a) anything from a collection company has to come in writing with signatures…. (but you already know that).
b) I think you are back to square zero with these guys. From what I see, you went from 3500 to like 1500 and are now back at $3K? Wait until you have $750 in hand and offer them (in writing) a settlement payment of $750. (25 cents on the dollar)
Send them a letter:
Wait until they return it signed before you send them a copy of the letter with your signature and a money order.
Watch this video to get the idea:
I would recommend ordering a copy of your credit report from the credit bureau. From my uderstanding if you apply for credit and get turned down, you will get the turn down letter from the company you applied with it will have the credit bureau they obtained your credit report from. You can then call the credit bureau’s number on the letter and get a free report.
Once you receive the report, review it and look for the account(s) they are referring to. If it is on your report, contact the collection agencies and ask them to provide documentation for the debt. Once you receive the documentation, if you have the bank statement, receipt or cleared check to prove proof of payment. They then have no other choice but to update it paid. You can also contact the credit reporting agency and provide documentation to have it upated on your credit report. A form will come with your credit report for disputes. Another good thing to do is contact your state’s attorney general’s office about this, they might be able to help provide some type of advice on what to do.
Update – You no longer have to get turned down for credit to get a free credit report, see https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp