Table of Contents
What is L J Ross Associates?
L J Ross Associates, Inc. is a debt collection agency that was founded in 1992. They collect debts on behalf of government agencies and companies in various industries.
- Early and late-stage collections
- Pre-collection services
- Final bill services
- First- and third-party collection services
- Warehouse monitoring
- Insurance follow-up
- Office services
Who does L J Ross Associates collect for?
L J Ross Associates collects debts on behalf of the following companies and institutions:
- Colleges, universities, and school districts
- Utility providers
- Federal, state, and local government agencies
- Financial institutions
- Physician practice groups
Specifically, here are some of the debts that L J Ross Associates collects:
- Utility bills
- Student loans
- Bookstore and university library fees
- College and university health service accounts
- Other education-related debts, like overdue on-campus housing fees and parking fines
- Jail fines
- Municipal debts
- Returned checks
- Medical bills
The United States General Services Administration has also contracted with L J Ross Associates to collect government debts since 2012. 3
Is L J Ross Associates a scam?
No, L J Ross Associates isn’t a scam. They’re a legitimate debt collection agency with accreditation by the Better Business Bureau. 4 However, this doesn’t mean that they’ll always behave ethically.
What’s more, scammers may impersonate L J Ross Associates when contacting you. For this reason, it’s important to verify what debts you owe before you make any payments. To do so, contact L J Ross Associates directly using either their online form or the contact information below.
L J Ross Associates may still behave unethically
Even though L J Ross Associates 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: L J Ross Associates in 2 Minutes—Fix Your Credit Report & Know Your Rights
Why is L J Ross Associates calling me?
L J Ross Associates will call, email, or mail you if you have unsettled debt (or they think you do).
Because L J Ross Associates deals with student loan collections, this might mean you’ve defaulted on your student loan payments. If that sounds like a possibility, you should make sure you understand how student loans differ from other types of debts before you decide on your next move.
Characteristics of student loan debt
Student loans are somewhat infamous. They’re many people’s first introduction to the world of debt and credit (since student loans impact your credit scores), and they have a reputation for being harder to get rid of and easier for debt collection agencies to collect than other kinds of debt, such as personal loans and auto loans.
It is true that special regulations govern the collection of student loan debt. For instance, many student loans have no statute of limitations (meaning they never expire and become time-barred debt). Moreover, debt collectors often have the power to garnish your wages or otherwise compel you to pay overdue student loans without taking you to court, which isn’t possible for other types of debt. 5
While that sounds intimidating, most of those special regulations only apply to federal student loans (i.e., loans issued by the US Department of Education). L J Ross Associates collects private student loans, which means that they have to follow essentially the same rules as they would if they were collecting on other loans or credit accounts.
However, private student loans do differ from other loans in one very important aspect: they can be difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. We’ll explain this in more detail near the end of this article.
What to do when L J Ross Associates contacts you about your debt
It’s best that you don’t ignore your debt collectors, as tempting as it may be. When L J Ross Associates calls you, 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
L J Ross Associates representatives will keep trying to contact you unless you either pay your collections or reach an agreement with them or your loan provider.
However, there are several restrictions on how L J Ross Associates can go about contacting you.
Restrictions on L J Ross Associates
- 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 L J Ross Associates for harassment?
Yes, you can sue L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates will also be required to pay your attorney fees and court costs.
How to file a complaint against L J Ross Associates
If L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates.
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 L J Ross Associates, 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 L J Ross Associates to court.
How to get L J Ross Associates off your credit report
If your credit score is suffering as a result of L J Ross Associates debt, then don’t worry. You can get their collection accounts off your credit report by following these steps:
- Tell L J Ross Associates to stop calling you
- Send a debt verification letter
- Explore your repayment options
- Send a credit dispute letter
- Request a goodwill deletion
- Negotiate for “pay for delete” or a debt settlement
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 L J Ross Associates to stop calling you
It’s important to keep a paper trail of all your communications with L J Ross Associates, 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. It’s also an easy way of figuring out if the debt collector is a scam agency.
When you send a debt verification letter, third-party collectors like L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates 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 you believe your debt went into default by mistake. It’s a good idea to also send a letter to L J Ross Associates and your original loan provider so that all parties have complete information when investigating the matter.
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 you’ve already paid the debt: Request a goodwill deletion
If your outstanding debts were sent to L J Ross Associates but you later paid them off, you may be able to get the collection account removed from your credit report by asking for something called a goodwill deletion or goodwill adjustment. To do this, send a goodwill letter to L J Ross Associates explaining the circumstances that led to your delinquency.
This is usually only an option if you’ve already paid the debt in full, and it’s more likely to work if your missed payments were caused by something outside your control like an unexpected layoff or expensive medical bills.
You’ll want to include any supporting evidence or documentation you have, including:
- An explanation for why your payments were late
- 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 L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates is under no obligation to change your report. However, it doesn’t cost you anything, so there’s no reason not to try.
If you haven’t paid the debt: Negotiate “pay for delete” or a debt settlement
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, with pay for delete or a debt settlement, you might be able to convince L J Ross Associates to settle for less than the amount you owe or remove their record of your debt after you’ve paid it.
If you have private student loan debt, you should know that these approaches probably won’t work—it’s harder to negotiate when you have this type of debt, as compared with other types like credit card debt. This is especially true when your outstanding debts are very large. That said, there’s still no harm in trying.
Pay for delete
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 an exchange where you agree to pay off your debt, and in return, L J Ross Associates 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 L J Ross Associates. 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 L J Ross Associates 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 you’ve defaulted on your debts more than once or you owe a very large amount, then there’s a chance that L J Ross Associates will accept less than the full amount you owe (a practice known as 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 L J Ross Associates 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. 8 With that said, lenders will probably look more favorably on a settled debt than a debt in collection.
If you can’t pay your debt to L J Ross Associates, can you declare bankruptcy?
Ordinarily, if you become overwhelmed by debts that you have no prospect of paying off, you can declare bankruptcy and “discharge” them (get rid of them without paying them off).
If L J Ross Associates is trying to collect debts other than student loans, you may be able to get out of paying them this way, although it isn’t something you should do lightly. Bankruptcy severely damages your credit score and remains on your credit report for 7 to 10 years, so it’s a last-resort option.
Moreover, if L J Ross Associates is trying to collect a private student loan debt, this method might not be available to you. As mentioned, student loans can be very hard to discharge through bankruptcy.
How bankruptcy and student loans work
Bankruptcy is regulated by the US Bankruptcy Code of 1978, which applies stricter standards to student loans than other types of debts. In general, it’s only possible to discharge student loans if you can prove that paying them would constitute an “undue hardship”—in other words, that paying them would make it impossible for you to afford basic necessities and maintain a minimally acceptable standard of living. 9
Debtors have challenged this in court several times. Recent rulings have held that, while all federal student loans are subject to the restrictions in the US Bankruptcy Code, not all private loans are (although some are). 10
The upshot is that it can be hard to tell whether it will be possible to discharge private student loans through bankruptcy or not.
If you’re considering declaring bankruptcy to stop L J Ross Associates from collecting your private student loan debt, speak with a student loan or bankruptcy attorney first. Bankruptcy is an extreme step, and you want to make sure it will actually solve your problem before you commit.
If you feel overwhelmed, consider getting 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 L J Ross Associates 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.