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I'm a college graduate, home owner, and I have a decent credit score. I just received a letter from a collection agency claiming I owe upwards of $700 on a delinquent debt from an apartment I lived in my last year of college (2.5 years ago).

There were three of us in the apartment. We were signed in with a joint lease (I know now how evil they are). One of my roomates decided to quit paying rent after the first semester. I paid all of my rent (even ended up paying around $500 more than my share) at the end of it all.

The apartment owners took the total balance at the end of the lease and divided it by three. The roomate that owed all of that balance paid 1/3rd of the remaining balance and the owners said he was off the hook. So now, 2.5 years later, me and the other roomate are being forced to pay the other 2/3rds of the rent + %40 for collection services. $1400 / 2 each.

So, the question is do I pay the collection agency (I have 5 days to do it) or just let them report it to the credit bureau?

I've talked to the delinquent roomate and he is willing to take responsibility for the debt but the apartment owners don't care. They want their money in 5 days.

tldr; joint lease, paid more than 1/3 of all charges during the lease, reported to collections for another roomates debt while said roomate is off the hook for paying 1/3 of the end balance.

  • You might want to adjust the title of your question. Having an account sent to a debt collector has no effect on your credit. It is having it sent to a credit bureau that hurts ya. – JohnFx Jan 20 '11 at 22:30
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Offer them $500 with the condition that you will have paid your liability in full and they don't report to the bureau.

If they give you grief, hang up on the guy. Be aggressive and assertive -- the collector is going to get chewed out if he can't collect on something this simple. Don't allow them to give you some guilt trip, and don't sweat the deadline.

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    And get it in writing before you pay, and pay by money order when you do pay. – MrChrister Jan 21 '11 at 4:39
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    Also, make sure you keep the letter and the copy of the money order/certified check for the rest of your life... – Timo Geusch Jan 21 '11 at 15:09
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Thanks to the joint lease, I guess you're still contractually on the hook for the remainder of the rent. Did the apartment owners actually contact you before sending the debt collectors after you?

As you do technically owe the money, they can sue you if you don't pay, so it's not "just" on your credit report.

That said, if they haven't contacted you before sending the goons in, I'd try to negotiate the collection fee - 40% sounds a tad excessive to me.

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