Debt comes in all shapes and sizes and while there may be good debt, such as financing your mortgage or taking out a loan to fund your small business, there is also a great deal of bad debt. This debt can add up and before you know it, you’re getting those collection calls asking for the money you borrowed. In this article, you’ll learn a little about how to handle those calls and what you should do to minimize the damage to your pocketbook.
Know the Laws
Assuming your debt was sold to a third-party collector, you’re not in for the easiest time of your life. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector cannot lie about legal documents, make up a document to look legal when it isn’t, and they certainly can’t say you’ve committed a crime. They also can’t impersonate a government official or an attorney. If you feel harassed by their phone calls, tell them so. Under no circumstance are they allowed to harass you.
Under the FDCPA, threats and dishonesty such as the following are not allowed:
● Threats of a lawsuit without actually having the intention of doing so.
● Claims of garnishing your wages if this is not legal.
● Lying about the amount you owe.
● Saying you will be physically harmed.
● Telling you that you will be arrested if you don’t pay.
Handle Your Debt and Don’t Panic
Hanging up the phone, missing collector calls, or just “waiting it out” are bad ideas. If a debt collector calls to inform you that there will be a lawsuit against you, you should consider getting an attorney. You’ll want someone who has a proven track record of success and extensive knowledge of the FDCPA. Once you have proper legal representation, it’s a smart move to direct debt collectors to your lawyer instead of handling them yourself.
Take the time to ask your collector for a breakdown of the amount you owe such as the principal, the interest accrued, and any sort of fees you may have been charged. After you discover the exact amount you owe and why you owe it, you can face the music and pay it immediately, or you can wait. It’s not recommended that you wait due to the possibility that a debt collector could take legal action, though there is a statute of limitations.
Some statutes can be as short as 3 years and others as long as 10. Until then, you run the risk of being sued and will continue to have debt on your credit report.
Am I Being Scammed?
Don’t automatically assume someone is an actual debt collector and give them your personal information. Remember that they are required to tell you who they are. Scammers often ask for your bank account number, social security number, or credit card number in an attempt to plague off your fears and trick you into paying a nonexistent debt. These criminals are known to pose as law enforcement agents and threaten their victims with jail time if they don’t pay.
What Other Steps Can I Take?
Debt collectors can only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If you still find yourself annoyed by their constant calls, send them a proper letter describing your wishes. You can reduce how often they call or eliminate communication entirely. There are also letters available for you to request official documentation of what you owe on your debt. Also, be sure you purchase delivery confirmation and only send the letter through certified mail.
Don’t ever admit you owe the debt in any capacity. Should you come to an agreement to pay the debt, ask them to send written acknowledgement of your payment terms. Don’t pay without getting this confirmation to avoid any future issues involving misunderstandings or missed payments.
Keep your cool, choose your course of action, and stick to it. Remember to do continuous research if you plan to settle the matter on your own and understand how the system works to achieve the best possible outcome.
Courtesy of CashNetUSA.
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