If Commonwealth Financial Systems, Inc. (CFS) has contacted you about an unpaid bill, whether by phone or collection letter, chances are high that the unpaid debt could be affecting your credit.
If so, you may be wondering how to remove them from your credit report. When you owe money to a debt collection agency like CFS, it can disrupt your financial plans and add stress to your daily life.
The advice below will help you stop collection calls, resolve your account and improve your credit score.
Table of contents:
- What is Commonwealth Financial Systems?
- 4 ways to remove Commonwealth Financial Systems from your credit report
- Dealing with Commonwealth Financial Systems
- FAQs about Commonwealth Financial Systems
What is Commonwealth Financial Systems?
Created in 2001, CFS is a third-party debt collection agency based in Pennsylvania. While you might think it’s a scam due to persistent collection methods, the company is legitimate.
CFS is considered a medium-sized collection company by industry standards. It operates as an accounts receivable management business, which includes debt purchasing, credit bureau reporting, third-party debt collection and first-party outsourcing. CFS collects many types of consumer debts, such as medical bills or debt, retail balances and financial account debts, such as credit cards and student loans.
You might also see CFS on your credit report under the following names:
- CFSI collections
- Commonwealth collections
- Comnwlth fin
- Commonwealth finance
- Commonwealth financial
How does CFS work?
Debt collection agencies buy debts (accounts that have gone unpaid) at low costs from financial providers across several industries. If you notice CFS on your credit report as a collections account, it’s likely for an overdue bill.
CFS is a late-stage, or junk, debt collector, which means they purchase debts from other collection agencies. Once the agency has bought a debt from a company, its representatives have the right to pursue debt payments by calling and writing to you, the debtor, frequently. And, when your credit report lists a collection debt, the negative entry can damage your score for up to seven years.
Commonwealth Financial Systems contact information
You can reach an agency representative at the contact information listed below:
Commonwealth Financial Systems, Inc.
245 Main St.
Dickson City, PA 18519-1641
Phone Number: 800-848-2170
4 ways to remove Commonwealth Financial Systems from your credit report
As tempting as it may be to ignore CFS’ phone calls, overdue bills in collections can be devastating to your credit score. Whether you owe money or CFS has invalid or incorrect information about a debt, it’s important to communicate with the collection agency. Here are four simple ways you can resolve an issue with CFS:
- Verify the debt
- Negotiate a payment plan or settlement
- Dispute the debt
- Seek professional help
1. Verify the debt
Mistakes by debt collectors are common and information often gets lost or mixed up during the process of moving from the original creditor to the collector. That's why it's crucial to verify the debt as yours before making any payments. Do this by sending a debt validation letter to the debt collector within 30 days of their first contact.
In the letter, ask the collector to verify specific details such as the name, dates of account activity, total debt and any other information associated with the debt. It's essential to confirm the date of the debt since each state has a statute of limitations within which collectors can legally pursue the debt. If the collector fails to pursue the debt within this time, you are not obligated to repay it.
When writing the letter, be sure to request a return receipt to prove the collector received it. This evidence can be valuable if they ignore your request for validation.
2. Negotiate a payment plan or settlement
If you missed the 30-day debt validation window or CFS validated your debt, you can still save money by negotiating with CFS and asking them to remove the collections account from your credit report. Collections agencies will often agree to a reduced payment. A good place to start your negotiations is about 50% of the total amount you owe.
As always, put all your negotiations in writing, using letters (or email) to communicate with CFS representatives. If you negotiate over the phone, it’s more difficult to prove you had an agreement and have CFS removed from your credit report.
If your debt was valid, simply paying it off will not necessarily improve your credit. You may also need to request that the company stop reporting your collections account to the credit bureaus to have it removed from your credit report. Debt collectors are not required to do this (unless it has been seven years since your bill went unpaid), so you can use your debt payments as leverage to get them to agree to help you improve your credit score.
Once you’ve agreed on a settlement and made your payment to the agency, make sure that your credit report reflects these changes. If the collections account is still present, it can continue to harm your credit score for several years. Follow up with the agency immediately if they haven’t removed the negative entry from your credit history.
3. Dispute the debt
You could dispute your debt, in which case, CFS would remove itself from your credit report. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act grants you the right to request validation of the debt you allegedly owe to your lenders, such as credit card companies. If the collection agency can’t provide adequate evidence of your debt, they must remove the account from your credit report. This strategy can work even if the debt exists. Since debt collectors purchase second-hand debt from service providers or other collection agencies, they might not have the documentation they need to support their claim.
To remove an out-dated, incorrect or invalid debt from your credit, get a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and review it carefully. Make a note of any errors, including incorrect account information or debt amounts. Gather supporting documentation and send a debt dispute letter to the credit reporting agency. The credit reporting agency must investigate and respond to you, usually in 30 days.
If the credit reporting agency doesn’t remove the disputed debt, follow up with additional letters or escalate the dispute to a higher authority. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you believe the credit reporting agency is not responding appropriately.
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra previously told Money that the federal government agency often reaches out to companies on behalf of the consumer to get them to resolve the issue.
By staying persistent, you may successfully dispute a debt and ensure that your credit report accurately reflects your financial history.
4. Seek professional help
While you may succeed at removing CFS from your credit report on your own, it can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. Credit repair agencies are experts at disputing debts and removing collection accounts from consumers’ credit reports, and they may be able to get the debt removed more quickly than you could on your own..If the debt is valid, however, the collections account may linger on your credit report even if you pay an agency to help. If you’re unsure of your next steps, consider getting free advice or counseling from a non-profit organization like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or Financial Counseling Association of America.
Dealing with CFS
People encounter issues with CFS that stem from inaccurate reporting and failure to respond to debt validation requests.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating for CFS is an F, and the company is not BBB accredited. People have lodged more than 300 complaints against the company in the last three years through the BBB, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that people have filed complaints against CFS nearly 4,000 times. Most complaints allege that the company violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that regulates how and when debt collection agencies can contact you.
While debt collectors may be persistent in their collection attempts, they must follow specific guidelines under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These federal laws prohibit abuse by debt collectors, including calling after hours, being verbally inappropriate or harassing you at work.
It’s important to be aware of your consumer rights to avoid being taken advantage of by debt collection companies. Research your state’s statute of limitations on debt to ensure the debt CFS is trying to collect is within those limits. If you feel that CFS is harassing you, look for legal advice.
When you deal with a debt collector, always communicate through letters or email. By writing everything down, you have the documentation you need to challenge the debt or hold the agency to a repayment agreement.
FAQs about Commonwealth Financial Systems
Is Commonwealth Financial Systems legit?
What are the reasons people complain about Commonwealth Financial Systems?
What types of debt does Commonwealth Financial Systems collect?
Disclaimer: This story was originally published on July 2, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. It has been updated to reflect more recent consumer complaints and information about dealing with CFS. To find the most relevant information concerning collections or credit card inquiries, read Money’s guide to Removing Negative Information from Credit Report.