Thursday, August 12, 2010

Unique National Collections

Unique National Collections is by far the most interesting collection agency I've ever encountered. Most people who research this company do so only to find out how to remove Unique National Collections from their credit reports. When disputing your debt with this particular agency, you can't follow the traditional route. It just won't work. Let me give you some basic info first to help you understand why.

Library Collection Agency

Unique National Collections is a library collection agency. The only debts they accept are for old library fines. Reporting library fines to collections is a relatively new policy that has only become mainstream within the past ten years or so.

Unlike credit card debts and medical bills, however, library fines are anything but lucrative. You're looking at $10 here or $40 there rather than thousands of dollars of collectable debt. This can make negotiations extremely difficult due to the simple fact that there isn't much incentive on anyone's end to go through the trouble of modifying your credit report simply to recover a few bucks.

Not returning library books could land you in collections.
But I Didn't Know About the Library Fine!

Welcome to the club. Most people that end up in UNC's database of debtors do so because they moved and didn't get notices from the library asking for the fee or either the library never bothered to send anything. However, the odds are that you never received anything from Unique either. They certainly don't make it a company policy to dial you literally every two minutes until you change your phone number or send you multiple empty lawsuit threats through the mail. I used to refer to this as "guerrilla credit attacks".

No, Unique National Collections will just report that nasty little trade line to the credit bureaus and sit back and do nothing. When you call to settle up, dispute or pay they'll nothing.

Unique National Collections Won't Accept Payment

Ok, so you've fallen under the delusion somehow that paying a collection agency is a good idea and you figure, "Hey, its only a few dollars and my credit report will show that the debt was paid" so you call up the collection agency and explain that you'd like to pay off the account. But guess what?

Unique National Collections does not accept payments

 I'm willing to bet that's a real "WTF??" moment for plenty of debtors to try and pay a collection agency only to be refused. is where things get truly sneaky. UNC will direct you to pay the fee to your library. You see, they collect on behalf of the library, but they don't actually "collect." They also seem to think that FDCPA laws don't apply to them. 

UNC Debt Validation 

I've heard reports that attempting to validate a debt from UNC can go one of two ways:

1. They validate and they validate well. 

2. They claim they don't need to validate

I believe both reports, since I've heard them repeatedly from multiple people.

Here's the skinny: In Scenario 1, Unique National Collections will send you everything they've got on the account. Yes, you'll get the standard ridiculous printout that all collection agencies like to send, but you'll also get other information as well. UNC will often go so far as to contact the library you owe the debt to, have them check their records and send you a statement from the library stating that yes, the debt is legitimate and the amount of the debt.

A statement from the original creditor is pretty much a slam dunk debt validation.

In Scenario 2, Unique will send you a letter informing you that they aren't required to validate. Period. Sound nutty? It is, but the rationale behind it is sound and remarkably ingenious. By stating they they aren't required to validate your debt, UNC is hiding behind the fact that it doesn't actually collect debt. Only "collection agencies" are required to abide by the debt validation laws in the FDCPA. Considering that the Federal Trade Commission (which is responsible for upholding these laws)'s legal definition of collection agency is "any entity which regularly collects debts for others" you can clearly see the loophole.

Its as good as saying "Oh, don't mind us, we're not a collection agency. So no, we don't validate."

Can any business legally place a collection on your credit report and yet not be a collection agency? Supposedly not. I think this is wonderful grounds for a fascinating lawsuit examining what actually defines a collection agency. The debtor would win, I think, and Unique National Collections (its even in their name!) knows that too. The kicker here is that the company also knows that nobody is going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on attorney fees and court costs to sue them for a debt that small!

Sure, you could recover damages, but only "actual" damages plus $1000. Since sustaining actual damages from a collection account so small is almost impossible, UNC gets to freely abide by their own laws – at least for the time being.

Don't count on a debt validation from Unique.
All I can figure is that the way the company responds to debt validation requests hinges on both: the type of letter the debtor sends and how recent the debt is. The easier it is for UNC to get in touch with your library, the better. Granted, they could just pick up the phone, but something tells me libraries purge records after awhile. This is an area I'm not familiar with, so if anyone knows anything about library records and how they work, please comment and let me know. 

Their refusal could also hinge on debt validation's 30 day rule. Since they don't send out notification to individuals that they've even been assigned the debt, there is no way in hell the 30 day time clock starts before the debtor sends his request for validation. 

Removing Unique National Collections From Your Credit Report 

Unique National Collections may claim to some that it doesn't have to validate debts, but it sure as hell validates them to the credit bureaus if you attempt to dispute that nasty little black mark off your credit report. 

As I mentioned previously, removing Unique National Collections from your credit report can be exceptionally difficult (not impossible) because of the size of the debt. You literally have no negotiation power whatsoever. Add this to the fact that UNC requires that you work out the debt with the library (which has NO knowledge or respect for credit law 99% of the time) and you've got a SNAFU of epic proportions. 

Working Library Collections Out With the Library

Your best option is working out the debt directly with the library. Don't just head up to the library and start talking to the desk clerk about your library collections, the collection agency, modifying your credit report, etc. The desk clerk doesn't know anything about anything. She's probably been put there by the state Department of Labor as part of a welfare-to-work program or just finished high school (My apologies to those few educated and knowledgeable library front desk personnel out there. You're awesome, but you're few and far between). You absolutely must call and make an appointment to speak with the head librarian. 

Yes, I know the business office deals with this sort of thing, not the librarian, but you're just going to have to trust me on this. 

Dress nice and get ready to smile and kiss some serious ass. 

Not an ass-kisser? LEARN.
Your job at this point is to make the head librarian simultaneously like you and pity you. Make it very clear that you are more than willing to pay the overdue library fee and deeply regret not knowing about its existence until now. Let the librarian know just why it didn't get paid in the first place. Just a tip, but blaming it on the library is a bad idea. For all you know, the librarian may have sent that notice out personally. Even if you never got one, that doesn't mean one wasn't sent. A move, a careless roommate or a divorce are all good excuses for why you never knew about the debt. 

Gauge What the Librarian Knows About Credit Law

Most people don't have credit law as a hobby. They either do it for a living or they don't do it at all. The odds are in your favor that the head librarian doesn't know jack squat about credit reporting other than the basics. He/she isn't required to know. Plus, most people who show up with a library fine in collections wanting the library to remove Unique National Collections from their credit reports make the mistake of taking the subject up with the desk clerk. They don't ever reach the head librarian. 

