Dealing With Debt Collectors

November 7, 2019

Dreamstime

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According to the U.S. Consumer Federal Protection Bureau and the National Consumer Law Center, 33% of U.S. adults with credit had debt in collection in 2016, with unemployment, divorce and unanticipated hardships leading the reasons for collections.  However how debt is collected tops the list of U.S. consumer complaints annually. Debt collectors will use any means necessary to collect debt but there are limits. So here are some tips for you in dealing with debt collectors. First, know you have legal rights. . The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that debt collectors can't harass or call consumers outside of restricted call hours, which are between 8am and 9pm, unless you make special time window arrangements. It also restricts the number of calls a debt collector can make each day. Debt collectors can attempt to reach debtors at their homes or offices. However, if a debtor tells a bill collector, either verbally or in writing, to stop calling his place of employment, the collector must not call that number again. It is also important to make sure the debt is legit and isn't a scam.  After the debt collector contacts you, they have 5 days to send you a written validation notice of how much money is owed, the name of the creditor and what to do if you think the debt isn't yours. Make sure you get the full name of the company and check with the Better Business Bureau or go online to a consumer review site like Yelp to check on its validity. Stay on top of the debt. Make sure to stay on top of debt notices and calls. While phone calls may have limits, mailed notices do not. There are no limits on debt collection specialists, who are a third party working on behalf of the owed debt. If you do start hearing from a debt collector, contact the collection agency right away and see if you can negotiate a debt settlement, either through a discounted payoff amount or via an installment plan, and keep the debt collection harassment in check right away. As long as you live up to the terms of any agreement, you won't be getting any more calls from that debt collector.  Don't Provide Your Bank Account Information. Once you give a debt collector your bank account information, they'll likely keep making withdrawals from that bank account - whether you like it or not. It's better to make any payments via third-party payment providers like PayPal or Western Union. Or make payments with a money order. That way, you control when the payments are made and not the debt collector. Negotiate a Settlement as Soon as Possible. If the debt has not appeared on your credit report yet, it's best to cut a deal and work out a settlement on that debt. By and large, debt collectors will offer you a deep discount to settle your debt -- they only get paid when the debt is being repaid, even at a discount. Keeping the debt off your credit report is a big deal, as it protects your credit rating and keeps you on good terms with future lenders and creditors. If your debt does wind up on your credit report, clean it up as soon as possible and insist that the debt collector remove the item from your credit report (through a process called "pay for delete") once the debt is satisfied.

SOURCE: The Street

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