You need to exercise your right and request verification of the debt. The right stemming from the Fair Credit Reporting Act is inviolable, and the collector must comply with the law.

Upon initial contact from the debt collector, the process swings into action. The debt collector is obligated to furnish you with details about the debt and a statement of your rights within five days. After receiving the initial contact, you have 30 days to request a confirmation of the debt. The confirmation shows who incurred the debt and when it was incurred.

If the initial contact letter sent to you by the collector ends up at the wrong address, the collector would be held to have run afoul of the law.   

Additional steps

If the debt is confirmed, you can go ahead and pay it. If the debt is not substantiated, the collector has to stop contacting you.

Keep in mind the ultimate goal is to get your account out of collections. Therefore, you benefit from checking your credit report. Consult with your original creditor to tackle debt in collections for which you received no prior notice. 

Since the law seeks to ensure fair and accurate reports, you can dispute the collections accountwhich is actually a credit reporting error. This will save your credit score from the ravaging effects of missed payments.

Bills that are sent to the wrong address and end up in collections can prove tough to untangle. Additionally, the debt collectors might resort to various forms of harassment or violate the law to recover the debt. You need an attorney to help you deal with these hassles.

Reach out to us right away if you need help.

Daniel Cohen is the Founding Partner of Consumer Attorneys
About the author
Daniel Cohen
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Daniel Cohen is the Founder of Consumer Attorneys. Daniel manages the firm’s branding, marketing, client intake and business development efforts. Since 2017, he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center. Mr. Cohen is a nationally-recognized practitioner of consumer protection law. He has a wealth of proven legal experience in the US in: collective claims, representing visually impaired people who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated in both the physical and digital environments, corporate governance and dispute resolution. Read more

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