Have your unpaid debts been shuttled off to a collection agency? Or maybe you actually paid your debt but a creditor believes you didn’t. That can be much worse, because collection agencies are not interested in making deals or listening to reason (in most cases). They just want your money, because they’ve already purchased your debt from your creditor (for pennies on the dollar in some cases) and collecting on that debt is how they make money.

Even scarier than being hounded by a real collection agency, however, are debt collection scams. Companies will contact you “on behalf of a creditor” and claim you owe money on a particular account. These companies can be as relentless as legitimate debt collection agencies in their debt collection practicies.

If you’re being harassed with letters and phone calls from a debt collection company, the first step is to find out who you’re dealing with. In negotiations, a major key to success is knowing your opposition. Here’s a list of some of the top U.S.-based collection agencies and a little bit about the tactics they use.


Is the company that’s contacting you not on this list? They could be a real debt collection agency, but investigate further just to make sure! You can read our article about debt collection scams for more tips on how to deal with these companies.



1. NCO Financial. This is the largest of more than 5,000 legitimate debt collection agencies in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean their business practices are sound, or legal. In fact, they are known as one of the nastiest debt collection agencies, too, crossing the line into illegal harassment activities like using profanity and threats on the phone. NCO also has several subsidiaries that also provide debt collection services, including North Shore Agency, Inc., Transworld Systems, Inc., and University Accounting Service, LLC.

2. American Agencies. A Google search for “debt collection agencies” turns up American Agencies as the number one firm, even ahead of NCO Financial. This company has been collecting debts for Fortune 100 companies for more than 30 years. If you owe student loans, medical bills or telecommunications bills, this company might contact you, since these are some of their top agencies. Like most of the large debt collection agencies, there are many complaints about this company to be found online.

3. Midland Credit Management. This is a publicly-traded company and is one of the few debt collection agencies accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Unlike many other debt collectors, this company is consumer-focused. They approach debt collection as a way to help people with unpaid debts. However, if your debts are already charged off, paying a collection agency won’t help your credit rating. The information is already listed on your credit report. Midland does purchase charged off debts. This is probably one of the better debt collection agencies to do business with, but reply to their phone calls or letters with caution, and speak to an attorney if you feel the debt collection case is an error.

4. LVNV Funding. This is one of the largest debt collection agencies and does business under a number of other names, including Resurgent, Alegis Group, Sherman Financial Group, Pinnacle Financial Group, and others. They are known for illegal and unfair practices, including lying to people about legal action in order to collect a debt.

With more than 5,000 debt collection agencies nationwide, it’s impossible to list them all. And many operate under multiple names. Even legitimate debt collection companies — all the ones on this list are actually debt collection companies — may resort to illegal practices to collect a debt. Use caution when dealing with a debt collection agency and don’t hesitate to hire a reputable lawyer who can negotiate on your behalf. 



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