Library Sent Me To Collections!

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People usually agree that checking your credit report regularly is a good idea, but after downloading all my credit reports just now I found out that I had overdue library fees of $40 from my old city and they sent me to collections! I am 99.9% sure I returned them. I received no mail notices and have received no phone calls from any collection agency either. It’s dated April 2008, although I’ve opened several bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and credit cards since then with no indication that my credit was anything but flawless. It’s only on my Experian report as well.

I’ll have to follow up on this later. Meanwhile, for you library users, I found this NY Times article Late Library Books Can Take Toll on Credit Scores. Well, not a big toll… 😛

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  1. This is bad news.. I owe the public library like 60 bucks from 3 years ago, I’ll pay it this weekend. I hope it’s not too late…

  2. Jonathan, that sucks. Sorry to hear about your misfortune. The good news is that you should be able to dispute it. My wife had some collection issues before we got married, but a few phone calls (and a few hundred dollars) removed it from her credit report. The incident was removed from her report b/c late payment/collection notices were being sent to the wrong house. Sounds somewhat similar to your situation…good luck.

  3. mark hamburger says

    I borrowed a book in 1984 and never returned it, it’s like that episode of Seinfeld, except no guy named Bookman came after me, nothing has happened, the library is still there, but I never got another card, I always worried if they put my info in the computer it would show that I owed money or the alarm would ring or the security guards would swarm upon me, I checked all my credit report nothing shows, I guess back in the 80’s they didn’t keep good records?

  4. Just do a dispute .. if they can’t prove it, it goes off your record!

  5. Wow. Never would have thought about that. Although I am pretty sure I do not owe any fees, I am going to call up my old library and see what I can do to close my account. How would they ever know I moved?

  6. spinster says

    A similar thing happened to me, albeit with an old hospital bill. Don’t bother calling the collection agency to dispute since they’ll be rude and obstinate. I called the creditor and pointed out that they were sending the bills to the wrong address. They offered to have the item removed from my credit report so long as I paid the bill. I did and they removed the credit report item. Good luck to you.

  7. Dispute it or pay it and it will go away.

    I had something about ten years ago where an doctor’s office submitted on overdue bill to collections without ever billing me. I had contacted the office twice to pay what I owed (because I knew I owed them for services) and to tell them that they had not billed me.

    About six month later I moved away from Seattle, forgot about it and about a year after that I get a letter from the collections agency. I called and very politely explained that on two occasions that I had tried to pay the amount and very firmly explained that I take my credit rating and financial obligations very seriously and would like to get this settled TODAY … the collections guy said that he runs into that from time-to-time (who knows) and was really friendly about how to deal with it.

    I think part of it was being polite and part of it was being firm. But I am also ready to call my attorney in on something like this if needed – my credit rating is far too important. For $40, I’d just pay it to deal with it and make sure it gets wiped off the record. A dispute may take hours of your time.

  8. Budget Gal Angie says

    Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is accused of not returning a book from 1971?! lol.

    As others have mentioned, you can dispute the charge with Experian. Mail them a letter explaining that you don’t feel you owe the debt. They have about 30 days to respond and in a case lilke yours, it will likely come off your credit report.

  9. Does that mean all the library needed is your name and full address to send you to collections and have it reported on your credit report? i taught they needed you ssn too. My library doesnt know my ssn.

  10. @private – No, an institution does not need your SSN to put something on your credit report. Often it is just enough to have a name and address that match. Libraries often take down driver’s license or state ID information as well. This is why people have to monitor their credit so much.

  11. You don’t even need to mail a letter to dispute this. You should be able to dispute it online. I did at Long story short, I had a negative on mine that was not legit and disputed…I was shocked at how easy it was to get it taken off.

  12. Brian Satterlee says

    I had an attorney contact me about a medical debt I owed. How is this possible? I talked to them and found out all the details, it was a debt from 5 years ago. Then I went through my quicken records, and sure enough, I had not paid anything towards the debt. The attorney contact was the first contact I had about owing this debt. No statement from the medical provider… nothing. I settled with the attorney and am going to pay the debt, but I had to wonder why I hadn’t received a statement? Did we make some sort of deal with the provider? Oh well, it’s over and done with but you need to be very careful with these kinds of situations.