Ask the head librarian when the collection account will disappear from your credit report and analyze the response. She (I'm just going to make this librarian a woman for simplicity's sake. I hate doing the he/she thing) will likely tell you that she doesn't know and to take it up with the collection agency. This is where things get crucial. You use several methods to get this done:

Method One: 

Inform the librarian that the collection agency claims to have no control over the credit report as long as it owns the debt. Ask her to pull the debt out of collections and remove it from your credit report. If she claims that she is unable to do that, ask her if the account will reflect as "paid" once you pay off the debt. She'll say yes. Tell her that credit removal works the same way. Rather than communicating to Unique National Collections that the debt has been paid, however, the library must communicate that no debt exists and remove UNC from your credit report. Say whatever the hell you have to to get the librarian to agree to this. 

Tip: It's particularly effective to play the innocent card. Example: "Ms. So and So, our current credit system was designed to inform creditors and lenders of a given applicant's credit risk. Unfortunately, that doesn't take into account people like me, who pay their debts on time yet fall through the cracks when we're up against a debt we don't know about. This paints a very inaccurate picture of me and I need the library's help to get this straightened out." 

Method Two

Sometimes, you'll be up against library personnel who are old hands at this game. In this case, they know that removing accurate credit information is *technically* a FCRA violation (even though the FTC does not enforce this at all. Ever.) and just basically don't care about you and your credit one way or the other. In this case, here is your game plan:

NOTE: This hinges on you moving fast. Lightening speed caliber fast. With any luck, the account will take 30 days or longer to update as "paid" on your credit report. The goal is to have the account gone by the time an update would have occurred. 

Step One:

Go to the desk clerk and ask if you have any library fines on record. Pay the library fines. If you're really lucky, the library may not have a record of your unpaid debt. Regardless of whether you pay the fine or the library knows nothing about it, ask for a written statement from the library demonstrating that you do not owe a library fee and do not have an account in collections. 

Step Two:

Immediately go and get copies made of the letter. As in, don't stop and get lunch on the way home, go straight to Kinko's. Hell, if you think you can get away with it, sneak away to the copier in the library and make yourself about five copies of the letter. 

Step Three:

Fire off a debt validation letter to Unique National Collections. Include a copy of the library's letter stating that you don't owe any fees and don't have an account in collections. Its a good idea to have the debt validation letter already written and waiting. That way all you need to do is put a copy of the library's letter in the envelope and send it. 

Step Four:

Dispute the collection account on your credit report from Unique National Collections with the credit bureaus. Do this via mail and not online or by phone. Send a copy of the library's letter stating that you aren't in collections and don't owe any fees. As with the debt validation request, have the letter already written and waiting to expedite the process. 

Step Five:

Wait for the credit bureaus to investigate. What will happen is the credit bureaus will contact Unique National Collections by phone or fax and ask it to verify the accuracy of the account. Unique can't validate with the credit bureaus until it validates with you, that's against the FDCPA. 

But wait! It can't validate the accuracy of the account because the account is no longer accurate! As long as the "paid" update hasn't come through yet, the trade line is wrong. With a little bit of luck, Unique National Collections will decide to actually validate and contact the library. When it does, it will be told that the account has either been paid off or doesn't exist. 

Collection agencies are familiar with the one-two punch. When Unique gets a debt validation request from you and a debt verification request from the credit bureaus at the same time, it will know you mean business. If it can't verify, it won't. Unique isn't a major baddie like NCO and they usually play by the rules. 

You paid, but does the collection agency know that?

Unique National Collections Removes Paid Accounts Early

Before you break your back and cause yourself extreme stress over this, you should be aware of the fact that, unlike most collection agencies which allow debts to linger on your credit report for seven years (or longer if, like NCO, they like to reage debts), Unique National Collections removes debts from your credit report automatically one year after you pay off the debt. 

Policies change, so I highly recommend that if you plan on just paying off your library fee and waiting it out that you call someone at the collection agency and get something in writing to this effect. Normally I would never, ever advocate calling a collection agency, but UNC doesn't give a rat's ass what your phone number is and they aren't going to start calling and harassing you. 

Is All This Really Necessary?

Not if the amount you owe is under $100. As of January 2009, FICO no longer takes collection accounts under $100 into consideration when calculating credit scores. If your debt with Unique is less than $100 (and it very likely is) then there is little purpose in going to great lengths to remove it.

Yes, if you apply for a mortgage or other loan your lender may ask you what it is. If he tells you to pay it before you can get a loan, laugh at him and tell him that you aren't paying that piddly little debt out of pure principal – then find a new lender. I know from experience that, provided the rest of your credit is stellar, your lender will either not bring it up or not push your refusal to pay. 


  1. There are lawyers out there who will fight this fight (I am one of them). Take the time to consult an attorney and make these people pay for their absurd and unlawful behavior.

    1. You are awesome for this comment! I have a library fine I just found out about and I am scared of what I just read. I just want to pay it off and be done with it.

  2. Unique National Collections doesn't only collect for library fines but also parking tickets. And they do call but not obnoxiously like others can and do.

  3. I was not aware that they also collected for parking tickets. Thank you very much for taking the time to point that out.

  4. They are on my credit report from a library fine I have in the amount of $55.00 I paid the Library in April 2010. Should I just wait until this April to see if it has been removed? I was going to send a "goodwill" letter to UNC to see if they would remove it as I was going through a divorce at the time and had to move out of my house immediately due to getting a PPO on my now ex-husband. I'm wondering if UNC REALLY removes paid items from credit reports after 1 year or if I should send out the goodwill letter.

  5. I work at a library, I am actually the circulation manager, and the main contact for dealing with fines. (not the head librarian, that title really doesn't exist anymore) We use Unique as a way of getting our material back. We don't send "fines only" accounts to the collection agency, we only send people who have over $25 worth of our material that they are keeping. I am always willing to work with patrons on fines once the items are returned. You are right that Unique will not deal with negotiations, but the library usually will, just return the items that don't belong to you!

    1. Or the 3 books i had that were finally "found" by the library

    2. I am a violator. I kept 4 books from the Library and never returned them. I will be honest didn't put much thought into it until I saw UNC on my credit report for $141. I plan on returning the books and paying my fine, I just really hope that doing this will reflect on my credit report in a timely manner.

    3. Don't know what library you work for but the fact is that my university never gave me a receipt for a book return. I had to either drop it in a night "drop slot" or put it on a conveyor belt that somehow sends it to the backroom to be marked as returned. No one gives me a receipt saying that a book was returned, but somehow now I have a ding on my credit for a claim that it wasn't returned - how do I prove that I put this stupid book in the drop slot?

    4. Contact your library, explain the situation and ask them that question. The exact same thing happened to me in college. I was never able to prove that I returned the book and I absolutely REFUSED to pay a fine to a collection agency for a book I returned. So a $22 fine from UNC sat on my credit report for seven years. The good news? Every lender who saw it and heard the story laughed. Plus, as long as its under $100 you don't have to worry too much about credit damage.

