How To Deal with Debt Collectors

We've become a spendthrift nation. Money flies out of our pockets at an alarming rate. And often, little thought it put into how something purchased on credit will be paid for. Ultimately, we're left with credit collectors calling us incessantly at home and at work. If you're looking for ways to deal with the embarrassing calls of debt collectors, here are a few tips.

Step 1

Ignore the phone calls. Believe it or not, debt collectors are legally not allowed to annoy or harass you with repeated calls. But one a day can still seem incredibly bothersome! Deal with the unending stream of phone calls from debt collectors by not picking up the phone. They'll likely leave a message, but you won't be harassed about a bill you can't pay. (This is not a permanent solution. Rather, it's just meant to buy you some time until you have funds available to repay your debts owed.)

Step 2

Negotiate with the debt collectors. If you do decide to pick up the phone, a debt collector is going to adamantly request that the debt be paid in full immediately. Now, likely you can't pay the debt in full. But discuss your repayment options with the creditor. Surprisingly, collections agencies are permitted to accept less than 100% of payment from you. (After all, any money is better than no money, right?) Request a lower principle and a reasonable debt repayment plan. Always get everything in writing before you begin to repay the debt. And demand that they not report anything negative to the credit bureau about this debt. Your willingness to work with them will help you to deal with debt collectors and have them stop calling you. (As an added precaution, have your original creditor sign any repayment deal you've made with a debt collector. That way, they can't come after you for the rest of a debt after you've settled it with the collection agency.)

Step 3

Understand the credit collection laws in your state. You may be surprised to know that wage garnishment, lawsuits and seizure of your property in order to repay a debt is not legal in all states. If this is the case in your state, you will have a bit more power when dealing with debt collectors. The Attorney General's office can inform you what is legal and illegal in your state.

Step 4

Complain. Get back at debt collectors by making a call to complain about them! As long as you have proof that the debt collector has done something illegal (or at least, not allowed), you can call the Federal Trade Commission and complain. If you have a diary of your interactions with the debt collector, you have a better chance of getting justice. Keep everything (and record any conversations with creditors if this is allowed in your state. You never know when you will need them.)

Step 5

Sue the debt collector. If you know that a collection agency has violated your rights, you have every right to sue them for damages, lawyer's fees and court costs. You've got to have a strong case with lots of evidence. But a lawyer who specializes in consumer credit law may be able to help you win your case. It's a strong move to make, but suing them will definitely help you to deal with debt collectors.


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