Verizon debt and CBE Group?

When I was 19 or 20, I opened a Verizon account at Best Buy. Unfortunately, I was swayed to open it by an ex-boyfriend (who I'm no longer with) who promised to make the payments. When the first payment came in and was almost $900, he refused and we turned off the service. However, we kept the phones because my... show more When I was 19 or 20, I opened a Verizon account at Best Buy. Unfortunately, I was swayed to open it by an ex-boyfriend (who I'm no longer with) who promised to make the payments. When the first payment came in and was almost $900, he refused and we turned off the service. However, we kept the phones because my ex reassured me we could without penalty.

When we signed up at Best Buy, I never got a copy of the contract. When I called to cancel the Verizon service, they basically shut it off without hesitation and said everything was 'good.' I even paid the early close-out fee to be DONE with Verizon.

Now I am 23 years old (and wiser). I recently graduated from college and am living with my dad, although I'm hoping to move out within 4-6 months. Just trying to save money. HOWEVER.... I started getting harassing phone calls from CBE Group who does Verizon collections. I ended up speaking up a collector and they said, "In the contract it states you cannot keep the phones. You also didn't pay the closing account fee. You owe us $2500."

This news literally made my stomach drop. I looked up my credit score and it's SO LOW because of this collections agency. I called CBE back and they said my only option is to make monthly payments of about $250 to pay it off. I explained I never got a contract and was never told about returning the phones, and that I closed the account properly. They basically responded with, "Too bad." I told them I would try to make payments but I'm currently dealing with student loans and more, while making minimum wage. They seemed okay with that, and the phone calls have stopped.

Do I actually NEED to repay these people? Will if affect my credit score until I do? I don't want to wait "7 years until it drops off my credit report" because that seems so far away and I'd like to move on with my life in that time. If I do make the minimum payments per month, will my credit score begin to rise, or will my score get better only once my whole balance is paid off?
Update: When I spoke to the CBE collections agent over the phone, I asked if he would send me the repayment plan IN WRITING BY MAIL. That was probably 3 months ago and I've never received a letter with those details. If these people really want my money and for me to repay, shouldn't they be more professional?
Update 2: I also called Verizon and they said they had no record of my account or that I owe anything.
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