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Duplicate negative accounts on credit reports will crash a credit score

QUESTION: I hope my example will help others who may also be in the same predicament and have the same question. I did two days of nothing but research and I cannot find an answer to this question below (likely because it’s not considered a duplicate but I want to be sure and don’t know where else to turn). I need to know if the same company name listed twice by the same original creditor too, is considered a duplicate? The amounts are similar but different and the account numbers are also similar but different.

3 Types of duplicate credit account reporting

1. Original creditor reporting duplicate accounts.

There are instances where original creditors make the mistake of sending a duplicate entry on certain accounts. If you only have ONE account with the creditor, yet have two separate accounts reporting at the credit bureaus; duplicate reporting has occurred.

Plus, your credit scores may suffer because it appears that you have more DEBT than you actually have.

In situations where the original creditor sold your account to a new lender that may result in two separate accounts reporting. But your credit reports would more than likely state that the account was sold to a new lender and the balance of the original creditor would be zero; while the new creditor would reflect an actual balance.

It definitely sounds like duplicate reporting has occurred as long as you only opened ONE account with that creditor. You can begin your dispute directly with the credit bureaus first, they may delete the duplicate then no further work is required. If not, you can dispute directly with the creditor requesting they remove the duplicate account. If the original creditor refuses to delete the duplicate account then take your dispute to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sample steps to take to dispute duplicate accounts with credit bureaus:

  • Make copies of your credit reports, highlighting the duplicates.
  • Send a dispute letter requesting removal of the duplicate account name, account number and balance.
  • Send the letter and copy of your report to the bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — that have reported the duplicates.

Sample letter to creditor to dispute duplicate accounts:

To Whom It May Concern:

Upon review of my credit report, I discovered there is more than one account with your company with various account numbers and account balances. My records show that I have only one account with your company and that account number is ______________.

Account number ____________ is a duplicate and should be deleted immediately as the variations of account numbers and balances is inaccurate credit reporting.

Please delete the duplicate account from my credit reports unless you can provide me with written documentation, including my signatures, that authorized your company to open more than one account.

2. Original creditor and collection agency reporting duplicate accounts.

When an account is charged-off and sold to a collection agency, both the original creditor can report the account to the credit bureaus as well as the collection agency. However, the original creditor must zero out the balance. The history with the original creditor can still be reported. And, the collection agency can report the account with the date they acquired the debt plus any fees they have added.

3. Multiple collection agencies reporting the same debt.

If the collection agency sells the debt to a new debt collector, the new owner of the debt can report the collection. But the selling debt collector is required to delete their reporting from the credit bureaus. The new debt collector can report the date they acquired the account along with a new balance if they’ve added fees and interests.

Keep in mind the date the account is due to be removed from your credit reports does not change. That date is based on the original delinquency of the account and does not change no matter how many different collection agencies purchase the debt.

Sample letter to credit bureaus to dispute duplicate collection accounts reporting:

To Whom It May Concern:

Upon review of my credit report, there are duplicate collection accounts reporting for the same debt. Credit reporting agency policy mandates that a debt collector must delete their reported collection if their collection authority has been terminated with the debt remaining unpaid.

Please delete collection account number ____________ immediately as the new debt collector has obtained collection authority.

The credit bureaus should comply with your request to delete duplicate reporting. In the event they don’t, you can make a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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