Paying off your debts is an important part of a healthy credit profile. Here’s what you need to know in order to find your debt.
It’s awkward to admit, but it’s entirely possible that you have debts you didn’t even know about. Whether emails gone missing or medical debt communications messed up, it’s possible an account with your name is languishing in collections somewhere. Get some tips to help you figure out all of your debts so that you can make informed decisions about how to clean up your credit score.
How to find all of your debts
Even if you keep meticulous records, it is possible that some debt has fallen through the cracks. And maybe you knows You owe a debt but it has been passed on between collection agencies so many times that you forgot who the debt currently belongs to. Here you can find out which collection agency you owe or which debts you do not know.
1. Check your credit reports
Our first tip to finding your hidden debt is to check with your credit report. While not all guilt is reported, there are many. And if you’re in collections or have owed the debt for a while, chances are someone has put a negative on at least one of your credit reports.
The trick here is to get copies of all three Your credit reports from the big offices. Not all creditors report to all three, so TransUnion, for example, might have a detail that Equifax and Experian don’t – and vice versa.
AnnualCreditReport.com gives you a free copy of your credit report from each agency each year. (Due to COVID-19, they are available for a limited time weekly.) But for those who really want to know who they owe and what is on their report, a service like ExtraCredit is a great choice.
With ExtraCredit, you can view your credit reports from all three offices at any time. The reports are accessed monthly. You will also receive regular updates on 28 of your FICO® scores so you have a clear picture of what your credit score is to lenders. You will also receive rewards and offers on valuable credit services, including credit monitoring and credit cards.
2. Go through old and new mail
Who of us didn’t pick up the mail just to put it in a pile by the front door and leave it there for months? Life is busy, and it can be tempting to slip unopened envelopes into a container or drawer and forget about them. However, emails can be backed up before you even notice them and you might miss a bill or debt notification.
Take some time to gather all the email you have. Open it up and sort it, carefully examining whether you need to take any action or whether you might owe someone money. Keep a notebook or computer nearby so you can make a list.
3. Listen to all of those old voicemails
Voicemail can be backed up like a mail. Many people never really check their voicemail provided that those who need it call them back or text them.
Legitimate creditors and debt collection agencies should leave a voicemail with contact information. They are usually shown in your Caller ID as well.
Delete your old voicemail, listen to and make notes about each. Compare this information with the notes you received from your email and the information on your credit report to create a master list of the debts you may owe. Keep an eye out for potential debt collection scammers and do your research before reaching out to anyone.
4. Reach out to creditors who you believe you owe
In some cases you knows You owe someone, but it’s been a while. You can contact the last creditor you remember and find out if they still own the debt or if they wrote it off and sold it to a debt collection agency. They should be able to confirm your debt and, if necessary, give you the name and contact information of the agency they sold the debt to.
What to Do After Finding Your Debt
Once you go through a debt finder process and figure out who you owe money to, there are a few decisions you need to make. Here are three tips for dealing with debt once you find it.
1. Decide whether you can or want to pay
You could rush to pay off old debts believing this will add to your bankroll, but that cannot happen. Yes, the debt should then be marked as paid on your credit report. However, the damage from late payments and collection accounts could still persist.
So you need to seriously consider how you can and will deal with old debts. If you simply cannot afford to pay, speak to an attorney about your options, rights, and the consequences of paying or failing to pay old debts. For example, when you start making payments the statute of limitations can restart and expose you to the risk of litigation and debt collection activities for much longer.
2. Consider credit repair services
One result of researching credit reports and tracking old debts may be to find bugs or collections that you don’t really owe. If you find inaccurate information in your credit reports, you can work with a credit repair service.
Credit repair services work on your behalf to dispute inaccurate information with the credit reporting agencies. You can actually do the loan repair yourself. However, if you don’t have the time or just know you won’t follow up, you might get more value by paying professionals to do it for you.
3. Keep up to date with your credit reports and debt in the future
Once you’ve done the job of finding and cleaning up your debt, you may well be able to keep up with your credit reports well into the future. While every single debt may not appear – or appear immediately – on your credit report, sticking to your credit report ensures that you know most of them. ExtraCredit gives you access to the accounts you need to keep track of your debts and creditworthiness.
Bonus tip: When you have found all of your debts, use a debt management app like Tally to keep track of them so you never have to wonder about them again.
TL; DR: ExtraCredit can help you identify and manage your debt
Once you’ve lost track of your debt and you know what you owe to whom, it can take some work and time to track it down. But if you do, you’ll always stay one step ahead of these things with the help of ExtraCredit.