How to Handle Debt Collectors & Creditors
Have you ever forgotten or been unable to pay a bill and had it go to collection? It happens from time to time, but there is no need to panic. When you are dealing with debt collectors and creditors, you still have rights due to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you are dealing with such issues, there are a few things that you need to know when debt collectors and creditors come knocking at your door or calling you on the phone.
- Request the Information in Writing: A debt collector, within five days of contacting you, is required to provide you with written notice stating the creditor they are collecting for, the amount that you owe the creditor, and what action you can take if you feel that you do not owe the money. Do not rely on them to tell you over the phone. Instead, request that their communication with you be in writing.
- Dispute the Debt in Writing if You do Not Think You Owe it: If you feel that you do not owe the money, within 30 days of receiving their written notice of the debt, send them a written notice saying that you do not owe the money. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself and send the letter by certified mail, so you have proof that they received it.
- Keep Records of All Messages and Phone Calls: It is important that you document all phone calls that are made and keep all written correspondence to and from the debt collector. Write down the time and date of every call, whom you spoke to, and the summary of the conversation. Also save any voicemails that the creditor may leave.
- Understand Restrictions of Debt Collectors: When a creditor calls you, there are certain things they can and can not do. They can not harass you with repeated calls, use obscene or abusive language, call you at work if you have asked them not to, call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., talk to anyone but you or your attorney about the collection, falsely claim to be a law enforcement officer or attorney, or threaten to garnish your wages or sue you unless they actually intend to do it.
- Stand Firm and Keep Your Conversations Short: When a debt collector calls they are interrogating you. They are trying to decide if you have the ability to pay the debt, so say as little as possible. Stay calm and stick to the facts regardless of what they say.
- Negotiate with Them: Debt collectors are trying to get any payment they can get, which means they are likely to work out a deal with you and take less than the full amount of money that is due. Before paying the reduced amount, however, get the details of the deal sent to you in writing. Once you receive a written confirmation of the agreement, then you can send in your payment. Be sure to pay the debt in a cashier’s check instead of a personal check because you do not want them to have access to your bank account.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney
If you still have questions about what your rights are when it comes to dealing with collection agencies, we can help. Contact the Cornwell Law Firm and schedule a consultation today to speak with an attorney who is experienced in debt collection and knows what your legal rights are.