Plan to Deal with Debt Collectors
At best, being on the receiving end of debt collector calls and letters can be nerve-wracking. At worst, it can be terrifying. If you’re facing collection of debts, you need to formulate a plan. Although everyone’s individual circumstances are different, we’ve outlined ideas and suggestions that you can use to get started.
1. Know your rights. Remember that knowledge is power. When you understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to unscrupulous debt collectors attempting the collection of debts.
2. Start a logbook. As tedious as it sounds, keeping a record of every interaction you have with a debt collection agency – on the phone or in writing – will give you a huge advantage if the debt collector crosses the line into illegal behavior. Whether you use paper and pen, a note app on your smartphone, or a spreadsheet, jot down the date and time of every phone call, along with the debt collector’s name and the debt collection agency name. Also log what the debt collector said. Keep the originals of all correspondence, including the outer envelopes in which notices are mailed. Note the date you received each piece of mail.
Call Log Template:
3. Answer the phone and open the mail. Once you engage the services of a consumer attorney, all debt collector calls and correspondence must go to your attorney. Your lawyer will receive any information regarding the collection of debts. Until then, it’s important that you set aside your dread, and answer the phone and open the mail. Debt collectors count on the fact that most consumers avoid debt collection agency communication, and use that to their advantage in obtaining legal judgments. Don’t let that happen to you!
4. Buy yourself some time. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says that, within five days of first contacting you, a debt collection agency must send you a written notice stating the amount of the debt owed, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and that you have 30 days in which to dispute the debt. Unless you have the money to pay the outstanding debt, it’s a good idea to send the debt collection agency a debt collection dispute letter. This accomplishes several things. First, it forces the debt collection agency to research the debt and collect documentation, which they must then forward to you. This is an enormous hassle for debt collectors, and often takes some time. Second, once a debt collection agency receives your dispute letter, they cannot contact you again until they have provided you with proof that the debt is valid. This gives you some breathing room to figure out what to do. Third, it gives you the opportunity to do your own research, and see if they debt is truly yours to pay. Some very old debts, for example, may have expired under your state’s statute of limitations.
5. Stop the calls and letters. If you’re like most people, you find calls and letters regarding the collection of debts extremely stressful. According to the FDCPA, if you write a cease and desist letter, the debt collector can no longer communicate with you unless they’re informing you that they’re no longer trying to collect the debt, or that they’re taking legal action. While this doesn’t erase your debt, it can keep the dread of answering the phone and opening the mail at bay.
Cease and Desist Template:
6. Fight illegal debt collection practices. If a debt collector has crossed the line during the collection of debts and engaged in illegal debt collection practices, you can make him pay – literally. The Fair Debt Collection Practices act says that you can recover actual damages, attorney fees, plus up to $1,000. Often the threat of a lawsuit is enough to prod the shady debt collector into offering to wipe away the debt or offering a monetary settlement. To speak with a representative directly and immediately call (470) 353-8870 for a free, no obligation case evaluation. In addition, file a complaint with your state attorney general’s office
7. Decide how to deal with the debt. If you discover that the debt is legally yours to pay, you need to decide upon the best course of action regarding the collection of debts. If you decide to pay the debt, you can negotiate a debt settlement. If you find that bankruptcy is your only option, that may be the way to go.
8. Find the support you need. When you’re dealing with debt collection agencies, you need an ally. Ideally, you and your significant other can work together as a team to develop a strategy that will work for your family. You can also seek out the support of a close friend who can help see you through this rough patch in your life. You’d be surprised at the number of your friends who have lived through similar circumstances. Although people tend not to talk about it, chances are good that there are several people in your circle of friends and acquaintances who have experienced your financial anxiety and frustration. Finally, you can seek out the help of an attorney. Once you have an attorney, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) mandates that all communication regarding debt collection go through your lawyer.