How can you have a collections account with M Leonard & Associates listed on your credit report when you’ve never heard of them, let alone opened an account with a company by this name?
You might be getting calls from M Leonard & Associates, too, leaving you wondering why. You can take steps to remove this company from your credit report, stop their calls and move forward, but this starts by understanding who M Leonard & Associates is and why they’re contacting you.
M Leonard & Associates is a long-standing third-party debt collection agency. When someone has an account, such as a credit card account, they’re required to make payments on an agreed-upon schedule.
When that doesn’t happen and a person becomes behind on payments, at first, the original creditor will usually try to collect the past-due amount. Eventually, the creditor might decide they aren’t going to be able to collect, so they can outsource this work to a third-party collector or sell a debt.
M Leonard & Associates is a company that an original creditor might outsource the work of debt collections.
There are a lot of reasons original creditors outsource debt collection, including because they intentionally think it will be more intimidating to the person who owes money, and they’ll be more likely to recover a debt. Consumers are also significantly impacted by collections accounts on their credit reports.
M Leonard & Associates is a company based in Van Nuys, CA.
This agency collects in different industries, including for medical providers.
The Better Business Bureau does not accredit M Leonard & Associates, and it has an F-rating. They are a legitimate company and not a scam, but there are still a lot of consumer complaints about how they do business.
For example, consumers allege that M Leonard & Associates doesn’t follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when they’re trying to collect.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a broad federal law that’s meant to protect consumers from abusive behavior from third-party collectors. A debt collector can’t use harassment or threats when contacting a consumer, because of the FDCPA. Debt collectors are prevented from being deceptive about what a consumer owes or trying to misrepresent themselves in the process of collecting.
A debt collector isn’t allowed to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 at night. They can’t repeatedly call you or call you more than a certain number of times in a week-long period. Threats, profanity, and speaking about your debt to other people, such as your employer or family members, is also prohibited.
If you’re getting calls from this company, they should inform you that it’s an attempt to collect a debt. Whether or not you actually owe the debt can be a major question.
Debt collectors often only get limited information from original creditors. That information may be incorrect or incomplete, so the collection agency will have to try to fill in the gaps on its own. That can leave a lot of room for mistakes. For example, debt collectors will often contact the wrong person because they share a similar name or Social Security number with someone else.
There are frequently mistakes in debt collection related to old debts as well. Debts are supposed to expire and drop off credit reports after a certain amount of time, but old debts can be relisted as new.
As a consumer, you actually have three different credit reports because there are three main reporting bureaus. These bureaus are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. The information contained on each can vary somewhat because some companies will report to one or two bureaus but not the other.
When you go to a lender to apply for a mortgage, you want to open a new credit card, buy a car, or even rent a home, there’s very likely going to be a credit check. The lender will pull your reports and then decide whether or not they should offer you credit.
The lender could turn you down if there’s negative information on your credit report, like a collections account with M Leonard & Associates. Even if you don’t get turned down, you will likely have a significantly higher interest rate if you have a collections account on your credit.
This is why it’s important to be proactive about checking your credit and correcting mistakes when you find them. Otherwise, you could be sidelined from making big purchases or taking important financial steps.
If you believe that M Leonard & Associates is trying to wrongly collect from you, or there’s been any kind of error, the Fair Credit Reporting Act provides the opportunity to dispute the information. The FCRA also works to provide transparency, fairness, and accuracy in credit reporting and the use of the information.
When a dispute is submitted to a debt collector, under the FCRA, they have 30 days to do an investigation. At that point, the company should update or remove wrong information. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens. Debt collectors are notorious for not being responsive or not making changes to credit reports even when they say they will.
It often takes working with a consumer protection attorney to get a debt collection agency to pay attention to a dispute and make necessary changes based on their investigation.
Consumers mistakenly think that if they just settle or pay a debt, that will mean it’s off their credit report. Along with the fact that you might not even legitimately owe it, there’s no guarantee of removal even once you pay.
That’s why it’s best to talk to a consumer protection attorney first before taking any other steps in dealing with M Leonard & Associates or any debt collector.
If you’re ready to move forward and get past your difficult situation with M Leonard & Associates, Fair Credit can help. Our FCRA attorneys offer free case reviews, so reach out today.