  6. Anonymous, I don't know if you'll see this but when you say the library will negotiate, are you referring to the amount due or the library's willingness to request that UNC pull its derogatory info off the consumer's credit report when the library debt is paid? I've never actually seen UNC's contract so that would be great information to have. And I agree with you, just return the books! It makes life much easier.

  7. I am one of those people that UNC has on file owing books. $96.00 to be exact. The problem is, these books were returned over 2 years ago. The problem i am having is the library io borrowed them from was closed for a few months for renovations. we were advised to either leave them at the front slot (piles and piles were left there every day), or take them to the closest library. i opted for the closest library. they were not overdue or anything so i just gave them in and left. never asked for any proof. i didnt think i needed to since the library is one system .
    now i have this debt that everyone says i owe. its very frustrating when no one helps you.

  8. You have a legitimate complaint. Please make an appointment to talk to the head of your library about this situation. Be civil. Explain that a library mistake is causing significant harm to your credit and you want it removed. You'd be surprised how willing some people are to work with you when you're nice.

    Just for reference, under the new FICO scoring system, debts under $100 have a minimal impact on your scores.

    If all else fails, have an attorney draft a letter threatening to sue the library. That ought to change their tune rather quickly.

  9. I owe a Library in Orlando, which is hours away (i moved), $700. My friend and I had decided that, since we were moving, we should check out a lot of stuff and not return them.

    I've returned all but 4 items (ripping my balls off right now), and UNC has just sent me their letter.


  10. If possible, return the remaining three items to the library. Personally, I can't condone paying $700 in library fees. That's ridiculous and hopefully the library administrator will agree. Try making a payment arrangement with the library administrator provided the administrator agrees to pull your account out of collections. Check your credit report first though. Pulling your account out of collections does no good if the fact that Unique National Collections once held the debt still shows up on your credit report. Best of luck.

  11. I checked my online library account and the library said I owe them $60.00, all fees and stuff included. I don't owe them any books and only owe money because they were late.

    Then I got a letter from the collection agency. The total was triple the amount. $311.94. This is absurd. Why is it so much??? The company is called Uniques National Collection.

    I read about them and they only deal with library fines. It also said that my credit report will have this amount and next to the amout it may state "paid" (I think I have to make sure my report states this with either my library or this collection agency) and will delete autonatically from my report in one year. So since it's gonna be deleted I'm not worried if it stays in my report. I am worried about which amount I have to pay.

    So which amount do I have to pay? The collection amount, $311.94, or the library amount, $60.00???

    Also, what do you guys recommend I do?? Should I see the library manager. By the way, I bought back all my books. And this amount is ridicoiulus

  12. UNC has posted to my credit report that I owe $146, since then I have returned the books and my library account is now due $60. (I have a printed statement.) Should I send UNC a debt validation letter to get this removed from my report since it is no longer accurate?

  13. "Try making a payment arrangement with the library administrator provided the administrator agrees to pull your account out of collections. Check your credit report first though. Pulling your account out of collections does no good if the fact that Unique National Collections WHICH once held the debt still shows up on your credit report. Best of luck."

    Lee, I'm a bit confused by this.

    Do you mean that he should check his 3 credit reports first just to make sure UNC even appears on his reports? Because all he has from UNC is a letter but I don't think he has actually checked his credit reports.

    Or do you mean that before he even begins paying a dime back, he should make sure the library administrator removed the bad mark from his credit report?

    Do librarians even know how to do this and if they did, wouldn't she wait until AFTER he paid everything back? I thought it was UNC who reports people to the credit bureaus?

    I am in a similar situation as azzclown, except I owe a lot less than $700.00.

    -Jonathon in Florida

  14. Jonathon, Sorry for not answering you sooner, I've been on a much-needed vacation this past week.

    To answer your question, I do think checking his credit reports is a good idea, but in my experience UNC reports everyone, no matter how small the amount.

    The library administrator does not have the authority to directly remove UNC's report because its the collection agency – not the library – that has a contract with the credit bureaus. The library administrator can, however, pull the account itself away from UNC. Once that occurs, UNC must remove the notation from the credit report.

    Waiting until after you pay a collection debt to ask for removal is a big mistake. After a person pays his debt, the former creditor has no incentive to do anything to help him beyond that point.

    The library administrator does know how to pull accounts out of collections. If the library can put accounts in, they can also pull them out. Remember, the librarian doesn't have to do anything complicated like negotiate with the credit bureaus. All the library needs to do is simply revoke UNC's right to continue collection activity on the account in exchange for payment in full from the debtor. I'd get it in writing before paying though.

  15. Helen,

    If UNC is reporting the wrong amount then, by all means, send a DV. Unfortunately, UNC doesn't like to play ball with DV letters. I hate to have to tell you this, but the most likely scenario here is that your DV letter will result in UNC updating its records if it has not already done so.

    You can always get a written statement from the library reflecting the new balance, dispute the debt with the credit bureaus and when UNC validates the wrong amount, file a lawsuit against them.

    Unlike most collection agencies, which leave their tradelines on consumers' credit records for as long as possible (7 years under the law), UNC will remove its tradelines 12 months after you pay off your library bill in full. So even if the DV doesn't get UNC off your back, once you pay off that $60 you only have to wait a year before UNC disappears forever – provided you don't incur additional library fees, of course.

  16. Anonymous,

    The way I understand it, if you do not return library books the library assesses a late fee and requires you to pay for the missing material. Because you returned the material, the original fee of $311 dropped to $65. Apparently someone at the library forgot to inform UNC about this.

    You only owe $65 and you owe it to library – not the collection agency. If the library refuses to accept your payment and instead directs you to pay UNC, you must get a written statement from the library noting that you returned the books and only owe $65. Otherwise UNC will apply the $65 to your account and continue trying to collect the remaining $246.

  17. Hi, i'm just starting my freshman year in highschool.
    But I have an issue here. During my 8th grade year, my english class makes us do these monthly book reports. Now I always borrowed books from pio pico library from LA and I had problems with returning things on time. But the reasons were because I ride the metro bus home but my house is about an hour away from my school so I need to get to my house as soon as possible. Also, i take 3 public transportation buses to get home. So it makes it very hard for me to just go and return the books on time. Yes I have been notified about these late book fees, but I hadn't been doing anything about it because it was almost graduation & my grades made me ineligible to graduate. So I was just completely thinking about school & family because they'd be disappointed in me if I didn't graduate. But now after I got all of my grades up and completed my goals, I go home and get a mail from the UNC. These debts are really frustrating me because i'm only in freshman now & I already have a debt...Y'know? It doesn't seem much to other people I guess but to me & my family, $40.55 is pretty much a big deal for us. Please help! I really need this amount to be reduced....This started off from like $8.00 to now $40.55..

