My experience working with financially-challenged consumers and their creditors nationwide since the economic downturn reflects that virtually every national issuer of credit cards, even larger regional credit unions, have gone as far as they can to assist their struggling account holders. Capital One is an exception to this. How Capital One goes about settling a debt with you, their treatment of credit reporting after agreeing to reduce your balance, and the fact that they are the most likely to sue for collection, all combine for one huge exercise in caution and awareness.
Credit card issuers offer plans to reduce interest rates on credit cards through hardship plans, debt management plans, credit counseling plans, or offer balance concessions through debt settlement, which go a long way in helping their customers avoid bankruptcy. In this way (credit card payment concessions), Capital One is not all that different from other credit card banks.
Capital One, in my experience, is often tougher to work with.
Banks who are paying attention know that working out some type of arrangement with account holders, who will otherwise be forced into filing chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, is in their best interest. Creditors will generally offer fair concessions as a final option because they will lose the least. For more about this see: Banks Choose to lose the least.
I am not sure Capital One is paying attention.
Capital One is quick to use the courts in order to collect on delinquent accounts. They would apparently rather their account holders file bankruptcy.
I continue to encourage seeking bankruptcy protection if your debt is mainly with Capital One.
Now we have Capital One choosing to be spiteful, and perhaps illegally, with those few credit card holders they may offer fair concessions to. To see the collection letter referred to below in its entirety: Capital One Collection Letter
The coupon for $50.00 you will see in the collection letter linked above is not all that new a twist to get a delinquent CapOne credit card member to call MRS Associates (a debt collector). It is worth noting however, it is only a collection ploy and nowhere near worth taking advantage of the perceived “FREE STUFF”. The main problem I want to draw your attention and provide awareness to, is number 9 on page 2 of the collection letter.
9. Credit Reporting of Your Settled Account. If your Account is settled before it is charged off, the remainder of your Account balance will be charged off. We will then report your Account to credit reporting agencies as settled with an outstanding balance.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the requirement to report only complete and accurate information to the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA’s)? This would FALSELY characterize the trade line and SKEW any later debt to income and/or utilization formula rendering them inaccurate as well. This means that Capital One could be causing consumer’s damages post debt settlement, when they are applying for future loan products whose interest rates and even approval will be factored on a credit report that contains erroneous and false information.
Reporting a balance still due and owing when it has been forgiven would falsely characterize this trade line in your credit report. How do we know the unpaid portion of the settlement is forgiven? Let’s look to number 8 on page 2 of Capital Ones collection letter:
8. IRS Reporting of Debt Forgiveness. If we cancel or forgive $600 or more of principal on a debt you owe, we must provide a 1099-C tax form to you and the IRS. Please consult your tax advisor and the instructions accompanying your tax forms for more information.
How can number 8, indicating the required reporting of forgiven debt to the IRS, comport with erroneously reporting an outstanding balance when it has:
- Been forgiven
- Been settled for a lesser amount agreed to by both parties, thereby leaving no “outstanding” balance
How is Capital One NOT violating the FCRA when they report your debt after settling?
Remember the marauding Viking themed commercials that Capital One ran for many years on television? Here they are wreaking havoc through the lives of real people, NOT ACTORS!
If you have a Capital One story to share, especially as it relates to improper credit reporting, I invite implore you to share it in the comment section below.
Update: Since publishing the above Capital One article about credit reporting and settling Cap One credit cards a couple years ago, some softening of options available to account holders who fall behind has occurred. We do still see the poor credit reporting policy on settled accounts with Capital One, but have also seen how that is getting addressed using disputes with the credit bureaus. If you are serious about resolving unpaid credit card debt with Capital One and have other credit card debts to resolve, it is important to prioritize accounts and target the best savings with the available money you have and can project saving up in the short term. If you have an experience with Capital One collections, credit reporting, or lawsuits, please share in the comments below. If you have questions about how to handle debts with Capital One, post in the comments for feedback.