10 Tips For Dealing With Debt Collectors
It has to be any consumer’s worst nightmare. You find yourself in trouble with debt, and then one unsuspecting evening you are paid a visit by a debt collector, who is demanding payment of the money that you owe, or else.
The best advice that anyone could give is to try to deal with your debt problems before it gets to the stage where the debt is sold to a debt collector. Make repayment plans, manage your finances, and negotiate with creditors to come to an arrangement.
If this is not possible, or the debt collector has already been called into action, then it is important not to panic. Yes the situation is quite serious and is going to require your attention, but with the proper knowledge on your side there are ways to deal with the debt collector.
1. Don’t Bury Your Head In The Sand
First things first. Don’t panic, but also don’t bury your head in the sand. This might sound like a bit of a paradox at first, but the you have to recognize your situation in order to deal with it calmly, and before anything escalates. It is not recommended to ignore the debt collector.
2. Get Information In Writing
When a debt collector knocks on your door they might seem very scary indeed, and very often these scary tactics are a way for them to try to get their money faster. When a collector first makes you aware of your debt, you should answer the door, keep your conversation very short, and ask them to send you the information in writing. They are then required b law to send you written confirmation within five days. This will allow you to assess your situation on paper, rather than under the watchful eye of the collector.
3. Check The Debt Is Accurate
The debt information should show you how much you owe. You should carefully check that the debt belongs to you, that the figures are accurate, and that you actually owe what is stated. Mistakes do happen, and if they have done then you have 30 days to send a letter to the debt collector to make a dispute. If you dispute the debt then they will have to prove it before they can continue their collection process.
4. Know Your Rights
If the debt is accurate, then you still have rights, and debt collectors still have restrictions. For example, they cannot collect before 8am or after 9pm, they cannot come to your place of work if you have asked them not to, and they cannot make threats without the intention and legal documentation that backs them up. Keep a record of any misconduct that occurs, as this can work in your favor in a court room.
5. Negotiate With Them
Many people don’t stop to think about what a debt collectors job actually is. Their role is to try to get the debt from you as quickly as possible. This often leads them to use scare tactics to try to get you to pay up, but the fact is if you can’t afford it then they won’t get very far. Many of them will accept a process of negotiation. You should try to reach a repayment plan with them, and negotiate on an initial down-payment if possible.
6. You May Even Be Able To Pay Less Than What You Owe
Debt collectors actually paid pennies to buy your debt from the original lender. There is therefore a distinct possibility that they will agree to settle for a part payment of what you owe, maybe as low as 50%.
7. Document Everything
You should make sure you document everything that happens with the debt collector, as this will help you to easily prove anything if they try to pull the wool over your eyes. This includes records of repayment plans, every letter sent and received, transactions, and even phone calls and conversations if you can record them.
8. Never Give Them Access To Your Bank Account
When you are working out a payment schedule with the collector, it is highly advisable that you DO NOT give them access to your bank account to autodraft for a monthly payment. There is no saying that they won’t take a larger sum when it is available, or leave you in your overdraft and with extra fees to pay. Instead, consider making payments with recorded money orders or third party payments.
9. Debt Management
Debt management solutions are available that can help you to take back control of your debt, either pre or post debt collector. Proper financial management and budgeting can help you to make repayments on time, and formal debt solutions can be used to prevent debt collection in the case of serious debt problems.
10. Seek Professional Help
If you are under threat from a debt collector, and are still unsure as to the best course of action, professional help is available. An attorney can help you to deal with the legal aspects of debt collection, and independent financial advice companies such as Debt Negotiators can provide impartial financial advice that will help you to better understand and navigate your situation.