  18. I have a bill from UCA for $111 which I'm fighting. I have already sent the library a letter within 30 to have this removed/forgiven. I have checked 2 out of 3 credit agencies and there is no mention of this. Unfortunately, my bill is greater than $100 so it could effect of credit rating if it gets reported. I was going to pay them like $20. After my bill becomes under a hundred, what should I do to make sure that if I lose the appeal, that they only report $90 to the credit agencies so that my credit is not adversely affected?
    Thanks for your input.

  19. Its against the law for collection agencies to report more than what you actually owe to the credit bureaus. Because the original account did not allow for the collection of interest, there shouldn't be any extra "fees" tacked on either. Thus, paying the debt to under $100 should be enough to ensure that it doesn't slam your credit if Unique National Collections decides to start reporting to the other two credit bureaus. Best of luck. :)

  20. YJC,

    If this is recent, call the library and explain your situation. They may be willing to simply take your payment and leave it at that. Since $40 isn't enough to really damage your credit score, its perfectly acceptable to pay UNC over time. I've heard that once you pay off the debt, UNC will remove it after 12 months rather than let it linger on your credit record for seven years.

  21. My stupid library never informed me of the late charges and then charges me 10 dollars charge on top of the late charges. The material was only late a week late, so I was not one of those people who keep library materials. Green Hills Public Library in Palos Hills sucks!

  22. Sounds like people have some 'entitlement' issues, and are making excuses for not returning borrowed items, or for returning items very late after not contacting your library to renew them. Libraries have an obligation to protect the collections they hold, paid for by their comunities in one way or another. Call the library, renew your items before they're overdue, turn them in on time. One can borrow library materials for years without ever paying a dime. From my experience, libraries don't want to cause you any sort of trouble. Fines account for an incredibly miniscule amount of a typical library's operating budget.
    Also, in reference to those mentioning that a library didn't inform you of your fines or nonreturned borrowed material - it's likely because you didn't inform the library of your new address.
    Jim, KY

  23. Lee,

    In May 2005, I was in college working the graveyard shift. While I was sleeping (during the day), my roommate took my library card and rented some cds and dvds. About a year later I saw a collection for $59 under UNC and found out that I owed them. I knew it had to have been my roommate at the time because I hadn't used my library card. She admitted to it later that she'd used it and forgot to return the items before she moved to Washington state. I have no problem paying this balance. I will even donate books on top of this, but I insist that I be assured that this be removed from my credit report. How should I go about this given that I am willing to pay the balance? I realize that this will drop off this coming May, but would really like to refinance my home now!


  24. I would love to do a class action lawsuit either against the library or against the collection agency.

    For one, the library doesn't bill a patron. Secondly, if you have an item missing (as I did), the library shouldn't be able to turn over the account for collection if you've returned the materiasl and definitely not before the item is returned.

    I just spoke to the most hardhearted person named Dee over at this company and all I can do is hope that she (or some family member of hers) meets up with the same hardheartedness that she exhibited from someone who has the power to impact her life as much as she has just impacted mine.

    The only notice that her company sent of my debt was acknowledged by her to have been returned to her company and not have been received by me and yet she gave the most ridiculous line of 'well, you still had time to have paid the library'.

    What a good game that is being played. I accompanied a friend to the library and inquired on the balance of my own account. I was quoted a figure (which I paid on a subsequent visit as I had no means of payment on my person) and even at that time the library clerk never informed me that my account was in collection status.

    I would LOVE to join a class action suit and will look into starting one.

  25. These people play hardball. They remind me of the hall monitor in grade school. I would love to SUE them, even if all of the money ends up in the hands of a lawyer. If you return the books, you are at their mercy because they do little to no notification and so you have no way of knowing if they've actually made the adjustments to your account and also updated this bogus "collection" agency.

    I plan to persue this as far as possible.

  26. Rebekah, if you are willing to file an identity theft report with the police regarding this as an incident of identity theft (which it was) then federal law dictates the credit bureaus have to block the information from appearing on your credit report. This WILL have legal repercussions for your former roommate and she may just get arrested.

    Too often I get asked how to fix collections that are the result of someone else's taking and using a credit card (library card in this case, but its the same premise). You have to be willing to report the individual to the police. There are consequences for the actions we take. In your roommate's case, that may be jail time or it may be a slap on the wrist. Depends on a variety of factors not least of which is your state of residence.

  27. Lee,

    This is a great post... Thank you! But, I need some guidance based on what you said.

    I am trying to buy a house and when my wife's credit was pulled, we saw a $75 debt assigned to UNC from our local library from back in November 2009. My wife went to the library to discuss it with the librarian, but the librarian claimed she could do nothing. She said she cannot see the debt because their records don't go back that far, she can't collect payment for the debt, and she directed my wife to the collection agency.

    If it is true that UNC won't accept payment, and the library won't accept payment, how do I clear this up? Can it just go on forever? is there a point that (even if the debt is never paid) it will just disappear? Any ideas?

    Thank you for your time!


  28. Ryan,

    The collection agency can accept payment. Library policies differ, but the library is able to pull the account out of collections. They will tell you they can't, but usually that means one of two things: either the librarian does not want to go through the hassle of doing it or she doesn't know how and isn't going to bother to try.

    Paying the debt will not improve your credit score. The upside to this is that collection accounts under $100 don't hurt your credit score either. While its on your wife's credit report, the only damage its doing is making her look slightly unreliable when lenders review the report as a whole.

    Once you pay UNC, they should delete the entry after a year. That's company policy for UNC. Most collectors do not do this. Keep in mind they don't have to delete it. Legally, it can stay on her report until 2016 whether its paid or not.

    Some mortgage lenders make you pay off all collections on your report before buying a house. Some don't bother if the amount is small enough. It just depends on the lender. As far as scores go, however, this won't hurt you. The FICO scoring formula was altered in 2008 to exclude collections of less than $100 in the scoring formula.

  29. I was just wondering on how to fix my fine when i was not there in the town at the time the books were checked out. Do i call the place that it was checked out or do i was just wait til it comes off my record? Please someone explain this to me or help me.

  30. Anonymous, I'd love to point you in the right direction, but I don't know the background of your story. There are a lot of comments on this page already from "Anonymous." Any one of those could have been you. It's much easier to follow each person's situation when they post using a name – even if its a fake one.

