Were you contacted by Atlantic Credit & Finance with an urgent and scary message telling you to pay up on a debt? It’s time to take quick action. There’s a chance you may not owe the debt, and you may be able to stall for time while you get your finances in order.
Here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents
- What is Atlantic Credit?
- Who does Atlantic Credit & Finance collect for?
- Is Atlantic Credit & Finance a scam?
- How to stop Atlantic Credit & Finance from calling you
- How to remove Atlantic Credit & Finance from your credit report
- How to deal with Atlantic Credit & Finance harassment
- Should you pay Atlantic Credit & Finance?
What is Atlantic Credit?
Atlantic Credit & Finance, Inc. (ACF) is a debt collection agency that was established in 1996. 1 They’re headquartered in Roanoke, VA, with another branch in St. Cloud, MN.
In 2014, ACF was bought by Encore Capital Group, Inc., a major publicly traded debt buying company. 2
Be careful not to confuse ACF with Atlantic Credit, Inc., which is a secondary lender specializing in automobile financing. Despite their very similar names, the two companies aren’t affiliated in any way, and only Atlantic Credit & Finance is a debt collector.
Who does Atlantic Credit & Finance collect for?
Atlantic Credit & Finance collects consumer debt, with a particular focus on high-interest credit card and loan debt. 2 They specialize in early-stage liquidation collections, so they usually go after debts that have recently been charged off (meaning the company that you originally owed money to only recently gave up on collecting the debt on their own).
ACF has many clients under the Encore Capital Group umbrella. Their clients include the following businesses:
- Credit unions
- Utilitary providers
Is Atlantic Credit & Finance a scam?
No, Atlantic Credit & Finance isn’t a scam. They’re a legitimate debt collection agency that has been registered with the state of Virginia since 1996. 3 They’ve also been certified by Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) since 2013. 4
What’s more, you should be vigilant about scammers posing as ACF representatives to collect money from you—debt collection scams like this are (unfortunately) fairly common. Be sure to verify any debts you’re contacted about before you make any payments. To do so, contact ACF directly with the contact information below.
VIDEO: Atlantic Credit & Finance in 2 Minutes—Fix Your Credit Report & Know Your Rights
How to stop Atlantic Credit & Finance from calling you
Atlantic Credit & Finance will call, email, or mail you if they believe you have an unsettled debt. The reason debt collectors like these are calling you is simple—they want to pressure you into paying up.
Unfortunately, Atlantic Credit & Finance representatives will keep trying to contact you unless you pay the debt, prove that it doesn’t belong to you, or reach an agreement with them (or with your original creditor).
Don’t ignore debt collectors like Atlantic Credit & Finance—in the end, you may get sued, and you may even have your wages garnished. It’s smarter to engage with them tactically to ensure you don’t have to pay, or that you get the best deal you can.
To begin, you can get Atlantic Credit & Finance to stop calling you—at least temporarily—by sending them something called a debt verification letter.
Send a debt verification letter
A debt verification letter is a formal request that obligates a debt collector to provide further evidence of a debt. You must send it within 30 days of them first contacting you. Note that Atlantic Credit & Finance should have sent you a debt validation letter proving you owe the debt first, as it’s required by law.
Benefits of sending a debt verification letter
Sending a debt verification letter has three benefits:
- You’ll prevent Atlantic Credit & Finance from calling you during this period: When you send a debt verification letter, third-party debt collection agencies like Atlantic Credit & Finance are required by law to stop contacting you until they can provide evidence that you actually owe the debt they’re trying to collect. 7
- You’ll get more information about the debt: You should never pay a debt that you don’t recognize. Forcing Atlantic Credit & Finance to provide documentation will help you determine whether this is a legitimate debt that you actually need to pay. It’s an easy way of figuring out if the debt collector is a scam agency.
- You may successfully disown the debt: If Atlantic Credit & Finance can’t provide more information about the debt (which is frequently the case), then they have no choice but to delete it from your records.
Beware the statute of limitations
The verification materials that you receive may show that your debt has passed the statute of limitations. This is a legal limit that means the debt is too old for Atlantic Credit & Finance to sue you over, at which point it’s known as time-barred debt.
If this is the case, you can send Atlantic Credit & Finance a letter telling them to stop contacting you. Legally, they’ll have to abide by that.
