Why am I receiving a collection notice from a private collection agency on behalf of the City of Los Angeles?
The City of Los Angeles entered into contracts with four private collection agencies in order to help reduce the City's delinquent accounts. The collection notice you received follows several unsuccessful attempts by the City department to obtain payment for services, taxes or assessments levied against you that are delinquent.
How do I verify that this is not a scam?
The following four collection agencies are under contract with the City of Los Angeles on a citywide basis:
AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc., Caine & Weiner Company, Inc., Harris & Harris, Ltd., and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP (collectively, collection agencies).
Will my personal account information remain confidential?
Yes, the contracts with the collection agencies stipulate that any information provided by the City on delinquent accounts will be used solely for the purpose of collections. This information is to be held in the strictest of confidence and used for no other purpose. The collection agencies are to operate within applicable guidelines set forth by the Federal and State regulations regarding fair debt collection practices.
Whom should I call about the details of my account?
Please contact the collection agency directly at the phone number that appears on your collection notice, as they are currently responsible for the collection of your account.
How long do I have to respond to this collection notice?
Your account is seriously delinquent by the time you have received the collection notice. You should contact the collection agency immediately to arrange payment.
Should I pay the Collection Agency or the department that provided the service?
You should pay the collection agency directly. Payment to the City department will not clear your account faster, as your account has already been transferred to the collection agency. However, the City department will also accept payment by mail or at its public counter.
What happens if I do not respond to the collection notice?
Collection efforts will continue and your account may accrue additional penalties and interest. Collection agencies may report your delinquency to the various credit bureaus, which may affect your credit score. The City of Los Angeles may also elect to file legal action to reclaim the funds.
Are the collection agencies authorized to offer payment plans?
Yes, collection agencies may offer and negotiate payment plans. The decision to grant payment plans will be made on a case-by-case basis. However, the collection agencies do not have the authority to compromise any claim on behalf of the City.
How do I verify that the City received my payment?
The quickest way to verify payment has been received is by contacting the collection agency directly.
If I pay the Collection Agency directly, how long will it take for my account to be credited?
Please be advised that cash, money order, cashier's check and credit card payments will be credited to your account upon receipt by the collection agency. If your account is paid in full, their collection efforts will cease. However, if you pay by personal check, the collection agency will only post payment to your account once the check has cleared.
Has a collection fee been added to my bill?
Yes, in accordance with Los Angeles Administrative Code Section 5.181 (c), persons indebted to the City of Los Angeles for delinquent accounts or any obligations owing to the City, shall be liable for the underlying obligation and all costs incurred to effectuate collection of those items.
If I recently remitted my payment to the City, should I disregard this collection notice?
Do not disregard the collection notice even if you have recently submitted payment. Please be advised that once your account has been placed with a collection agency it is your responsibility to inform the collection agency that you have remitted payment. The collection agency will only stop its collection efforts upon payment verification by the City. Each collection agency provides a dispute resolution process. Once an account has been placed with a collection agency, you should contact them directly to resolve a dispute.
Are interest and penalties included in the amount of this collection notice?
Yes, unless prohibited by City Ordinance, City departments may charge penalty and interest on delinquent accounts.
How do I report abuses by the Collection Agencies or file a formal complaint?
As each collection agency provides its own dispute resolution process, your complaint may be resolved by contacting the collection agency directly through the contact information listed on their collection notice. You should also write the Office of Finance Citywide Billing and Collection Program at City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Room 1225, Los Angeles, CA 90012, to file a complaint. The collection agencies will be required to respond to the City regarding any complaint received by the City against the collection agency relative to handling of a City account.
What will happen if I am reported to a credit bureau?
Your credit rating may be affected, which could impact your ability to receive future credit. To avoid this, please contact the collection agency immediately to arrange payment on your account.
How long will it take for my name to be removed from the credit bureau files after payment and how long will it affect my credit?
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, collection information may remain on your record for seven (7) years from the date of delinquency with the original creditor.
Whom can I contact in the City if I have additional questions regarding use of outside collection agencies?
You can contact the Office of Finance Citywide Collection Program at (213) 978-7900, with additional questions, comments, and suggestions regarding the collection agency process. However, please note that questions regarding the status, or balance, of your account should be directed to the specific collection agency handling your account.