How To Remove Wakefield & Associates From Your Credit Report

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By Lauren Bringle, AFC®

Wakefield & Associates is one of the largest debt collection agencies in the United States. If it has dinged your credit and is contacting you to collect on a debt or collection account, there are ways to have it removed from your credit report.

What is Wakefield & Associates?

Wakefield & Associates describes itself as a company that “offers commercial creditors multiple options to solve receivables management challenges.”[1] In simple terms, this means they are involved in debt collection.

Debt collectors sometimes work for the company that initially did the billing. But there are also third-party agencies such as Wakefield & Associates that take over the debt collection process. When the original company that is owed a debt believes they won't be able to collect the debt, they sell it to a collection agency because they don't want to waste time or resources attempting to collect.

The company you owe reports your account as a “charge-off” or lost cause when that happens. They then sell your debt to a collections agency willing to take over and put resources into getting you to pay.

Wakefield & Associates is one of the companies that buys debts from third parties. Based in Colorado, it operates as a debt collections agency that’s been in business since 1946.[1]

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Contact information

Wakefield & Associates is headquartered at 10800 E Bethany Dr, Ste 450, Aurora, CO 80014-2697. As of 2021, Matt Laws is the company president, and Ken Fleming is listed as the compliance officer. [2]

The company website is www.wakeassoc.com, and its consumer service and debt collections phone number is 1-800-264-9399, the fax number is 1-303-537-2901.[3]

In addition to its Aurora headquarters, Wakefield & Associates operates out of six other sites, including two in Tennessee[4]:

  • 830 E Platte Ave, Fort Morgan, CO 80701
  • 7005 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37909
  • 3702 W Truman Blvd, Jefferson City, MO 65109
  • 615 Hope Road Bldg 3a, 2nd Floor, Eatontown, NJ 07724
  • 110 J Street, Rock Springs, WY 82901
  • 2004 American Way, Ste 211, Kingsport, TN 37660

Is Wakefield & Associates a real company?

Wakefield & Associates is a real company. According to their website, it has been in business since 1946. However, the Better Business Bureau opened a file on the company in 1982 and lists that they’ve only been in business at their Colorado headquarters since 1986.

You might also hear the company referred to as Wakefield Collections, Wakefield Payment Solutions, or Wakefield and Associates Inc. The company may also be referred to as Wakefield RRC resulting from a merger with Revenue Recovery Corporation.

Wakefield & Associates has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2015, and as of September 2021, has an A-minus rating. However, customers have a less than favorable view of the company, as demonstrated by the numerous complaints and poor customer reviews submitted about it on the BBB website. The average consumer rating for Wakefield & Associates is a 1.2 star out of 5 possible.

Who do Wakefield & Associates collect for?

According to Bloomberg, the company’s line of business includes “collection and adjustment services on claims and other insurance-related issues.”[5]

The insurance-related issues are often connected to the healthcare industry, which the company refers to as its primary markets. It states that it services urban and rural hospitals, physician practice groups, dental practices, emergency medical services, and healthcare-related billing services.

According to its website, it employs billers who are certified by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM). This organization describes itself as “the only professional organization dedicated to the revenue cycle.”[1] [6]

Wakefield & Associates also provides collections services on delinquent tuition accounts and other student debt owed for university services, as well as collections for corporations, property management, “multi-unit residence debt,” and financial services firms.[1]

The bottom line is that you could receive a collection call from Wakefield & Associates for various debts. Still, you would most likely hear from them regarding medical debt.

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How to remove Wakefield & Associates from my credit report

There are several ways to potentially remove Wakefield & Associates and other collections records from your credit report. Steps include requesting a debt validation letter, negotiating a debt settlement, or writing a goodwill letter.

Request debt validation

On its own, a debt validation letter will not remove negative items on your credit report, and it doesn’t change your credit score. But, it gives you the details you would need to challenge the collection.

A debt collector is legally obligated to provide you a debt validation letter which is a document to prove you owe the money by verifying information on the claimed debt. The debt validation letter will contain how much you owe, who you owe, and why the collector believes you owe the debt. It also includes information stating how old the debt is and the agency’s authority to collect it.

The letter also needs to affirm your right to dispute the debt within 30 days and your right to request — and receive, in response to that request — more information about the original creditor.

