No. of Recommendations: 7

You wrote, How long does a collection take to fall off a report? I have one on my credit report from 3 years ago. It is a disputed bill with AT&T. I never had that phone number (some other area code halfway across the country) and I have asked for proof that I owe the bill, but it keeps getting sold, and I keep getting contacted by a new collection agency every few months, once I ask for proof. I have started ignoring the letters and calls recently.

I am almost at the point where I am considering paying it off (it is about $300) just to get them off my back, but I don't want to damage my credit more than I already have because of this. I might want to move back to California sometime in the next few years, which would make credit necessary so I can buy a house...

I don't handle extortion well. I wouldn't pay for something if I didn't think they had a valid case for me owing it. To hell with my credit - that's just extortion.

Something similar happened to a friend. I encouraged him to file a small claims case against the phone company and the collection agency. I forget if they settled or if he won a judgment against them; but it made them go away.

In fact, he had a couple of items like this on his credit report. And he'd worked as a contractor around the same time and his employer (American Airlines) stiffed him. And I think there was some incident with his bank over a debit card as well. He sued them all. I remember hearing him telling me ecstatically not only about winning his cases; but actually getting checks from these companies. These days he takes everything to court when threatened/challenged.

Not just small claims - he lives in a small town north of Dallas with a lot of growth around it. The neighboring towns set up speed traps all the time. About once he a year they ticket him, so he makes them take it to a jury trial and appeals when he loses. He's better off now than he used to be and he tells me doesn't mind the cost - win or lose - as long as he can make sure they spend more fighting him than they can collect.

He seems to know more about the law than I do now. (We're both engineers, not lawyers.) And he does it all pro se. Makes me proud...

- Joel
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