  31. A lot of this information is completely incorrect. The company does in fact send out notices, but because they do not purchase the debt all of the information comes directly from the library. It is your RESPONSIBILITY and yours alone to let the library know when you have a new address. What do people think...the library magically just knows you moved and someone waves a wand and then poof the library has your new address? Take responsibility and update your information or don't whine when you didn't receive any notices.
    It is true that Unique is not going to call you over and over again. They are a gentle nudge agency and don't feel the need to call you 100 times a day just to keep getting your voicemail. They will leave 2 messages on your machine, if you don't check your voice mail or answer your phone then it's your fault you get credit reported because they give you plenty of time to resolve the debt. Since calls are recorded they can also see if you just hung up on someone trying to give the information to help you prevent credit reporting. Again, if you don't want to listen to someone explain how to resolve the matter you can't complain about getting credit reported.
    Unique does listen and report every dispute you have but no they will not "negotiate" with you. They do not own the debt, the library does...if you want to negotiate with someone then negotiate with them. Unique makes calls to help the library and its patrons. Their job is to make you aware of your balance so you can get it resolved not hear your sob stories or excuses as to why you aren't responsible for the debt...those are for the library. Unique works for the libraries not for you..your debt will be removed when the LIBRARY says it should be.

  32. Anonymous, You say the information is incorrect, but your main complaint is a difference of opinion as to which responsibilities belong to debtors and which belong to the library. If you work for Unique National Collections and have the time to give me an insider's view of how Unique does business I would certainly take the time to hear it and post about it.

    While some people do skirt their debts, others have no knowledge of them. As you've pointed out, the primary responsibility for notification of fees lies with the library. Given that all library policies differ, one cannot assume that all send proper notification.

    Sadly, I have yet to have a client who comes to me waving a credit report with this collection on it that has received any written notice from the company – and written notice is required under federal law.

    Just points to ponder.

  33. i owe 70 i don't have a credit card, only a debit card and I'm 17 years old with no money to pay for it. should i even bother with all of this? will this effect me ever if i don't have a credit card yet or will this be problematic enough for me to brake open the piggy bank?:(

  34. I recieved a collection from UNC for $60. Since I did not keep any matierials (They will charge you $10 a day!) I offered $20 as payment in full for this debt to the library. They cashed my check and have demanded the balance.
    The $40 will not affect my credit score, so I'm tempted not to bother with it at this point. But since they have accepted my negotiated payment I'm a little annoyed. Any thoughts/recommendations on further action?

  35. Mateo,

    Had to delete my last post since I didn't address you by name and I didn't want any confusion here. Yes, it will be problematic enough to break open the piggy bank. Being a minor doesn't protect you in this case. Don't risk ending up with a collection on your credit report. Pay off the debt before that happens.

  36. Anonymous,

    If you got that "payment in full" in writing, they don't have a choice. They can't come after you for the remaining balance because there IS no remaining balance. Take that paperwork up to the library administrator and raise you-know-what.

    If it was just a library employee telling you it was payment in full then you're probably out of luck. If this is the case, count yourself as lucky for learning this lesson over $60 and not $6000. It could have been worse. And you can still complain to the head of the department.

  37. Jim

    I am in the process of refinancing my house and I received a credit report with a $16.00 unpaid balance from Unique National Collec. Th eonly problem is i have never had a Library account. Can i check this account number that is on the report anyplace to see what they are talking about or who it is? Or a phone number i can call so I can ask some one?

  38. Jim, (I am assuming that is your name since it isn't mine)

    Yes, call the collection agency. They should give you the name of the library that holds the account. Take it up with the library. If you've never had a library card, this could just be a case of mistaken identity.

    Just for reference, that shouldn't hurt your chances of refinancing. At $16.00, it doesn't even hurt your credit (and yes you dissenters, that is true). I've seen mortgage lenders laugh their asses off at collection accounts from UNC, so don't lose any sleep over it.

  39. I owed $150 in fees to the library and received a notice from UNC. I went to the library and spoke to the desk clerk who said it was because of lost materials but I was sure I had returned them and ignored the notice. It turned out I still had the books. I immediately returned them and thought the fines would be waved but instead they escalated to $290. I called inquiring about the notice but they were rude and said to call UNC. What should I do? I can't afford to pay that I'm only 15 and still in high school. I keep hearing this will affect my credit. I'm scared about my credit future. Who could help me? I'm skeptical about calling UNC because I doubt they will help me. Someone please help?

    1. If you are only 15, those debts should not affect you. You don't mention what state you are in, but minors generally cannot enter into a legally binding contract. No binding contract – no credit report damage. Odds are you don't even have a credit record. Should a collection account appear on your credit report, disputing it on account of your age is an option to consider.

    2. Thank you Lee, I'm from the state of California. I'll keep in mind the advice you've given me. Still I'm a little worried. I've been stressing about this for weeks. Any other recommendations? Thank you once again for this valuable advice.

  40. Hey Lee,

    I just got a notice informing me that I must respond within thirty days or it could have an impact on my credit. I live in SC and the balance is 180ish... If I just go pay the amount will it hit my credit or will the library inform them they no longer need to pursue this debt. I am closing on a house the 28th and just don't want any dings before that... No excuses my adress was wrong so the library sent the notes to my old address and the books are in my trunk...!

  41. If you got a collection letter stating that the entry *could* affect your credit if you do not respond within 30 days, that generally means that you have 30 days to pay the debt before Unique National Collections reports it to the credit bureaus. In that case, you can avoid any credit damage by paying the account. If I were you, I'd make absolutely certain to get it in writing that if you pay off the debt it will not be reported. Collection agencies aren't the most ethical of companies, and some will report the debt anyway – even after you pay it.

  42. Lee should I wait till I close on my house, the reason I ask is If they update it as paid to the credit agencies it will ding my credit scores. Im sure even if it does I will be fine but I am buying my house on just my credit and income and want to make sure everything flys through... to add context my conditional approval was already accepted by the underwritter we are simply waiting for the walk through and to close on the house in 9 days. I received the letter and it was dated 2/15 with a 30 day requirment... i close 2/28.


  43. They will update it as paid, but that no longer dings your scores. Prior to 2009, if you paid an old collection account and the collector updated it as "paid" that would update the entire trade line. Because more recent credit entries carry more weight in the scoring system, paying old collections would lower your credit score.

    This was a problem Fair Isaac was aware of and it has been remedied in the current scoring formula. Paying off UNC won't hurt your credit, even when they update the account. So go ahead and close on your house. Congratulations on your new home. :)

  44. lee i have to pay 81 dollars i'm only 13 years old and i dont know what to do

  45. lee i owe $80 to queens library in late fees and unique already sent me two letters saying that the might report it to national credit reporting agencies but I'm only 13 years old

  46. lee my name is owel and i owe $81 dollars to queens library in new york but i dont have the money i'm only 13

  47. Lee:

    How do you know UNC will remove the negative entry after paid? You mentioned that the removal of the paid negative entry was a UNC "company policy," do you have any more details on this and is this based on first-hand experience?

