Debt collectors are a relentless bunch. But they actually work within parameters set by the law. So if you’ve been pursued by one, there are steps you can take to make your experience a bit easier. They don’t have to ruin your day or call you at ungodly hours.
Here are 4 ways to deal with debt collectors:
1. Check the Facts
If your account has been passed on to a collection agency—and then another—be mindful about the correctness of your data. Different parties may have kept your records differently, and there’s a chance the amount is wrong or even the debtor. Make sure you also have your paper trail (stored digitally or physically). Then validate the facts and figures they’re presenting to you.
Performing your due diligence is necessary to avoid paying more than what you’re supposed to. If you even have as small a hunch that something isn’t right, don’t be afraid to put your foot forward.
2. Give As Little Information As Possible
Make sure to give as little information as possible when you speak with a debt collector. Don’t provide a date of payment. Don’t give out payment details. Most importantly, do not be forced to pay. If you pay even just a portion of the debt, the statute of limitations will be reset.
Know that debt collectors will create a sense of urgency to make you give in. Instead of getting pressured, do step #1. And keep a record of the interactions that you have with the agent. There are also things they cannot do, so be aware of your rights.
3. Know Your Rights
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides you with plenty of rights. You may check out all of the rules, but you can also go through a few basics below:
- You can determine the time and manner by which the debt collector will communicate with you, or that they cease to do so altogether, which they should follow with a few exceptions.
- Debt collectors cannot threaten you with the use of violence or use obscene or profane language when communicating with you.
- They cannot continue to collect payment within 30 days of the date you filed a dispute.
- They cannot mislead or deceive you to force you to pay.
4. Do Not Be Afraid to Negotiate
Debt collectors are trying to hit a quota. With that, they will take any amount they can get. So when you’ve done your due diligence, you can then settle for paying less than the full amount at first. See if you can agree on a payment scheme that will be favorable to your situation. You can work out a gradual increase in the percentage of payment.
Make sure to put everything into writing. Ask them to send you a written version of the deal.
Armed with this knowledge, you can deal with debt collectors better when they start running after you. Make sure to follow some rules of decency yourself. These people are just doing their job. But don’t let them harass you into settling your debt, too.