A debt validation letter is required under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It’s vital for piecing together the puzzles surrounding a debt, which could help you avoid making payments for an unfair or improper collection attempt. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received roughly 82,700 complaints regarding debt collection in 2020, and nearly half (49%) involved attempts to collect a debt not owed.[7]

Negotiate a debt settlement

Debt settlement is a process in which you negotiate with a creditor to resolve your debt for less than what you owe. You could attempt the negotiation on your own or pay a third party, a debt settlement firm, to negotiate for you.

Either way, a settled debt appears on your credit report as a settled payment. Unfortunately, settled payments are negative marks on your credit report that may hurt your credit score. Also, there’s no guarantee that your attempt at a debt settlement will work.

To get to the point of negotiation, you have to stop paying your debts, which means you could end up as the target of a lawsuit. For example, suppose the collections agency sues you, and the judgment is against you. In that case, there's no longer an incentive for the collector to continue negotiating because they have the option to garnish your wages and banking accounts.

Depending on your debt accounts, a debt settlement might require you, or the hired agency, to negotiate with multiple creditors — and only some of those negotiations may be successful. A study by the American Fair Credit Council found that only 43% of their clients’ accounts were settled within 36 months of the settlement process. That means that the process could take more than three years for most people to know if it worked.[8]

Write a goodwill deletion letter or pay for delete letter

Another available option is to write and submit a goodwill deletion letter to the creditor. A goodwill deletion letter is a document that asks a creditor to forgive a debt and remove the bad mark from your credit record. Reasons sometimes used in the letter are that you faced an unforeseen hardship, which is a rare exception since you have a history of paying bills on time under normal circumstances.

The only negative about this method is you are entirely at the mercy of the creditor. The creditor is not under any obligation to grant your request for forgiveness. Still, it’s a small tradeoff. Writing a letter is easy, so it doesn’t hurt to try.[9]

If the debt is accurate and you can pay it off, try writing a pay for delete letter. In that letter, you would ask Wakefield & Associates to remove the negative mark on your credit report in exchange for paying off the debt.

Dispute the debt collection

If you don’t believe you owe the money that’s being sought, you have the right to dispute the debt collection. However, there’s a time limit to take this course of action. If you don’t submit a written dispute within 30 days, the debt collector will assume the debt is valid. Once you begin a debt dispute, the collector must cease all attempts to collect from you until it provides you with a debt validation, the required verification of your debt.[10]

This issue happens more often than you might expect. For example, in 2020, about 82,700 people filed debt-collection complaints, and 49% of them said they were being asked to pay money they didn’t owe.[7] That’s roughly 40,500 people who could have paid a debt they did not owe.

Additionally, 20% of complaints were about the debt’s written notification. The complaints were that the wording was vague and lacked sufficient information. Also, 10% of complaints said collectors threatened to take negative or legal action. Finally, some people complained the collectors made false statements regarding the amount owed and falsely impersonated attorneys or law enforcement. Both of these collection tactics violate the FDCPA.

Filing a complaint about illegal collection tactics won't make your debt go away. But disputing the debt itself might if you can prove it isn't yours. Billing mix-ups happen. Mistakes such as double-billing and switched identification or account numbers lead to people being asked to pay money they don't owe. Fraud is also a problem and might require contacting a law firm if you have been a victim. So for cases like these, filing a dispute is both an option and a very good idea.[7]

Should you hire a credit repair company?

A credit repair company is a firm you could hire to try and remove negative items from your credit report. They can focus their efforts on the credit reporting agencies or the companies that filed the mark on the report.

Credit repair companies used a tactic called “jamming.” The company sends a large volume of letters repeatedly disputing the same item. The notion for this approach is that the collector will fail to respond to one of the letters within the 30 days legally required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), leading to the collection account being deleted.[11]

Usually, credit repair companies make their money by billing you whenever an account is deleted. Some may attempt to charge you a flat monthly fee. Be aware, however, that this is against the law. The Credit Repair Organizations Act stipulates that credit repair companies can’t ask for or take payment until they have delivered the services they have agreed to.

Although some offer a free consultation, paying a company for credit repair services should be a last resort. That's because, with the correct information, you can do many of the same tactics the company would do on your own behalf.

Besides, no company can guarantee it can remove a negative mark from Wakefield & Associates or any other collector on your credit report. If the debt is accurate, the mark could remain on your credit history for seven to 10 years.

Keep tabs on your credit report

Like managing your credit card account, tracking your credit report and regularly checking your credit score are good habits for your financial health. Moreover, keeping tabs on your credit can help ensure no fraudulent charges or debts have been falsely assigned to you. In addition, staying on top of your credit can help avoid situations where collection agencies come after you for debt that isn’t even yours. It can also give you a good idea of what you need to do to start building your credit.

