If your finances haven’t been in order, it may not come as a surprise that you’ve been contacted by a debt collection company like Autovest LLC. However, even if you owe the debt (which may be in error!), you have rights under federal law that you should take advantage of before you pay up.
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What is Autovest LLC?
Founded in 2003, Autovest LLC is a private investment company that purchases auto loan debt. 1
Autovest LLC doesn’t collect on debts themselves—rather, they have their accounts serviced by another debt collection agency called Michael Andrews & Associates LLC. 2
What is Autovest Financial Services LLC?
Autovest LLC is short for Autovest Financial Services LLC, and debt items may appear under either name on your credit report.
Who does Autovest LLC collect for?
Autovest LLC purchases auto loan debt from Fortune 500 banks and auto loan financing companies. 1 While they don’t publicly list their clients, they purchased a large loan portfolio from Wells Fargo in 2011. 3
More recent court records show that they also purchased debt from MarkOne Financial. 4
Is Autovest LLC a scam?
No, Autovest LLC isn’t a scam. They’re a legitimate debt buyer that’s been certified by the Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) since 2015. 5
However, even though Autovest is a real company, scammers might pose as them. If someone from Autovest LLC contacts you, make sure to verify that your debts are real (and that they belong to you and not to somebody else) before agreeing to pay anything.
Because Michael Andrews & Associates handles Autovest LLC’s accounts, you’ll need to contact them via their listed phone number at (800) 420-3657 or by using the Contact Us form on their website to determine what debts you owe.
Autovest LLC may still behave unethically
Even though Autovest LLC isn’t a scam, it’s possible they’ll still do something that violates your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Your rights (and how you can enforce them) are outlined further down in this article.
VIDEO: Autovest LLC in 2 Minutes—Fix Your Credit Report & Know Your Rights
Why is Autovest LLC calling me?
Autovest LLC will call you if you have unsettled debt (or they think you do). Because they collect outstanding auto loan debt, you might hear from them after defaulting on a car loan and having your lender reclaim your vehicle in a repossession.
If your car is repossessed, do you still owe money?
In some cases, a repossession will completely clear your debts. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
If your lender repossesses and sells your vehicle, the amount they get from the sale might not be enough to cover the remaining balance on your auto loan or additional fees that they incurred from the repossession (such as towing and storage fees). The amount that’s left over is referred to as the deficiency balance.
If you don’t pay this balance, your lender might charge off the debt and sell or transfer it to a collection agency. If your car was repossessed and Autovest LLC is still contacting you, this is probably what happened.
Autovest LLC might contact you about auto loan debt even if your vehicle wasn’t repossessed
It’s also possible that your debt was charged off without a repossession if your auto loan is unsecured, although unsecured auto loans are rare. Auto loans are usually secured loans, with your vehicle serving as collateral.
What to do when Autovest LLC contacts you
When Autovest LLC first approaches you, you should ask them to send a written notice detailing the debt they’re collecting, known as a debt validation letter, if they haven’t already.
In accordance with the FDCPA, all debt collectors are required to send this letter within 5 days of first contacting you. 6 It must contain the following information:
- The amount you owe
- Your name
- A statement informing you of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days of receiving their letter
- A statement informing you that if you dispute the debt in writing, they must mail you evidence of the debt within the 30 days
- A statement informing you that within 30 days after you’ve received the letter, you can send them a written request to provide the name and address of the original creditor
Autovest LLC representatives will keep trying to contact you unless you either pay the debt or reach an agreement with them (or with your original lender).
However, there are restrictions on how they can go about contacting you.
Restrictions on Autovest LLC
The FDCPA makes it illegal for debt collectors to do any of the following: 6
- Call you multiple times per day
- Call you at night (before 8 am or after 9 pm, your time)
- Call you at work if you tell them you can’t receive calls at work
- Make automated calls or send pre-recorded messages telling you to make payments
- Contact any third party, including your family, friends, or coworkers, to discuss your debt
- Intimidate you or threaten to harm you, sue you, arrest you, or damage your credit
- Lie about your debt and try to collect more than you owe
- Accuse you of breaking the law or claim that not paying might result in jail time (you can’t go to jail over unpaid debt, unless you owe money to the IRS because you intentionally committed tax fraud)
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your rights by reading the FDCPA and Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Can I sue Autovest LLC for harassment?
Yes, you can sue Autovest LLC for harassment. If you can show that the debt collection company has violated your rights under the FDCPA, 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. 6 Autovest LLC will also be required to pay your attorney fees and court costs.
How to file a complaint against Autovest LLC
If Autovest LLC has violated your rights under the FDCPA or done 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 Autovest LLC.
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 Autovest LLC, 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 Autovest LLC to court.
How to get Autovest LLC off your credit report
If your credit score is suffering as a result of Autovest LLC debt, then don’t worry. You can get their collection accounts off your credit report by following these steps:
- Tell Autovest LLC to stop calling you
- Send a debt verification letter
- Send a credit dispute letter
- Request a goodwill deletion
- Negotiate for “pay for delete”
- Negotiate a debt settlement
- Get help from a credit expert
Everyone should follow the first two steps. The ones after that are situational, and you should follow the ones that are appropriate for your circumstances.
