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What is Cross America Financial (CAF) and why are they calling me?
Cross America Financial (CAF) is a debt collection agency—a company that collects severely overdue debts that consumers owe to other businesses. Debt collectors often collect for companies such as:
- Credit card issuers
- Healthcare providers (if they perform medical bill collections)
- Universities (if they perform student loan collections)
- Utility companies
- Telecom/phone companies
If CAF is calling you, they probably think you have an unpaid debt. There’s only one reason for a debt collector to contact you—they want to pressure you into paying up.
Unfortunately, CAF 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). We’ll go over your options below.
Is CAF a scam?
CAF probably isn’t a scam, but be careful—scammers often pose as real debt collectors. If someone calls you claiming to be a representative of CAF, don’t pay them any money right away. You can tell whether you’re talking to a legitimate debt collector by contacting CAF with the information above.
Note that CAF should have sent you a debt validation letter proving that you owe the debt when they first contacted you, as it’s required by law. If they didn’t, it’s a significant red flag.
Moreover, even if CAF is legit, they might still behave unethically. Many debt collectors use very aggressive tactics to pursue debts. If CAF is calling you, it’s important to know your rights, which we’ll go over below.
VIDEO: CAF in 2 Minutes—Fix Your Credit Report & Know Your Rights
Can I stop CAF from calling me?
You can get CAF to stop calling you—at least temporarily—by sending them something called a debt verification letter, which 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.
If your debt is very old, there might also be a more permanent solution to get CAF to leave you alone. If your debt has passed its statute of limitations and become time-barred debt, meaning you can’t be sued over it, you can simply write a letter telling CAF to never contact you again. Legally, they’ll have to abide by your request.
However, if your debt is more recent, this isn’t a good idea, as it could cause CAF to resort to a lawsuit that they otherwise wouldn’t have filed, and if they win, the collection agency might earn the right to garnish your wages.
Whatever you do, fight the temptation to simply ignore debt collectors like CAF. If they don’t hear from you at all, they’re more likely to escalate things. 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.
Is CAF hurting my credit score?
Yes, CAF is very likely hurting your credit score. Debts in collection cause marks called “collection accounts” to appear on your credit reports, which the credit scoring companies (FICO and VantageScore) use to create your scores.
Every credit scoring algorithm severely penalizes people for having unpaid collections on their reports, and in several of the most popular models (primarily FICO Score 8), collections continue to damage your score even after you fully pay them off.
Can I remove CAF from my credit report?
It’s possible (although not guaranteed) that you’ll be able to remove CAF from your credit report. Your odds depend on whether the debt is legitimate or a mistake.
If the debt is a mistake: If CAF is trying to collect an illegitimate debt (e.g., one that you actually paid on time or that belongs to someone else entirely), your chances of getting it removed from your credit report are pretty good. The same goes if the debt is more than 7 years old (measured from the date of your first missed payment), at which point it’s supposed to automatically fall off your report.
If the debt is legitimate: Unfortunately, if the debt is real and it’s less than 7 years old, removing CAF from your credit report will be very difficult.
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 CAF from your credit report:
- Pay for delete: You might be able to convince CAF to remove the derogatory 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 CAF 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.
If all else fails, remember that collection accounts only stay on your credit report for 7 years. Like all negative marks, CAF will fall off your credit eventually.
What are my rights when dealing with CAF?
When attempting to collect payments from you, CAF 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.
CAF 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 CAF if they do something illegal.
Can I sue CAF for harassment?
Yes, you can sue CAF 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. CAF will also have to pay your attorney fees and court costs.
Should I pay CAF?
You should only pay a collection agency like CAF 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.