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Is your phone ringing day and night with collectors? Do you feel over your head? More than ever, consumers in America are faced with debt collection calls, foreclosures and bankruptcy. So how do you deal with debt collectors? Here’s a run-down of what you need to do.
The first step to take is to educate yourself and know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission has released a number of publications that are designed to educate the public about their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
If you’re receiving harassing phone calls, calls in the middle of the night, or threats and abusive language from collectors you should report these calls to the FTC and your state attorney general.
It’s also important to confront debt head-on. Don’t ignore phone calls and debt collection letters. If the debt isn’t yours, for example, you have the right to send a written request for verification of debt within 30 days of being contacted by a collection agency.
Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Instead, it’ll pop up on your credit report and stay there for seven whole years.
Keeping records and copies of everything is also necessary. Documents that show proof of a settlement or a resolution of the debt should be kept safe on case a problem ever arises–and it very well may.
Also, avoid giving your bank account information to debt collectors. Use money orders and not a personal check to pay. Electronic withdrawals are also advised against.
If possible, record your conversations, especially if threats and abusive language is used. Some states require the other party’s permission to record so make sure you check with your state. Simply informing a debt collection agency that the call will be recorded may put an end to the abuse.
Lastly, get everything in writing and only use certified mail.
Any agreements you make with a debt collection agency needs to be done in writing. This confirms the agreement and should be received–signed by a representative of the debt collector–before you send any payment.
All correspondence with the debt collectors should be done via certified mail as well. This gives you a receipt as proof that your letter was received.
These steps are all designed to protect your rights and best interest.
Make sure you know your rights and have proof of everything that relates to the debt, including correspondence, payment receipts and proof of the debt itself. This will prevent misunderstands and errors in the future and make the experience easier to deal with.