  13. Don’t they need your social security number to send you to collections? This reminds me of a sienfeld episode where jerry got haunted by a library “special agent ” to get some books back

  14. JoetheBankgeek says

    A few years ago I got a letter from the local library about an overdue book. I was surprised because I remembered returning it. So I went down to the the library and found it on the shelf. I showed it to the librarian and she said I just brought it in and it wasn’t really there on the shelf. I told her that was flat out wrong. After about five minutes she just cancelled the fee what ever the amount was. How did that happen? The library was using volunteers and one of them just didn’t do the job of scanning the book back in properly. I don’t go to the library anymore.

  15. Check your statute of limitation in your state. If ifs beyond 6 years or so; you cannot or do not need to deal with your debts. check this link to find it in your state. Collectors are good at harassing and making you pay. After so many years, it will come off of your credit report.

  16. Welcome to Experian.

  17. The Penny Hoarder Makes Money says

    Agh! I can’t believe that. That make me really nervous. I have this old library book that has been on my shelf for 10 years. I didn’t mean to keep it…it just got packed when we moved cross country. I guess I should track down the address of the library and send it back…


  18. brian,

    5 years? in most states that is past the statute of limitations in which case you would not be liable for payment. this probably does you no good since you already paid it, but thought i’d mention it anyways

  19. Don’t pay it!
    Then you’re stuck with it for 7 years, as you admitted it was legit. Just dispute it, it’ll come off.

  20. DON'T PAY JUST YET! says

    Ron Says: “Dispute it or pay it and it will go away. ”

    It won’t “go away” just because you paid it off. If anything, paying it off just proves you’re guilty of creating that debt.


    Even if you pay it off, it still takes 7 years to be deleted from your credit report(s). It is unlikely that a collector will delete it from your credit report(s) AFTER you paid so it’s best to get it in writing that yes they will delete it (not a verbal agreement which means nothing) BEFORE you pay.

    Some libraries are reporting unpaid fines to the credit bureaus themselves. In some instances libraries are turning over unpaid library fines to collection agencies which in turn, report consumers to credit bureaus. It might look worse if the collection agency (rather than the library) reported you to the credit bureaus (but I’m not 100% sure on this).

    What I do know is that paying it off will only prove that YES the debt is yours and you were irresponsible for not paying it and then you won’t have much luck in removing it from your credit reports.

    Best thing to do is one of the following 2 options:

    Option #1: DISPUTE IT
    1 – Check all 3 of your credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to see which ones the library/hospital/video store, etc. reporting to.

    2 – Contact the credit bureau(s) in which this appears and DISPUTE it with that credit bureau. Don’t bother contacting the collection agency. Some people have said that overdue library fines only appear on their Equifax reports. Tell them there was a mix-up and those fines aren’t yours. If the collections agency or library don’t show proof then you win and the credit bureau deletes it from your report.

    Option #1: PAY FOR DELETION
    Paying to Have Collections Deleted

    You can also make a negotiation with the debt collector to have the account removed from your credit report. Through a process known as “pay for delete” you may be able to convince the debt collector to remove the debt collection from your credit report in exchange for payment.

    1 – First you need to send a letter to the debt collector. Make an offer to send payment for the account if the collector agrees to remove the listing from your credit report. Make sure you include a place for the collector to sign the agreement and instruct the collector to send the letter back to you if the offer is accepted.

    2 – Once you receive a signed offer back, it’s ok to send payment for the account. Just follow up to make sure the collector keeps up his end of the deal.

    Credit bureaus frown on these arrangements, but they cannot stop you from working out a deal with a collector. But it’s best to leave the credit bureau out of it if you take this route. In other words, don’t tell them what you are doing.

    BUT BEWARE! I’ve read online about several people who have tried Pay for Deletion with the collection agency or with their local libraries themselves and have had NO success.


  21. I live in MN and used the local library here, part of MELSA – minneapolis’s library association – twice this year for the purposes of public computer usage. The second time I attempted to use the public computer terminal, the librarian told me I had outstanding library fees on my mother’s account she had back in the winter of 2004! This is unfair, I feel like, and very unethical because the only reason I now have to pay back the $100 of fees is because I “had a last name that resembled a last name of a previous user” and she wanted to know if I “was related to her”, is as she put it. So my question is now, does everyone who share the last name ‘anderson’ also share each fee accrued on their respective accounts?

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