Most people make a big mess out of dealing with the debt collector and don’t know what their fair debt collection rights are. Dealing with a debt collector isn’t so much about learning how to beat the debt collector as it is just understanding what the debt collector can and can’t do.
Remember, debt collectors have received credit card debt collection training and are professionals and unless you are a repeat debtor, you’re a rank amateur at this game.
The best way to deal with debt collections is to be cool, organized and cordial. There is no reason to lose your temper or raise you voice to the debt collector. If the debt collector is doing abusive stuff like using abusive language or engaging in debt collection on a bankrupt account, then you can pull out the big guns.
And don’t be afraid to ask to speak to a supervisor if you feel you are being treated poorly. It is just one of the duties of debt collection manager. Just remember that great advice though, be nice, be cool and be cordial.
Let the debt collector know what you can and can’t promise. And NEVER make a payment promise that you can’t keep. It is much better to over-deliver than over-promise.
But you still need to know your rights. “Most people are not aware of their rights. And unfortunately debt collectors take advantage of that fact,” says Joe Ridout of Consumer Action.
Here’s some expert advice on how to fight back against unethical collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay your legitimate debt. But here are some basic rights:
A debt collector cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.
You cannot be contacted at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves.
If you don’t want to hear from a debt collector, write a cease and desist letter to debt collector letter telling them to stop. By law, they have to. Remember, the debt won’t go away and you can still be sued.
The debt collector can contact your attorney — if you have one. If not, your friends and family can be asked about how to get in touch with you. If the collection pressure is getting to be too much, talk to a lawyer.
A debt collector can’t misrepresent the amount of your debt.
A debt collector also cannot use profane or threatening language
Debt collectors can’t say that they will put a lien on your property or file a lawsuit unless the agency really means to do that and it’s legal.
Collectors can’t legally claim federal benefits, such as Social Security or your retirement accounts, like your IRA or 401(k).
Once you’re contacted by phone, you have the right to get a notice that outlines your debt, whom you owe money to, and what action to take if you don’t owe the money. Keep in mind that a debt collector can collect a debt owed by an ex-spouse. If the debt was incurred while you married, you may be liable for the debt after a divorce even if the divorce papers state your spouse is responsible for paying off the debt.
If you’ve been contacted by a debt collector, but you don’t think you owe a debt, you must write a return letter stating that the debt is not yours within 30 days. Once a collector receives your letter, they should send you proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill. Don’t be coerced into paying a debt you don’t owe. If you do pay just to get rid of the debt collectors, it’s an admission of guilt, and it will have a negative impact on your credit score.
If you still feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, consider enrolling in a debt management plan to get the debt collector off your back while you figure out how to best deal with the situation. Who knows, maybe your find a debt consolidation loan to save you or have to resort to going to the court house to file bankruptcy.