If you are having trouble making debt payments on time, you may receive a phone call from a debt collector. Here’s what you need to know about your rights and about how to make the best arrangement you can to pay your debt.
A debt collector may be someone from the company to whom you owe money or it may be someone from a debt collection agency. They are calling you to try to get you to pay a debt that you owe that has not been paid according to the terms of the agreement. You may be just a few days late or several months behind when you get a call from a debt collector.
A debt collector can call you, send you a letter or email, contact you on social media, or even come to see you in person. They must respect your privacy, however, and may not tell someone else, such as the person who answers your home telephone, that they are a debt collector.
They can only call by phone three times in a week or ten times in a month, and only between 7:30am and 9:00pm on weekdays and between 9:00am and 9:00pm on weekends. They cannot call on national public holidays. They should not come to see you in person if they can reach you by phone. They should not use electronic means, such as email or social media, unless they are sure the account is only used by you.
Some debt collectors can get over-eager in their interactions, so it’s important to know when they’ve crossed the line. They cannot intimidate or threaten you and they cannot trespass on your property after you’ve asked them to leave. They cannot be verbally abusive or harass you. They cannot make misleading or false statements about your debt or what will happen to you if you do not pay.
The best way to deal with a debt collector is to be forthright about your financial circumstances, and try to work with them to reach a solution that’s agreeable to both of you. Return their calls promptly and keep any promises you make regarding repayment.
If you cannot pay according to the original terms of the debt, a collector may be willing to extend those terms to make it easier to pay. You may need to provide details about your finances, such as your income and other debts. You may be able to negotiate a settlement for less than the amount of the debt if you can pay it in a lump sum.
If a debt collector calls about a debt that is not yours, ask for the account number and a copy of the contract. If you want to dispute the debt because you think you should not have to pay it for some reason, contact the lender directly and be prepared to back up your claim.
Dealing with a debt collector can be unpleasant, but by understanding your rights and their abilities, you can often work out a mutually agreeable solution.