You’ve checked your credit report, and a negative collection account is listed as Grant Mercantile Agency. What can you do? You may or may not be receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from this company as well.
In either situation, there are things you can do to protect your consumer rights, remove this company from your credit report, and stop hearing from them.
The Grant Mercantile Agency, or GMA, is a California-based third-party debt collector. A third-party debt collector is also referred to as a debt collection agency. These companies aren’t original creditors, so you don’t get loans from them or open accounts with a debt collector.
Instead, companies like the Grant Mercantile Agency work on behalf of clients, who are original creditors, to collect on past-due accounts.
A first-party debt collector would be the original company someone had a debt with. For example, a credit card issuer is a first-party collector. Once a debt isn’t paid for a period of time, usually several months, the first-party collector might outsource collections to a third party.
The role of a debt collector from the Grant Mercantile Agency is to let people know about their debts that are currently in collections and try to get payments. A debt collector can contact you by phone, mail, or electronically, but there are limitations to contacting you because of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector must be transparent and not use harassment or threats. Debt collectors can’t be deceptive and should let you know your rights to dispute debts. Debt collectors can’t reach out early in the morning or after 9 p.m. or lie to you about anything involving your account.
It’s natural to think that if you hear from a company demanding payment from you, it could be a scam. There are numerous scams related to debt collection, but the Grant Mercantile Agency is a legitimate company. Even so, if you get calls from any debt collector, it’s best to talk to a consumer protection attorney before doing anything else.
The Grant Mercantile Agency collects for government entities, such as city and county governments, and they collect on license and traffic fees and on behalf of county healthcare facilities. The company also collects for private healthcare clients.
The Grant Mercantile Agency does commercial collections, which are business-to-business and collects for ambulance companies.
You have three credit reports with Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. The GMA reports to all three bureaus. When you have a collections account listed on one or all of your credit reports, it’s one of the most serious negative pieces of information that can be on there, meaning it might significantly affect your credit score.
Sometimes, collections accounts can cause scores to drop as much as 100 points. That can mean the difference between being approved for credit, new accounts, or a lower interest rate.
When you have a collections account on your credit report, it’s important to try to have it removed, especially if you think there’s a mistake. If you don’t dispute the debt, the only way to have it removed otherwise is typically to wait until the statute of limitations expires, which can be as long as seven years.
By submitting a dispute, which is your right to do under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can potentially have the information updated or removed quickly, so it doesn’t affect your score anymore.
You can submit a dispute on your own, but the recommendation is that an attorney does it on your behalf. Working with an FCRA attorney can help you protect your rights and make sure that the necessary steps for a dispute are followed to get the situation remedied as soon as possible.
When a dispute is submitted to the Grant Mercantile Agency on your behalf or to any other company, they have to legally investigate it and report their findings within 30 days, at which point they should correct or delete wrong information. When consumers try to handle the dispute process on their own without an attorney, they often find that the company isn’t responsive or doesn’t follow through with the removal of wrong information.
Talking directly to a debt collector can lead to you acknowledging the debt as legitimate, even if you didn’t mean to. That acknowledgment can restart the statute of limitations.
There are a lot of reasons you can dispute a debt with the Grant Mercantile Agency or any debt collector. In a study recently, consumers were asked to check their credit reports for errors. After doing so, more than one-third of the study’s participants found mistakes. It’s common, which is why you should be vigilant about checking your credit report and never assume that it’s best just to pay a debt without any further verification.
Reasons that information could be wrong include that the original creditor you had an account with sent the wrong information to the Grant Mercantile Agency. Maybe they sent the wrong balance or payment information or mixed your personal information with another person’s.
It could also be that the information on your credit report itself is wrong. Maybe a debt is old but is listed as new, or your credit file got mixed with another person’s. It could also be that a debt is listed more than once or something about it isn’t right on your credit report, like how much you owe.
There’s a lot of room for error with debts and credit reporting information, especially once it’s made its way to a third-party collector.
If you’re tired of feeling stuck with negative information on your credit report, or seemingly nonstop phone calls, Fair Credit can help. We’ll review your case for free, so reach out today.