Before you do anything else: Ask Autovest LLC to stop calling you
It’s important to keep a paper trail of all your communications with Autovest LLC, so make sure to only communicate with them in writing. If you ask them to stop calling you and only communicate via letter or email, then they’re legally obligated to do so. 6 This should be your first step.
Make sure to date your letters and send them by certified mail. If you’re not sure where to start, then check out the sample letters provided by the CFPB.
Next: Send a debt verification letter
Sending a debt verification letter asking the collection agency to provide evidence of your debt is one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting rid of a debt item in your credit history.
When you send a debt verification letter, third-party collectors like Autovest LLC are required by law to show evidence that you have an outstanding debt. If they can’t do that, then they have no choice but to delete it from your records. 7
Once Autovest LLC receives your debt verification letter, they’re also required by law to stop contacting you about your debt until they’ve sent you evidence that you actually owe it. 6
A lot of the time, debt collection agencies don’t have adequate evidence, whether you owe the listed amount or not. If Autovest LLC isn’t able to verify your debt (or if you discover that the debt is more than a few years old), then proceed to the next step.
On the other hand, if it turns out that your debt is both legitimate and recent, then proceed to one of the steps after that, depending on your circumstances.
If the debt is old or invalid: Send a credit dispute letter to the three credit bureaus
You can write a credit dispute letter to Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion to delete the collection account from your credit report if the debt is an error or it’s past its statute of limitations (meaning that debt collectors can no longer make you pay the debt by suing you).
When you dispute the item on your credit report, make sure to send along any supporting documentation that you have on hand. Credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to your dispute. If they don’t, then they’re legally obligated to remove the debt item. 7
If your debt has passed the statute of limitations (or it was never valid to begin with), then you can also send Autovest LLC a letter telling them to stop contacting you. This doesn’t affect the status of your debt, so it’s not a good idea if your debt is still current since it means you won’t get any warning if Autovest LLC decides to sue you.
How to tell if your debt is past the statute of limitations
The statute of limitations on most debts is between 3 and 6 years, but this 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.
If you’ve already paid the debt: Request a goodwill deletion
If you have a negative mark on your credit report for a debt you paid late, then it’s possible you can get that mark removed by asking for something called a goodwill deletion or goodwill adjustment. To do this, send a goodwill letter to Autovest LLC explaining the circumstances that led to your delinquency.
This approach might work if your missed payments were caused by something outside your control like an unexpected layoff or expensive medical bills. This is usually only an option if you’ve already paid the debt in full.
You’ll want to include any supporting evidence or documentation you have, including:
- An explanation for why you stopped making payments on your car loan
- Records demonstrating that you usually pay your other debts on time
- Examples of how the negative mark is affecting your life, such as making it difficult for you to take out a mortgage
You can also call your lender or debt collector on the phone, although there’s a chance that the person you end up speaking to won’t have the authority to make changes to your records.
It’s important to bear in mind that sending a goodwill letter is a long shot, and the company you speak to is under no obligation to change your report. However, it doesn’t cost you anything, so there’s no reason not to try.
If the debt is recent and unpaid: Negotiate “pay for delete”
If you still owe the debt and it’s too soon to get it removed from your credit report, you’ll probably have to pay it. However, you might be able to convince Autovest LLC to remove their record of your debt after you’ve paid it by sending a pay-for-delete request.
A pay-for-delete request is different from a goodwill letter because it applies to debts that you haven’t yet paid off. It’s a negotiation where you agree to pay off your debt, and in return, Autovest LLC promises to remove the negative mark on your credit report that’s associated with it.
The first step is to use a pay-for-delete letter template to draft your letter and send it to Autovest LLC (or your lender if they still own the debt). It’s very important to get written confirmation that they’ll remove the collection from your credit report once you’re all paid up.
Once you’ve received written confirmation from Autovest LLC and paid your debt, you should monitor your credit reports to make sure that they follow through. If the collection account is still on your credit report in a couple of months, then follow up with them and use the letter they sent you to remind them of their obligation.
If the debt is old and unpaid: Negotiate for a debt settlement
If your debt is already fairly old, then there’s a chance that Autovest LLC will accept less than the full amount you owe (a practice known as debt settlement) in order to minimize their losses. The reason for this is simple: they know that older debts are harder to collect payments for.
According to a report published in 2021 by the Congressional Research Service, “In general, debt collectors expect to collect only a fraction of the face value of any particular debt, knowing that some consumers will never pay back their debts in full.” 8 If Autovest LLC owns your debt, then they almost certainly paid only a small fraction of what you originally owed, meaning that they’ll make a profit even with a debt settlement.
Before negotiating, you should carefully review your financial situation and come up with a realistic amount to offer. If you want, you can negotiate through a debt settlement agency, but be wary of scammers and avoid companies that charge you large amounts upfront.
Alternatively, you can just speak to someone from Autovest LLC over the phone. However, you should make sure to get the agreement in writing before you make any payments.
Bear in mind that debt settlements still hurt your credit score, and like most other negative marks, they’ll remain on your credit report for up to seven years. 9 With that said, lenders will probably look more favorably on a settled debt than a debt in collection.
If you feel overwhelmed: Get help from a credit repair company
If you feel like you might be in over your head, then seek professional assistance from a credit repair expert to remove Autovest LLC collection items from your credit report. This can save you time and help you avoid the frustration of trying to remove their negative marks on your own.