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NRS, and collection agencies in general, are never fun to deal with. You can receive calls at work or on your cell phone, text messages and emails. But the impact on your credit score is far worse than these annoying behaviors.

If you want to remove NRS from your credit report, you need to deal with the problem by exercising your consumer rights and using your debt as leverage. This article will guide you through the process.

What is NRS?

Some debt collection agencies specialize in a specific sector, but NRS works across a variety of industries. If you owe money to a cable, Internet or cell phone provider, you may hear from NRS. If you have past-due balances for utilities at your last apartment or still owe money on a personal loan, NRS can call you. Some hospitals and medical clinics hire NRS to help them recover old medical bills.

NRS has its corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia (near Atlanta), a large operations center in Cleveland, Tennessee and call centers across the U.S. It may show up on your caller ID or credit report as Nationwide Recovery Systems, Ltd. NRS will appear on your credit report as a collection account if the original creditor hires it to recover payments from you, and a debt can show up twice in your credit history if the original creditor and NRS both report it.

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Steps to remove NRS from your credit report

It’s possible to erase negative entries from a credit report. Follow these steps to remove NRS from yours for good:

  • Know your rights
  • Validate the debt
  • Negotiate a settlement
  • Work with a professional

1. Know your rights

Debt collectors will often assume you’re unaware of your consumer rights and prefer it to stay that way. They don’t want you to know federal law protects you from abuse. When you receive a phone call from NRS, the collections agent has one goal: to convince you to give them your credit card number for a full payment of the debt.

Legitimate debt collection agencies, such as NRS, won't usually break the law blatantly, but they also know you're more likely to make a payment if you're afraid. You’re more likely to feel intimidated if you don’t know your rights, so it’s important you’re aware that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) exists to prevent abuse and intimidation. Knowing this can help you take control of the debt collection process.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors can’t:

  • Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Continue to call you after you ask them to stop
  • Use certain contact information after you ask them to stop using it
  • Harass you or anyone else in regard to the debt
  • Use abusive, aggressive or profane language
  • Contact you at your place of work
  • Threaten legal action that they can’t or won’t take
  • Misrepresent themselves when contacting you
  • Misrepresent information regarding the debt
  • Ignore a request for debt validation

Understanding your rights under FDCPA will help you deal with NRS successfully. By arming yourself with knowledge, you'll communicate with confidence.

2. Validate the debt

If a company calls you and starts demanding money, you need to know if they’re a scam or a legitimate debt collector. It’s also possible that you paid the debt before it went to collections or that the debt was never yours to begin with. Debt collectors deal with a lot of accounts from many companies, and mistakes and miscommunications happen. That's why the FDCPA requires collection agencies to validate your debt.

It’s important to verify that the debt belongs to you. It's the agency’s job to prove you owe the money if you ask for validation. If the agency can't provide the necessary documentation, it must remove the negative entry from your credit history and stop contacting you.

This strategy only works if you send a validation letter within 30 days of first hearing from NRS. After that period, NRS can assume you accept the debt is valid, and legally, the agency won’t have to respond to your request.

How to send a debt validation letter

To write a debt validation letter, consider using a template to help you. Make sure you ask the agency to confirm all the important details, including the name, the account number and the Social Security number on the account.

When you send the letter, make sure you request a return receipt, so you’ll get confirmation when NRS receives it. You can file a complaint if the agency ignores you. Remember to send the letter within 30 days of the agency’s first contact with you, or it won’t have to respond to your request.

NRS should provide you with documentation that proves the debt belongs to you. If it’s unable to do this, you’re no longer legally responsible for the debt. NRS must contact the three major credit bureaus and have them remove the account from your credit report. If it doesn’t, file a dispute with the credit bureaus.

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3. Negotiate a settlement

If NRS does validate your debt, you'll need another plan, such as negotiating a pay-for-delete settlement. A pay-for-delete settlement is when you offer to pay a portion of the debt if NRS agrees to remove the collection entry from your credit report.

Debt collectors will often settle for less than the full amount, but they’ll never tell you this. Start by offering to pay half of the balance in exchange for deletion. When you reach an agreement, get it in writing before making your first payment.

Check your credit report 30 days after you make your payment to see if NRS still appears on your report. If it does, contact the agency and remind it of your agreement; you can send a copy of it if necessary. You can also file a dispute with the credit agencies or complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

4. Work with a professional

If you’re too busy to research your rights, send validation letters, negotiate with collection agents and follow up with the three major credit bureaus, consider outsourcing this process to a credit repair company. Professional credit repair companies specialize in removing negative accounts from your credit report. They'll use the same strategies as above, but they'll work faster and more efficiently because they know the law.

Companies, such as Credit Saint, have helpful, friendly advisors who’ll work hard on your case. Their goal is to clean up your credit report so you can reach your financial goals without a bad credit report dragging you down. Credit repair companies will analyze your report and identify the accounts that are causing your score to drop. They’ll communicate with the debt collectors, ensure the removal of negative items from your credit report and follow up with the credit reporting bureaus.

A credit repair company will charge you a monthly fee plus an initial set-up or consultation fee to do this work on your behalf. Credit Saint even provides a money-back guarantee.

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FAQ about NRS

The following are a list of common questions regarding NRS and the debt collection process:

Will paying off the debt help my credit score?

No, paying off the debt won’t help your credit score. The negative item will simply show as paid instead of active on your credit report. Future lenders and financial services providers will still see that you had a bad debt that moved to collections, and they’ll consider this when determining any loan and service requests.

Once a collection account appears on your credit report, it’ll damage your score for up to seven years unless you remove it. Removing the entry from your credit report is the only way to reduce its impact on your credit score.

How did NRS get my contact information?

Some consumers get upset when a collection agency, such as NRS, starts contacting them via their personal or cell phone number or email address. They might wonder how the agency got their personal information. Usually, they get this information from the original creditor, which the FDCPA allows.

Will NRS sue me if I don't pay?

Yes, NRS can sue you in civil court for financial damages. Unless the debt is exceptionally large, which is possible with medical bills, NRS is unlikely to serve you with a lawsuit, but it does have the legal right to do so.

A collection agency is more likely to try and scare you with the threat of a lawsuit, even though the FDCPA prohibits any kind of fear tactics. You should also know that according to U.S. law, NRS can’t arrest you or bring criminal charges against you. Threatening you with imprisonment or the loss of your rights is a violation of the law, and you should report this behavior to the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission.

How do I contact NRS?

You can contact the company's corporate headquarters at:

Address: 5655 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
Phone number: 800-776-4600

Remember, it's advisable to communicate with NRS in writing only.

Dealing with NRS

Nobody likes hearing from a debt collection agency, and based on customer complaints, NRS has a particularly bad reputation. NRS has had about 60 complaints in the last three years with the Better Business Bureau. Most complaints pertain to FDCPA violations, inaccurate reporting and failure to respond to debt validation requests.

The FDCPA gives you the right to choose which phone number a debt collection agency calls you on, what time they call you, and if you want to request all communication in writing. You need to exercise your rights to protect yourself from credit reporting errors, harassing phone calls and the negative effects of an NRS collection account on your credit file.

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Update: This article has been updated to reflect the current number of BBB complaints against NRS. Unverifiable information has been removed.

Disclaimer: This story was originally published on July 13, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. To find the most relevant information concerning collections or credit card inquiries, please visit: https://money.com/how-to-remove-collections-from-credit-report/ or https://money.com/get-items-removed-from-credit-report/