The first step in identifying the original creditor is to review the collection letters from the collection agencies. Most collectors will identify what Original Creditor they are collecting on. See examples below.
If you are looking at a collection letter and can’t find the original creditor’s information, it’s okay. Some collection agencies include the original creditor’s name and account number on each letter that they send you, while others don’t. If you don’t know the original creditor for one of your collection agency accounts, use the tips below. It is VERY important to research and provide this info.
Tips to identify the Original Creditor
- Research your records: Do you have statements from your original creditors filed away? If so, grab your statements - compare them to the collection letters - and try to identify which original creditor is tied to which collection agency. Some collection agencies will list the original creditor account number on their letters – or at least the last 4 digits – you may be able to match it up that way.
- Request a copy of your credit report: You may be able to match your original creditor accounts to your collection account by looking at your credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Call the collection agency: This is the least recommended option – but it is a possibility should you choose to use it. If you do choose to call a collection agency, it is suggested to keep it short and simple. Let the collector know right away that before you discuss any aspect about this account, you need to know the original creditor name and account number. Request that they verbally provide you the info now and also mail you a letter with the info for your records. It is very likely that the collector will try to engage in you in conversations about paying this debt, to set up payments – they will likely try to get whatever information they can out of you. Again – keep it short and sweet – let the collector know that you are willing to resolve this debt, eventually – but you need to have some information first. For more details on handling creditor phone calls, take some time to read through the Phone Call Scripts.