The annoyance of getting an overdue bill is terrible enough without debt collectors calling it to your attention. Anyone can run out of money and not pay bills on time, and it is embarrassing when debt collectors hammer you with phone calls. No one wants to have unpaid bills, but circumstances can make them happen. You do not have to put up with collection calls when you find out how to prevent them. The process of learning how to deal with debt collectors takes time, and it is anything but easy.
Understanding Your Rights
While you may not think that anyone is on your side, help can come from the federal government and debt consolidation companies. Time Magazine reported that debt collectors must “operate under a strict set of rules.” They cannot call you before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m. or anytime at your workplace without breaking the law. However, you must inform the debt collectors that you do not agree to accept earlier or later phone calls and that your company does not allow you to take calls at work.
The Consumer Information department of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a complete list of your rights that includes protection against “abusive, unfair or deceptive practices” when debt collectors contact you. Among the issues that Time considers most important, the rule that prevents collectors from threatening you with violence of any kind ranks high. They must provide a statement of your case in writing and send it to you within five days after their first contact with you with these details:
- how much you owe
- the name of your creditor
- what you can do to deny the debt
Keeping Your Mouth Shut
You may have little or even no experience with debt collectors, and that can put you at a disadvantage. They have years of experience and training as well, and they know how to get you to say things about your financial information or ability to pay. They may try to buddy up just by acting like they understand your situation. Do not take the bait no matter how attractive it may seem. They represent the people you owe, and they do not have your best interests in mind. Under no condition is it a good idea to tell a debt collector your bank account number or any other financial data. Time suggests that you can make an offer and ask if they can accept it in full settlement of your debt. Make sure to get a confirmation in writing if they agree and before you pay anything.
Stopping a Debt Collector from Contacting You
A letter by snail mail that you copy, certify at the post office and back up with a request for a “return receipt” provides the best way to state your request. A collector may contact you to say that the letter arrived or to alert you to an action such as a potential lawsuit. The FTC site gives you the details about how to refer matters to an attorney if you have one.
Facing a Difficult Challenge
The complexity of handling your finances when you owe money that debt collectors want to obtain may make you want to locate someone who can help you find a way out. Even though the government sites offer good advice, you may need professional help to avoid impacts on your financial standing. While you try to determine what to do, your debt gets older and more difficult to resolve.
If you think that you do not owe the money that the collectors claim that you do, you have a complication that probably takes more time to resolve than you can spare. An old debt may have exceeded the statute of limitations and become “time-barred,” but you may have no way to know its status. When that happens, you probably need to seek the advice of a professional debt counselor who can help you clear up your debt.
Getting Effective Help
At Christian Debt Counselors, you can consult with a professional debt counselor who can help with managing your issues. We may show you ways to lower your cost of credit by consolidating your debt. With our guidance, you can find the options that many others in your situation have used for relief from financial pressures. Give us a call at today for an appointment to find out how to deal with debt collectors.