Most debt collectors are probably great husbands or wives, are good to their children, volunteer for good causes, and are nice all-around people – when they’re not at work.
Unfortunately, once these people go to work, all that niceness often vanishes. Debt collectors are almost always paid on a commission basis – or a percentage of whatever they can collect. This is serious motivation for them to say and do whatever is necessary to get you to pay up. In fact, if you’re contacted by a debt collector, the best way to think of it as if a German Shepherd has gotten ahold of your leg and won’t let go.
Of course, it’s easy to get that German Shepherd let go. All you need to do is pay the debt collector whatever he demands. And in some cases that might actually be your best option. But In most cases, it won’t be. So, you need to know these six good tips for dealing with a debt collector, especially if he comes becomes abusive.
1. Learn your rights
A few years ago, our Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It spells out very specifically what debt collectors can and can’t do. If you’re being harassed by a debt collector, you need to know your rights. For example, debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 AM or after 9 PM at night. They also cannot contact you at work unless you’ve given them your permission. They can’t contact family members to discuss your debt, and theoretically, they can’t be abusive. Go to this site, to learn about your rights when it comes to debt collectors, so that you can stand up for yourself.
2. Make sure it’s really your debt
If you’ve never made a mistake in your life, you must be some kind of a Saint. And debt collection agencies are no Saints. When you’re first contacted by a collector, be sure to get the debt verified. The debt collector has 30 days to do this. If it turns out it’s not your debt, don’t dillydally. Get it fixed. A debt collector can put negative information on your credit reports that will stay there for seven years. This can affect your ability to get an auto loan, a mortgage, other loans or cheaper insurance.
3. Protect your bank accounts
If you refuse to pay a debt collection agency, it could sue you, and ask the court to freeze your checking or savings accounts. As you can imagine, this would have a very severe effect on your family finances. What experts advise is to create separate accounts for things such as disability checks or Social Security checks, as these are exempt and cannot be used for debt payments that have been court ordered. In fact, you should probably let a debt collector know if you have a bank account that contains only exempt funds.
4. Get a consumer lawyer
If you are served with a notice that a collection agency has sued you, be sure to get an attorney that specializes in consumer law. This is critically important because if the agency gets a judgment against you, it could garnish your wages. For example, a good attorney could find that the statute of limitations on your debt has expired, and that you’re no longer liable for it. If you can’t afford an attorney, at least show up in court because if you don’t, the creditor wins.
5. Record your conversations
If the collector makes threats or uses abusive you language then you need to record your conversations to document it. Some states won’t allow you to record a conversation unless you have the other party’s permission. You will need to check it out to see if this is true where you live. But if it’s allowed, record your conversations. In fact, it could be a good idea to tell the debt collector you’re recording the call even if you’re not. He’s less likely to be abusive if he thinks you are.
6. Get any agreement in writing
Don’t send in any payments until the agreement you’ve made with the debt collector is in writing and signed by a representative of the collection agency. As part of the agreement, you should also try to get the collector to agree to report your debt as “settled for full amount due,” or similar wording. If not, it will be reported as “settled for less than full amount due”settlement,” or something comparable and this will have a very negative effect on your credit and your credit score.