Southwest Credit Systems is a large first and third-party debt collection agency that is headquartered in Carrollton, Texas.
The company collects on a broad swathe of consumer debts that includes; financial services, Utilities, government payments, telecommunications, education loans, property management, and other bills that their clients wish to have collected.
They claim to manage billions of dollars’ worth of consumer debts.
This company was founded in 1974 as Southwest Credit Systems, but in 2015, they changed their name to SWC Group, which means that they can call you using any of their two names.
On BBB they have been given a B rating. This BBB rating represents the opinions of consumers on how the business interacts with them. They base this rating from the information they receive in the form of complaints to help other consumers understand more about the company.
Their ratings range from A+, which is the best and the highest, up to F, which is the worst and the lowest.
They have on record 416 complaints against SWC systems. Justia has a record of 39 lawsuits that have been lodged against SWC, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has so far closed 348 cases against SWC.
Have they been harassing you?
If you have been dealing with SWC systems and you feel harassed, you must understand your rights as a consumer. Many of these rights have been granted under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA)
Here are signs that they are harassing you;
If you are receiving multiple calls each week from Southwest Credit Systems.
If you are being called either late at night or very early in the morning.
If Southwest Credit Systems have been calling your friends, coworkers, and neighbors and telling them about your debts.
If Southwest Credit Systems have been threatening you with adverse credit reporting.
If they have attempted to collect more than you owe.
If they have been making criminal accusations against you.
If automated robocalls are being made on phone in an attempt to collect from you.
If they are using an obscene language when talking to you.
If they have been making attempts to intimidate you.
If they are disguising the fact that they are debt collectors trying to collect a debt
If they are pretending to be attorneys, police officers, or federal agents
If they are threatening to report false information to the credit bureaus
If they are demanding amounts that are inflated by ‘service charges.’
What can you do if you are being harassed?
Federal laws protect you from this type of harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a legislation that was passed by Congress to regulate the debt collection industry. This act consists of laws and guidelines that all debt collections agencies must follow to ensure that they do not violate the rights of the consumer.
As a consumer, you must be aware of your rights to protect yourself from harassment and intimidation from debt collectors.
Here are some of their rules on debt collectors;
They prohibit the use of harmful and unfair tactics when trying to collect a debt.
They should not contact anybody who is not the main person that owes the debt.
They shouldn’t threaten you with referral to an attorney, wage garnishment, or harm your credit without an actual intent or act on the threat.
They should not call you at unreasonable times, such as before 8 am, or after 9 pm.
They should not contact you at your place of work if you have specifically asked them not to do so.
They should not place calls to inform on you to your employer or disclose any aspect of your debt to others.
They should not use profane or obscene language during their calls.
They should not send collection letters which appear to be from a government office or a court.
They should not threaten to arrest you if the debt remains unpaid.
In short, it says debt collectors are required to be honest, up-front, and not deceptive. Additionally, it says debt collectors are supposed to treat you with that modicum of respect and dignity that every human being deserves. And yes, the FDCPA is violated just about as often as our drug laws in this country.
Here’s the rub: If you want to enforce your rights or recover money for violations, you shall be forced to sue. If the debt collection company has not followed the rules and regulations stipulated by the FDCPA, then you must collect as much evidence as you possibly can, and take them to court.
These laws provide individuals like you with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers who have been violated to recover damages up to $1,000, plus the debt collector will pay for your attorney fees and any court costs.
Point to note
Avoid what most people do and pay off collections, with the belief that this is how to improve your credit score. It makes logical sense, but it’s not reality.
The only thing that happens when you pay off a collection is that the status of the item is changed on your credit report. It’ll go from an outstanding collection to a paid collection.
A paid collection is still a negative item, and it’s going to cause you to have a low credit score. Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for FICO, says a collection on your credit reports can damage your score by up to 100 points.
It’s true a paid collection, is slightly better than an unpaid collection, but they’re both going to damage your creditworthiness. Further, this is exactly what Southwest Credit and every debt collector want you to do, pay collections.
In addition to making phone calls, sending letters, and writing emails while demanding payment, SWC also reports negative information about your account to credit bureaus, which will add this negativity to your credit report.