The statute of limitations on most debts is between 3 and 6 years, but the exact amount of time depends on several factors, including the state you live in. The best approach is to check your state attorney general’s website and email their office if the information you’re looking for isn’t available online.
How to remove Atlantic Credit & Finance from your credit report
If your credit score is suffering as a result of Atlantic Credit & Finance debt, there are three ways to recover:
1. Dispute the debt with all three credit bureaus
If you think that the debt associated with Atlantic Credit & Finance on your credit report is illegitimate (e.g., if you paid it on time or it belongs to somebody else), dispute the item on your credit report. You can also dispute debts that are older than 7 years (measured from the date of your first missed payment)—by law, they’re supposed to fall off your credit report by then.
To dispute a debt for free, send a credit dispute letter to the credit bureaus that are showing Atlantic Credit & Finance on your credit report.
To find out which credit bureaus you need to send the letter to, request your free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at AnnualCreditReport.com. If they don’t respond to your dispute within 30–45 days, then they’re legally obligated to remove the item in question.
2. Negotiate with Atlantic Credit & Finance
Unfortunately, if the debt is legitimate and it’s less than 7 years old, removing Atlantic Credit & Finance from your credit report will be very difficult (although not impossible).
Your best move at this point is to simply pay the debt. Newer credit scoring models ignore paid-off collection accounts, which means paying off your collection will boost your credit score even if you can’t remove the item.
However, when you pay, there are two negotiation strategies you can try as a last-ditch attempt to remove Atlantic Credit & Finance from your credit report:
- Pay for delete: You might be able to convince Atlantic Credit & Finance to remove the negative mark in exchange for paying off the debt. You can open these negotiations by sending them a pay-for-delete letter.
- Goodwill deletion: This is an alternate strategy you can try after paying your debt. Once the account is paid off, you can send Atlantic Credit & Finance a goodwill letter asking them to empathize with your situation and remove the mark from your credit report as an act of kindness. Create your letter using our free goodwill letter template.
3. Wait 7 years for Atlantic Credit & Finance to fall off of your credit report
Unfortunately, most collection accounts will stay on your credit report for 7 years after your first missed payment. Even if you pay off your debt to Atlantic Credit & Finance, it will remain on your credit report.
Learn more about Atlantic Credit & Finance’s impact on your credit score:
- How many points will my credit score increase after I pay off collections?
- How to rebuild your credit after having a debt sent to collections
How to deal with Atlantic Credit & Finance harassment
Unless you tell them not to, Atlantic Credit & Finance will keep contacting you until you pay off or settle your debt. However, there are restrictions on how they can go about doing this.
Restrictions on Atlantic Credit & Finance
When attempting to collect payments from you, Atlantic Credit & Finance must adhere to the regulations specified in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is a federal law that prevents debt collectors from engaging in harassment or predatory behavior, such as lying to you or calling you incessantly or at unreasonable hours.
Atlantic Credit & Finance representatives also need to follow the rules set out in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these laws so that you can take action against Atlantic Credit & Finance if they do something illegal.
Can I sue Atlantic Credit & Finance for harassment?
Yes, you can sue Atlantic Credit & Finance for harassment. If you can show that they’ve violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, then you can collect $1,000 in statutory damages for each violation as well as payment for any damages that you’ve sustained as a result of their violation. Atlantic Credit & Finance will also have to pay your attorney fees and court costs.
How to file a complaint against Atlantic Credit & Finance
If a debt collector violates your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or does something illegal, then you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or your state attorney general. From there, you’ll be able to find out whether you can also sue Atlantic Credit & Finance.
Another option is filing a complaint on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, but this might not have the outcome you’re hoping for. Bear in mind that the BBB is actually a private organization that has no affiliation with the US government. They’ll forward your complaint to Atlantic Credit & Finance, but there’s no guarantee that the agency will address it in a satisfactory manner. What’s more, if your dispute is sent to an arbitrator, then you may give up your right to take Atlantic Credit & Finance to court.
Should you pay Atlantic Credit & Finance?
You should only pay a collection agency like Atlantic Credit & Finance if you’re certain the debt is yours and you owe it. If you’re struggling financially and can’t afford to pay this debt collector, you can get help from a non-profit credit counselor.