Suppose a collection attempt is made. In that situation, it will be easier to find errors in debt validation letters and dispute the record if you know your debts, their age, and status. A free way to check your credit history is by ordering a copy of your credit report from a credit reporting bureau. You’re entitled to a free report every 12 months. [12]

Complaints against Wakefield & Associates

As you might expect, Wakefield & Associates does not have a favorable consumer rating on the Better Business Bureau site. Based on 72 ratings as of Aug. 22, 2021, it averaged a 1.19 rating out of 5 stars.

As of that date, the BBB shows 507 complaints against the company, with 177 marked as closed within the past 12 months. Of the total complaints reported, 450 are related to billing or collections issues, 57 are for problems with a product or service, and one is related to advertising or sales.

Wakefield & Associates tend to answer complaints posted on BBB by listing the date services were rendered. They often also invite the poster to directly contact the company if additional information is required. [2]

Can Wakefield & Associates garnish my wages or sue me?

Yes, Wakefield & Associates can sue you for nonpayment. If it wins a judgment against you, it might be able to garnish your wages and bank account.

However, the company cannot garnish your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, veterans benefits, military annuities, survivors benefits, federal student aid, federal disaster assistance, railroad retirement benefits, or any benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

A debt collector cannot sue you if the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit has passed, making your debt time-barred. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. It might reset if you make a payment on your collections account or acknowledge in writing that you’re responsible for the debt. [13]

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Understand your rights

There are laws on things debt collectors are not allowed to do, so it’s important to know your rights when dealing with debt collectors and collection calls.

First of all, they cannot harass you with repeated phone calls or abuse you with obscenities. They also cannot pretend to be attorneys or government officers, nor can they threaten to harm you or have you arrested. Also, they can’t publish or publicize your debts.

When it comes to collecting, they cannot claim that you owe an amount different from the actual amount owed. And the collector cannot try to collect additional interest and fees that were not in your original contract.

If a debt collector is not respecting your consumer rights, report them to your state’s attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). [13]

The bottom line

Suppose Wakefield & Associates contacts you about a debt. In that case, you should be aware that they're a legitimate third-party debt collection company that collects on several kinds of debt.

But even though it’s a legitimate company and not a scam, you still have consumer protection rights. You have the right not to be harassed or abused by collection calls. Also, you can request a debt validation letter, which helps you dispute the debt if you don’t think you owe it. You can write a goodwill deletion letter or try to negotiate a debt settlement, among other tactics.

Whatever course of action you choose, it is helpful to know where to start, what the process entails, and the realistic results you can expect from your efforts. This understanding will give you perspective on the negative marks on your credit report and how to resolve or challenge them.

Sources

  1. Wakefield & Associates “About Us,” https://www.wakeassoc.com/about/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  2. Better Business Bureau. “Wakefield & Associates,” https://www.bbb.org/us/co/aurora/profile/collections-agencies/wakefield-associates-1296-15591/details. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  3. Francis, Mailman, Soumilas, Consumer Law Firm. “Wakefield & Associates,” https://www.consumerlawfirm.com/wakefield-and-associates/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  4. Wakefield & Associates. “Locations,” https://www.wakeassoc.com/locations/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  5. Bloomberg. “Wakefield & Associates Inc,” https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/1457736D:US. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  6. AAHAM. “Home.” https://www.aaham.org/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  7. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Fair Debt Collection Practices Act CFPB Annual Report 2021,” https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_fdcpa_annual-report-congress_03-2021.pdf. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  8. NFCC. “What is Debt Settlement?” https://www.nfcc.org/debt-settlement/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  9. Prevent Loan Scams. “Remove Late Payments from Your Credit With a Goodwill Letter,” https://www.preventloanscams.org/goodwill-letter/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “If I dispute a debt that is being collected, can a debt collector still try to collect the debt from me?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/if-i-dispute-a-debt-that-is-being-collected-can-a-debt-collector-still-try-to-collect-the-debt-from-me-en-338/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  11. Experian. “How Do Credit Repair Companies Work?” https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-do-credit-repair-companies-work/. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  12. Federal Trade Commission. “Get My Free Credit Report,” https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  13. Federal Trade Commission. “Debt Collection FAQs,” https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs. Accessed August 22, 2021.

About the Author

Lauren Bringle is an Accredited Financial Counselor® with Self Financial– a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings. See Lauren on Linkedin and Twitter.

Editorial Policy

Our goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).

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Written on September 21, 2021
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

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