Are you being contacted by debt collection agencies? Just because a debt collector says you owe a debt, this doesn’t mean you have to pay them, especially if you never opened the account you owe money for. The statute of limitations for your state might also have expired, which gives them less leverage.
These tips will help you deal with debt collectors:
There are rules debt collectors have to follow.
- They cannot harass you.
- They must state that they are debt collectors.
- They cannot call before 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M.
- You can request that a collector stop contacting you by sending them a letter with your request. Pay for a return receipt to ensure they received it.
Ask for written validation that you owe the debt.
- This document should show how much you owe and where the debt comes from. Debt collectors are legally required to notify you in writing and you should request this notice if you haven’t received it yet.
- Do not volunteer any information besides what a debt collector already has.
Respond to the validation.
- If a collection agency violates your rights, your best option is to contact your state’s Attorney General Office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report them.
Communicate in writing.
- Communicate with collectors in writing, since the debt will only be alleged and anything you say over the phone could be understood as an acknowledgement of the money you owe.
Check your credit report.
- Request a credit report to go over what you owe and ensure you actually opened the account in question.
Send a goodwill letter.
- You can try to have the debt cancelled by sending a goodwill letter to explain why you cannot pay a debt, state that you paid off a debt but it was sent to collections anyway, or simply explain that a debt was sent to collections because you paid most of it but missed a payment.
- You can usually negotiate with debt collectors. Tell them how much you would like to settle for.
- Collection agencies usually pay pennies on the dollar to purchase a debt and will settle for a lot less than what you owe.
Follow up with a safety net.
- Get something in writing from the collection agency stating that they will delete your debt once they receive your payment.
- Send a cashier’s check or a money order instead of providing a debt collector with your bank account number.
Clarify which debt you are paying.
- If you make payment to a debt collector, keep in mind that you have control over which debt the payment is applied to. Specify in writing which debt you are paying for.
- You don’t have to make payments for debts you don’t think you owe, even if the same agency has multiple debts on one account.
Debt collectors are people too. If you do owe a debt, they will often work with you to make a reasonable settlement a success.