  48. My son is a college freshman and we just got a copy of his credit report after our bank indicated that he had some "bad credit". Given that his father and stepmother have filed bankruptcy twice and have made a mess of their own credit, we were worried that maybe they had accrued some debt using my son's identity. Turns out this so-called "bad credit" is ONE item in collections and it's from this Unique National Collections. Apparently the stepmom had used my son's library card to check out a bunch of DVDs for her own kids and didn't return them for quite some time. (She used my son's card because she wasn't allowed to have one under her own name.) So the debt is listed as starting out at $426 in Nov 2008 (my son was 15 at that time) and an ending balance as of March 2009 of $58, so I'm guessing she returned the DVDs because I highly doubt she made any payments.

    My question now is how can we get this off of his credit? He's a responsible young man who is already paying his own medical bills on time so that he can maintain good credit but it's already being jeopardized because of this library account. I supposed he could just pay the $58 just to make it go away but a) that's a lot of money to a college student and b) he shouldn't have to pay off a debt that he didn't "earn" and that was accrued when he was only 15.

  49. Have them send you the settlement offer IN WRITING. Open a new checking account at your bank. Put only the amount of money in the account that you need to make the payment each month and pay out of that account
    Collection agencies

  50. I have been dealing with library fines and recieving letters from Unique Collections for three weeks now. I was mis-informed at the circulation desk that if I paid the overdue fines the collection fee would be waived. This was not true. I paid the $15 fee today still within the 30 day period so hopefully this will not end up on my credit report but the whole experience has been so time consuming, confusing and frustrating that I will never use a library again. It seems to me that the libraries using Unique Collections are shooting themselves in the foot. I believe they receive funding based on number of patrons and using these collection tactics, that frankly smell illegal, is going to make people reluctant to use the library resulting in fewer patrons resulting in less funding.

  51. The New York Public Library consists of despicable cretins who stigmatize and victimize their friends and supporters. Do not support the New York Public Library, until and unless they forswear using Unique National Collections.

  52. How can Unique report the unpaid debt to the credit bureaus, when the library does not have your social security number? All that has ever been required for me to get a library is a photo id and proof of address. I am very curious how this works. I recently received a collections letter from Unique. I do not have any lost items, I accrued some late fees on three dvd's (traveled out of town with them - left them out of town- mailed them back--three weeks over-due). My collection amount is less than $20. I paid half of it on the library's website thinking they would leave me alone, but no they continue to pursue me. Does anyone know how Unique is able to report unpaid debt, without your SS #?

  53. Does anyone know how Unique can report unpaid debts to the credit bureaus when the library does not have your social security number on file? All that has ever been required for me to get a library card is photo i.d. and proof of address. Unique is after me over some late fees, my library must be hurting for money because my balance is $19. I am really annoyed and will do whatever I need to avoid paying, since my items were returned. Does Unique continue to pursue debts under $20? Thanks in advance. :-) Also, how much does an unpaid $19 debt ding your credit?

  54. Lee,

    I am a college student who took out tons of books and dvds planning to read them and never did because of school I neglected to return them on time. Once I returned them, I had 125 due which I paid off today. I have the receipt. When I spoke to someone at Unique when they called a few months ago, they said if it was paid off before September 30, 2012, it would not go on my credit. However, when I spoke to the couldn't be bothered librarian today, he said that it already was on my credit. Is that true? Was I misinformed? I tried calling the agency to speak to someone but of course its Saturday. Is it true that they remove the report from my credit a year after, because, I'm not buying a house or investing in anything for a while so I think I'd be okay. I have a debit card and a Macy's card, I don't plan on opening another credit card so is this still an issue?

  55. I have excellent credit and owe $108 to Unique for library books from 2007. What's funny is the way it affects my score - they only listed the debt on Experian and Transunion, not Equifax. Therefore, my Equifax score (FICO) is a 766 but my Experian and Transunion credit scores are 706 and 698. This was just communicated to me by my mortgage broker (I'm trying to refi and he recommended trying to get this removed - hence, my google search). Even he agreed that the score differential was ridiculous for a $100 collection account. Everything else on my credit reports matched up and there is no other derogatory items listed. What I want to know is how to fight the scoring practices of these credit reporting companies. I find 60 points to be a bit much, especially when everything else on the report is excellent. But thanks for the advice on Unique - I'm going to call the librarian to set up a meeting this weekend.

  56. What if the library and UNC has your name spelled incorrectly?

    1. In most cases a misspelled name doesn't halt collection activity. What happens is that the collection agency reports the account to the credit bureaus and the misspelling appears on your credit report under your list of "alternate names" or "aliases." I can't remember what they're categorizing it as these days. As long as their other info is correct, such as your address and SSN, they can still prove that the account is yours. If its a particularly grievous spelling error, however, it certainly merits a dispute.

  57. Hi Lee,

    I actually received a delete letter from UNC. It reads as follows:

    Dear JB,

    This letter should serve as notification that the account listed above with the Glendale Public Library and Unique National Collections has been removed from the credit report of (me). I am in the process of contacting the consumer reporting agencies regarding this account.

    If you have any questions or are in need of additional information, please feel free to contact our office.You may also want to dispute the account directly with the credit bureaus.


    Shannon Daley

    My question is: Should I dispute the account online or through mail? Also, will disputing make a difference in terms of how fast an account will be deleted?


  58. Don't dispute this debt! The letter you were sent expressly stated that this Shannon Daley person was contacting the credit bureaus and having the debt removed from your credit report. There is no need to do anything else. You already won. Congratulations!

  59. Hello Lee,

    I have a $990 unique national collection on my credit report because My library card was stolen when someone broke into my car on my 21st bday in downtown. Over the next 2days they checked out 53 things at the central library using my card n the self check out, which I have never visited or used in all my years owning my library card, and I have never exceeded 3 books at a time.
    I first was made aware of this about 2 wks after this happened when I was returning my book that I borrowed n they asked me for the other 50+ at MY neighborhood library, n that wen I figured out it was stolen I told them, they told me to talk to central, they told me to pay, n I refused bc they didn't do enough to stop this.
    Now I just turned 24, saw this in my credit report, called the credit bureau to dispute and am waiting. I'm trying to buy a new car and this is the only negatitive I have on my report.

    Is there anything you could suggest I should do next?

    1. Yes! I know that when your car was broken into you filed a police report, right? Contact the credit bureaus, explain that your identity was stolen and provide a copy of the police report. You are not legally responsible for debts incurred as a result of identity theft. Under federal law, the credit bureaus must block any negative items that result from identity theft from your credit report and cannot include them in your scores. I would do the same with the library.

