When you experience financial difficulties and fall past due on payments, you can count on debt collectors contacting you for payment through letters, emails, and phone calls. Tactics used by debt collectors can be annoying and overwhelming. In some cases, the tactics they use may be illegal. It’s important to know your rights about how to deal with debt collectors, including what they can and can’t do.
Get Information on the Debt
When first contacted by a debt collector, ask them for detailed information about the original debt and how much is owed. If they are trying to collect an old debt, the statute of limitations may have passed. If you admit the debt is yours or make a small payment, you may reset the clock on an old debt.
Ask for a validation letter that provides information about the debt in writing. Once you get this information, make sure it’s accurate. Unpaid debts can be sold to a different collection agency, and if you don’t know the amount you owe, they may try to collect more than the total owed.
Never Give Personal Information Over the Phone
Just because someone claims you owe money doesn’t mean they are a legitimate collection agency. A legitimate debt collector already knows your name, address, and social security number. They also know your account number and how much is left on the balance. If they try to get you to give personal information, it may be a scam.
Working with Debt Collectors
If you know you owe them money, don’t ignore efforts by a debt collection agency to contact you. In most cases, debt collectors are willing to work with you to set up a payment plan, and they may be willing to accept a lower amount as a settlement. A debt that is settled stops the collection activity but it remains on your credit report for up to seven years.
Know Your Rights When Dealing with Debt Collectors
There are rules that debt collectors must follow when collecting a debt. They can’t use profane language or call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They can’t contact you at work if you’ve told them not to. They can’t harass or threaten you with arrest or jail time. They do have the right to take you to court to try to get a court order to make you pay, and they can report the collection account to the credit bureau.
Your Credit Report
Information on debt that has gone to collections may be reported incorrectly to the credit bureau, particularly if your debt is sold to one or more different collection agencies. That’s one reason it’s important to know exactly how much you owe and who your creditors are. If you find any errors on your credit report, reach out to Dovly for help disputing them with the credit bureau.
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