If they are unable to collect on your account, they usually resort to one of two options;
They will bring a civil lawsuit against you. This means that you shall be sued for the amount you owe. SWC can do this, or the other collection agency will do it.
The goal of these options is to get a judgment against you, which will enable them to use stronger collection methods such as wage garnishment and putting liens on you and your property to even asset seizure.
This is why I always advise my readers to ensure that they either negotiate for a repayment schedule with the debt collector or pay the debt once it has been validated because entering into a cat and mouse chase game with the collector will only result in your downfall.
Some of these companies are quite huge, and you may not be in a position to take them on.
How do you deal with Southwest Credit Systems?
Ensure that you get validation of the debt
The biggest coup of the FDCPA is that it will empower you to request debt validation on your account. This is essentially how you say – show me the evidence or proof of your legal claim to collect this money from me.
The first thing you should do when you receive a letter from Southwest Credit Systems is to send them a reply through a debt verification letter.
A debt verification letter is a letter that you should send after the collector has sent you a debt validation letter.
After you receive the initial call, or letter, demanding that you pay a debt, you should not pay a single dime of it before confirming that the debt belongs to you. The debt collector is required to send you a debt validation letter which outlines the debt in terms of how much you owe and any other information they may have about you.
If you are uncertain about the debt you are being asked to pay, you can send them a debt verification letter which should request them to provide you with more information. This option is best when you are planning to pay off the debt.
Once Southwest Credit Systems receive your verification request, they are required to provide you with the information you enquired about, plus any accompanying documentation within 30 days. This documentation should contain your signature, to verify that you indeed owe the money; otherwise, you shall not be liable to pay the debt.
If they fail to validate your account, for whatever reason, then your debt is legally forgiven. As in you’re no longer legally responsible for repayment. Further, they’re supposed to contact all three credit bureaus, to have them start getting collections removed from credit report files, regarding this account.
Age of Account
Next, you shall be required to check how old the account is. This will be from the date of your last activity. This should be found in the paperwork they used to validate the account.
You see, there are state laws that regulate how long you can legally be responsible for repaying a debt. Generally speaking, this is usually seven years, from the first date of delinquency. However, each state normally has its unique laws when it comes to the local legislation.
This is what we call the statute of limitations, and it applies to a majority of the consumer debts, from medical bills, credit cards, retail utilities, loans, telecommunications, etc. The few exceptions to this rule are defaulted student loans and federal income taxes.
Once this window of time elapses, your legal responsibility for repayment ends.
Warning, it’s a common debt collection industry tactic to re-age consumer accounts. And often this is done illegally. It’s also one of many reasons why it’s so potentially hazardous and financially dangerous to communicate with collection agencies.
Often they first require recognition of the debt, and many companies view that as account activity. And that so-called account activity can reset the statute of the limitations time clock.
Negotiate a settlement with them
If your account has been validated, and it is within the statute of limitations, the next step you should take is to negotiate for a settlement agreement directly with Hunter Warfield. It is advisable to do this in writing in two parts;
First: you will need to negotiate to pay less than the total debt balance. Often, you shall be able to pay as little as 15% or up to 45% of the debt balance. The exact amount will depend on the type of debt you have in collections and how old it is.
Second: The second part of the agreement is extremely critical. In exchange for your payment, Hunter Warfield must agree to stop reporting the account to the credit bureaus, to ensure that it doesn’t appear on your credit report and mess up your credit score.
How do you remove Southwest Credit Systems from your credit report?
This can be done through the dispute procedure. For the negative item to be removed entirely from your credit report, you must engage some dispute procedures which will lead to a cleanup of your report.
To do this, we’ll need to exercise more of your consumer rights, this time, those granted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
If you have been working hard to fix and improve your credit score, you must remove any negative and derogatory information from your credit report.
I would advise you to be very cautious when dealing with debt collectors because this industry is akin to the Wild, Wild West. They can seriously mess you up.
The government fines this industry every year because most of the companies operate on a total disregard of the law. Understanding your rights as a consumer will help you when dealing with debt collectors, and also help you identify when they violate these rights.
Your credit score is significant for your financial freedom, and as such, you need to be wise and intelligent when they call you. You had better engage the services of professionals, rather than ignoring their calls.