  60. Hi Lee,
    My husband and I are refinancing our house, and today we received a copy of our credit scores from the mortgage company. My husband's scores were great, and my Equifax score was 761, but the others were 682 and 678, and the only difference is the fines from unique on those reports. I paid my library fees in November, which were well under the $117 that unique says I previously owed, and while my balance due with unique is listed as 0, the account type is listed as "open" with transunion, but as "closed" with experian. It seems like a very large discrepancy between the three scores, with this being the only difference. Is there anything I can do, or am I stuck because I have already paid the debt? I guess we might not qualify for the interest rate we thought we were initially told we would get, is there anything I can do?
    Thanks so much for providing all of the information here, I was really confused after reading my reports, and this has helped a lot.

  61. I have heard from multiple debtors that Unique has a policy that other collection agencies don't – they'll delete their trade line one year after you pay in full. Of course, once you've paid they don't have to do anything for you. So, if it were me, I'd call, speak with a supervisor, explain the situation and ask about the removal policy. Unique, for some bizarre reason that I don't understand, doesn't consider itself a "collection agency." This means they have somewhat decent customer service. Remember, if you get a rude person who won't work with you, keep calling back. You should get a different rep each time.

    If it turns out to be true, the worst case scenario is that you have to wait until the trade line comes off to buy your house. Believe me, no matter how badly you want to do it now, its NOT worth the higher interest rate or having to pay closing costs on a refinance a few years down the road. If its less than a year, it makes much more financial sense to just wait it out.

    Whether the account is listed as "open" or "closed" makes no difference. What is disconcerting is if the account is listed as "paid" with one credit bureau and unpaid with another.

    If Unique plans to let its negative trade line sit on your credit report for the next seven years, you can always dispute it with the credit bureaus. Sometimes collection agencies don't bother validating disputes for paid-off accounts. Keep in mind as well that the older the debt is, the less it impacts your scores. So your credit score should improve as time passes, even if Unique won't remove its black mark.

    Best of luck,

  62. I am being dunned for a lost item. I _KNOW_ I put it in the slot at a particular branch, but "just in case," I searched the house and it is not there. I intend to send UNC and the library a letter repeating this fact (third time?) and and demanding that they not report otherwise to anyone.
    -- WWG

  63. I am hoping you can answer a question about my credit report. For my UNC collection, the High Credit is listed as $123, but the Balance and Past Due Amount are both listed as $99. Why would these numbers be different? And which one is used by FICO to determine my score? The $99 is below the magic $100 cut-off but the other is above it.

    1. My guess is your original fine was $123 and you paid a portion of it, thus bringing it down to $99. Its the $99 that is used to calculate your FICO. Keep in mind that there are different versions of the FICO formula. Only the newest version ignores collections under $100. If a bank pulls an older version it will still ding your scores. I'm not telling you this to upset you. I'm telling you this so that, if it happens, you don't get infuriated with me for not giving you ample warning.

  64. UNC just showed up on my credit report for $58 and my credit score now dropped 26 pts! How can I fix this?

    1. UNC will generally delete paid in full debts from your credit report after one year. I would call them, get that in writing and pay it off.

  65. Hey lee, its Lizbeth here.. you probably already answered this question somewhere around here but I just wanted to know if the materials from the library were returned, will any fees still apply coming fromUNC or library or however its suppose to work? Thanks!

    1. That would depend on the library's policy but returning items doesn't generally result in the fee being waived. You still owe your late fee, regardless of whether or not you give the books back. If the library charges you a fee for replacing the book and you then return it, they will sometimes waive that particular charge.

  66. Hi There - Thank you for your great write up about Unique, I know this post is very old but is a great source of information for most people. I just wanted to share my experience (last week) and possibly you could update the main post to add this strategy as well.

    I had a Library debt (library in Long Island, NY) that was showing up on credit report for Experian and Transunion. I decided to just dispute with bureaus and see what would happen. With Experian Unique validated the debt but oddly enough Transunion actually deleted it. However I wanted it off completely so I had more work to do.

    I first called Unique and asked them their policy to find out if their is any way to work out "pay to remove" and they said their policy is that if you pay the debt they will mark it as paid for 1 year and then it will come off, but they refused to remove earlier. I said thats not good enough, and asked how can I get it removed now? They answered of course that the only way to get it removed is if the library specifically requests to have it removed from collections.

    I then called the library branch and asked to speak to whomever deals with their collection accounts. I spoke to this lady and asked her if she could remove it. Of course at first she answers the classic "dumb answer" that as soon as I pay it she will update unique that the debt was paid and they will remove. I then nicely explained to her that I just spoke to Unique and explained to her that their policy is to keep on for a full year and that I really want to remove NOW. I then kissed up a lot explaining how we moved and never got notices blah blah blah and that I would be more than happy to pay the money owed but only if she can get it removed from my report for me. She then took down my phone # and said she would have to call Unique and see "what they advise". At this point I wasn't very hopeful...

    However she called me back like half hour later with GREAT NEWS!! She said she spoke to Unique and they said that the only way to remove it was for her to get it removed from my report was for her to fax them an EXPUNGE request form. This lady happened to be nice and was like "if you pay then it is only right for it to be removed now from your report". So I worked out with her that I would pay the library fines in full online and then she agreed as soon as that showed in her system she would fax this EXPUNGE REQUEST to Unique and fax me a copy as well. At this point I developed some trust with her, so I went ahead and paid it and she followed through and sent me a copy of the fax to Unique.

    I called Unique to verify and they said that they did receive it and that they update the credit bureau's twice a month and that it should be coming off the credit report as of September 9th. Obviously if they don't remove it now, I have perfect proof to send to the bureau to remove it, but I assume that Unique will follow through at this point because they have to.

    So now if anyone needs to get it off and the people at the library are incompetent you can just tell the library to ask for an expunge request form from Unique and that as soon as you pay it see if they will fill that out saying that there is no debt owed (by me the librarian wrote "books found on shelf" which is true because I did return them eventually they were just late :)) and have them send to Unique and ask them to send you a copy as well for your records.

    I was lucky that this was a library out on Long Island where the staff is generally mellow and helpful, I honestly am not so confident I would have had such positive results had this been a library in NYC...

    Hope this helps others out!!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that. I will update my original blog post to reflect your strategy. Hopefully this will help others in the same situation.

    2. Hi Lee,

      I just found out about some library fines thanks to checking my credit for the first time. UNC says I owe $60, but the library statement says I owe $55.50. What should I do about this discrepancy? I intend to pay the fine and then have the library "expunge" the record as others have described, but I want to be sure that the amount is correct.


