If you’re struggling with debt that’s gotten out of control, one or more of your accounts may end up in the hands of collection agencies. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about collection agencies:
Since collectors get paid when they recover a debt, they’re very motivated to be successful in getting you to pay what you owe.
If you have a debt in collections, you may be contacted by phone, email, snail mail, or text, and they may try to contact you at work.
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you’ve told them it’s okay. You have the right to ask them to stop calling you and to communicate with you only in writing.
Each state has its own laws about the length of time that collectors can try to recover a debt. This is known as a statute of limitations and usually is four to six years since your last payment but may be longer.
Some collection agencies may try to intimidate you to get you to pay your debt. They’re not allowed to harass or threaten you, and they can’t use foul language when they speak to you.
Collectors have the right to contact people that know you as a method of trying to find out where you are. They must identify themselves as a debt collector if they call and there’s a limited number of times that they can do this.
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to misrepresent the amount that you owe. They can’t claim to be government representatives or try to collect fees or interest on top of your debt. They can’t claim you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay or that legal action will be taken unless that’s true.
Collection agencies can take you to court and try to get a court order for you to pay. They may be able to get money taken out of your paycheck, which is known as garnishment. If you’re notified that you’re being sued, go to court and try to fight the collection agency from getting a court order against you.
The good news is that collection agencies can negotiate with you and may agree to accept a lower amount than you owe as a full settlement.
As long as you file a dispute within 30 days of their first contact with you, collectors have to stop contacting you until they investigate your dispute. If the investigation shows that it’s legitimate, they’ll need to notify you in writing.
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