If Works & Lentz, Inc. (W&L) calls you, you may wonder if the company is a genuine debt collector or a scam. W&L is completely legitimate, and it won’t stop calling unless you pay the debt or take some other action to manage it. This article explores your best options for dealing with W&L.
Founded in 2001, W&L is a third-party debt collector with headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and an office in Oklahoma City. It has a staff of over 60 employees.
Very few people enjoy dealing with debt collectors, and W&L is no different. In addition to receiving a considerable number of complaints over its two decades of debt collection, W&L currently has about 25 complaints on file with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and two complaints with the Better Business Bureau. There are also reports of civil litigation cases involving W&L.
Consumer complaints report incidents of W&L ignoring the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which protects consumers from harassment, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which stops creditors from making inaccurate credit reports.
Specifically, Works & Lentz has been accused of failing to validate debts, calling multiple times a day and reporting inaccurate information to credit bureaus. If W&L violates the FDCPA when interacting with you, consider filing a complaint with the CFPB.
Why is W&L on my credit report?
Before it can pursue you for an outstanding debt, W&L must open a collection account, which will appear on your credit reports with the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This entry damages your credit score and can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
When it first appears, a collection account can knock up to 100 points off the credit score of a consumer with excellent credit. A lower credit score means you’ll have fewer options if you need a car loan, credit card or mortgage. In most states, your credit history can even impact car insurance rates.
The primary objective for many consumers dealing with a debt collection company such as W&L is to repair their credit score. Getting rid of a W&L entry can help you get your credit score back on track, especially if it’s the only negative item in your history.
Fortunately, there are tried-and-true ways to accomplish this that don’t involve logging in to the W&L portal and paying the debt. In fact, paying the debt may reduce your chances of getting this company off your credit report.
How to get W&L off your credit report
If you want to remove a collection from your credit report, you can follow these steps:
1. Request written communication
Regardless of what a debt collector says on the phone, you need to get your agreements in writing, especially if you plan to make a payment via W&L’s online payment portal. The key motivation for a collection agency is profit, which it makes when you pay an old debt. Agents are often amiable when you make a payment agreement over the phone, but then they may forget the deal after you do so. That’s why it’s important to request that W&L communicate with you only in writing.
The FDCPA gives you the right to ask for communication strictly via U.S. Mail. This helps you hold a debt collector accountable for any agreements it makes and puts a stop to the annoying phone calls. Keep a documented copy of all conversations for future reference.
How to request contact by mail
Next time you receive a call from W&L, simply request that all future communication is through registered U.S. Mail. If the agent pushes back, tell them that they are in violation of the FDCPA and that you plan to file a complaint with the CFPB.
2. Send a debt validation letter
This strategy can result in the removal of debt with minimal effort. You’ll need to write a letter to W&L asking it to verify the details relating to your debt. You can contact W&L at:
1437 S. Boulder
Tulsa, OK 74119
Phone number: 918-582-3191
3030 N.W. Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Phone number: 405-942-2211
Debt validation, also known as debt verification, is another consumer right that you have under the FDCPA. It allows you to review the information W&L has to ensure you are making payments on a debt that is valid and — most importantly — actually yours.
In the past, creditors held consumers responsible for inaccurate negative items and lowered credit scores without justification. Many consumers don’t request debt verification because they know the debt is theirs. This is understandable, but it also means they may miss an opportunity to remove a debt from their credit report on a technicality.
If W&L has inaccurate information about your debt, it must remove its entry from your credit report and stop collections. This doesn’t mean you don’t owe the money, but it does mean that W&L can no longer report it to the three credit bureaus. The CFPB takes inaccurate reporting very seriously, so it’s worth checking if there’s anything amiss concerning a W&L collection entry.
How to request debt validation
To formally request validation, you must write a debt validation letter, a Section 609 letter, and ask W&L to confirm the details of your debt. Don’t put this off because, under the FDCPA, you must ask for debt validation within 30 days of receiving a debt collector’s first notification. If you wait beyond that, the third-party debt collection agency may not honor your request.
If W&L can’t provide accurate information regarding your debt, it must remove its account from your credit report with the three major credit reporting bureaus. W&L will probably send you the documents that the original creditor transferred to it. Read through each page and look for any inaccuracies or omissions. If you find anything amiss, you can file an advanced dispute with the major credit bureaus to remove the W&L account.
3. Negotiate a settlement
If W&L provides full and accurate details validating your debt, your next step is to negotiate a settlement, specifically, a pay-for-delete settlement. With this kind of payment agreement, you don’t simply pay online and walk away. You make your payment contingent upon the removal of the collection account from your credit history. This takes persistence, but it often works because debt collectors want payments more than they want to punish you with bad credit.
You may not even have to pay the full debt. Consider offering to pay half the balance in exchange for the removal of the negative item from your credit history. You’ll probably have to negotiate, but don’t budge on the terms of the agreement. Removing a collection account can boost your credit score and qualify you for lower interest rates if you apply for loans and credit cards in the future.
After you agree on the terms and conditions, make sure you get the contract in writing before you make a payment. W&L should contact the credit bureaus and remove the account once it receives your initial payment. It usually takes about one month for the entry to disappear, so monitor your report to ensure this happens.
4. Hire a credit professional to deal with W&L
You may feel uncomfortable taking on a debt collector such as W&L on your own. Fortunately, there are professionals out there that can do it for you. Credit repair professionals specialize in identifying and removing damaging accounts from your credit history. In addition to dealing with collection accounts, they can help you manage judgments, liens and bankruptcy.
There are credit repair companies in the market that are simply not worth the money, so it’s important to do your research before you hire professional help.
Is W&L harassing you?
When a debt collector gets in touch, people will sometimes try ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away. They may complain about the harassment, phone calls and unfairness without taking any action against the collector. Others fear wage garnishment, lawsuits or the shame of a debt collector contacting their friends or family.
Delaying tends to make things worse down the line, so if you’re dealing with W&L, confront the situation ASAP. Learn your rights under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, seek support from the CFPB and research other articles that shed light on debt collection practices.
Following the steps in this article can help ensure the removal of a W&L entry from your credit report. This can save you many headaches if you apply for loans or credit cards in the future. Remember, it’s possible to repair your credit and boost your score.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the current number of BBB complaints against W&L and unverifiable information has been removed.
Disclaimer: This story was originally published on December 29, 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/