  67. We had just moved to a new city a year ago and with our four children have been excited at the prospect of purchasing our first home these last few months. While in the temporary housing my wife had checked out books for the kids from the local library, which were misplaced during the move to an apartment. A few months later she received a notice from UNC for $150 in fines. She was able to finally find and return the books and they reduced some of the lost book fines down to $101. After returning the lost books she had made arrangements with the library to pay off the remaining fines, and she made monthly payments of $20. Even though a repayment plan was agreed upon, the library never closed the UNC account. She received UNC notices and was confused since they said make payment arrangements with the library. The library told her to just keep making payments. Even though she had made arrangements to pay the library, her fines were reported to the credit bureaus by UNC in Feb listing the original $150 (the remaining balance at that time was $40 which was later paid off in March). Unfortunately, when we had her credit pulled for pre-approval in June for a home loan we were surprised and frustrated to receive news that her credit score had been significantly lowered due to the library's collection report to the credit bureaus for the library fines. We have spent the last few months trying to resolve this issue of her credit score and haven't gotten anywhere and this will impact the our home loan. Both UNC and the library say it's not their problem and won't do anything else. All this over library fines, which we were happy and had made arrangements to pay. Only thoughts now are to let some of the local media know the process the library is using to collect fines. Maybe it'll bring some attention to the issue and hopefully prevents someone else from having to go through a similar experience.

  68. I am sort of confused about the second way to dispute. Why the *lightning fast8 is so important. Why wont it work to just get the library to say no debt exists, then dispute it? So that when Experian tries to authenticate, if UNC cant find a debt why wont this work?

  69. I have an account in collections with UNC and this a useful post. Thanks. I returned the book but the library can't find it, and I really don't want to pay it, so here I am looking for other strategies. You've suggested that there may be cases where the library cannot or will not validate the debt, and these may be the cases in which UNC hides behind a loophole and refuses to validate for the person whose credit is taking a hit. So then the following occurs to me: if the library won't validate the debt and UNC won't validate the debt with you, they probably won't validate it for the credit reporting agency either when you submit a dispute. I think it's probably worth disputing all debts from UNC if you really did return the item to the library. The dispute could simply state, "This is a debt from a public library and I have returned all books I borrowed. The collection agency refuses to verify this debt, as required by the FDCPA." Such a statement would be both completely true (if you really did return the book, and hopefully you did) and have the advantage of mentioning a potential legal issue with the way UNC collects debts which perhaps the credit rating agency would recognize. I haven't tried this yet, but I'm about to. I bet it has about a 50% chance of working. The whole point is that if UNC won't validate the debt with you and attempts to hide behind a loophole, it's probably because they probably can't validate the debt, and the info will probably be taken off your credit report if you dispute... I'm about to test this theory out. Hoping for the best!

    1. Mike, let us know the results when you try this. I've heard through the grapevine that UNC claims they aren't bound by the FDCPA (something about being a non-traditional collection agency) and thus are not required to respond to validation requests. That's just what I heard. It would be nice to have some proof one way or the other.

    2. So UNC was reporting to both Experian and TransUnion, and thus far Experian has responded that they're refusing to remove the mark on my credit. Ugh. We'll see what TU does. There's one other thing I've noticed regarding this whole situation, and it's kind of important. I was thinking that this account would not affect my credit score because it's under $100, but I just applied for a HELOC and in the process received my credit score, which was lower than I was expecting (and no longer high enough to get the best interest rates). The only possible reason is this collection account. While it does seem that the latest scoring model, FICO 08, ignores accounts like this, I can pretty much guarantee you that at least my lender is not using that model. Something for people to be aware of if they think a small collections account for an unreturned (or lost-by-the-library) book won't affect their credit.

    3. A lot of lenders are still using FICO classic which, unfortunately, does take collections under $100 into account. Have you tried discussing this with the library? And I don't mean the peon at the desk, but the person actually in charge of collecting fines and outsourcing accounts?

  70. I did have the library do a search for the book, which they didn't find, but I haven't actually tried to speak to the head librarian or anything. I'm honestly pretty discouraged about those prospects when they simply claim they don't have the book, and I should mention that I'm dealing with the LA public library and I have some strong doubts about how far out of their way they'll go to help me. If it were a smaller institution where I thought they'd be likely to believe my story, I probably would have done exactly that right off...

    1. If you've got any lawyer friends I have enough Xanax in my system to have just come up with an absolutely insidious do you?

    2. Hahaha... yes, I'm very interested in hearing about this!

    3. I'm willing to bet they'd find the book with a quickness if they were to receive an "intent to sue" letter based on sending you to collections for a book you already returned. I'm pretty sure you could argue fraud for that. But, of course, its just an empty threat....but libraries just don't get intent to sue letters very often, and it could just make the problem go away. Another the news media for a local interest story on the abusive library. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Make enough of a nuisance of yourself and they're liable to clear your account just to make you go away. This is one of those times that I regret not living closer to one of my readers...we could have some real fun with those people. Stuffy librarians are some of my favorite people to shake up. :)

    4. Ha, actually something like this occurred to me as well. It is important for me to protect my credit score and I really did return the book, so I just might try this. Thanks for the advice. I'll write back with the results if I do end up going the "threaten the librarian" route, haha.

  71. I am panicking. I just received a letter from Unique telling me I owe $82 for three unreturned lubrary books taken out by my 4 year old son. I returned the books IMMEDIATELY, and plan on calling the librarian Monday morning to discuss it. Will my credit be hit for children's books? I found a Time article that stated Unique cannot send a debt to collections for a child's or parent of the child, with overdue fees. Is this true??

    1. I don't know what the exact situation was and I haven't read the TIME article (I did search for it without success), but I have trouble believing that the parent wouldn't be legally responsible for the debts of their minor child. If your child threw a rock through your neighbor's window and you refused to replace it, the neighbor could take you to court for your child's actions. The same logic should apply here.

      However...and this is a big "however," laws don't always make sense but they do almost always vary from state to state, so its entirely possible that some states would prohibit collectors from reporting a minor child's debt to the parent's credit bureau. If you could post the URL of the TIME article, I'd like to read that and see exactly what angle they're coming from, because that just don't click with me.

      The good news is that the most recent version of FICO doesn't take debts under $100 into consideration. The bad news is that lenders can use any version of FICO that they please. It doesn't have to be the latest one.

      Your biggest problem isn't UNC. Your problem is that somewhere along the line the library made a grievous error. What did the librarian say? You may also consider asking for the exact book listing numbers for the books that were supposedly unreturned--then go look for them on the shelves. If they're there, photograph them and inform the librarian that the books are where they should be and they have no choice but to call off the dogs.

      Don't let the library tell you that once the debt has been sold to UNC there is nothing they can do. That's their default claim, and its a complete and utter lie. Anytime a creditor sends a debt to collections they retrain the right to pull the account back in the event of an error.

      If you read this TIME article online and you get a chance, please come back and post the URL. I'm very curious to review these claims that parent's aren't responsible for their kids' library fines. Perhaps it has something to do with the actual name on the library card that the book was checked out under....