How to Deal With Debt Collectors
If you have debt, chances are you’ll have to deal with a debt collector at some point, at least until you pay off the debt. Even if you’ve hired a debt settlement company to help you negotiate down your debt, debt collectors may still contact you for payment. Here are some tips for dealing with debt collectors, even when they get rude.
Keep a record of your conversations with debt collectors. You should avoid talking to debt collectors unless you’re at a place that you can take notes on the conversation. The collection agency will enter notes in their computer system, so you should have details about the call, too. At a minimum, you should note who called you, the date and time of the call, the debt they called about, what you said in the conversation and what the collector said. If the debt collector threatens or harasses you, make a note of it.
Write to collectors asking them not to call you if you don’t want these phone calls. If you prefer not to talk to the collector about that debt, especially if a settlement company is handling the account, you can send a written request that you not be contacted about the debt. Send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested so you have a record of the letter.
Don’t avoid their phone calls. Ignoring a debt collector doesn’t make them go away. They’ll keep calling you and maybe even start calling you at work if they can find your work phone number. (Your employer is listed on your credit report which debt collectors have access to.) Debt collectors can even call your family and neighbors to try to track you down. If you don’t want the embarrassment of debt collectors calling your loved ones, go ahead and talk to them. You don’t have to admit to the debt or make an agreement to pay. Just get their name and address so you can send a cease and desist letter asking them not to call.
Request debt validation. If you’re not sure whether the debt is yours, you have the right to ask for proof that you actually owe that debt. Your written request for debt validation should be sent to the collection agency within 30 days after you’re first contacted about that debt. In the meantime, the collection agency can’t contact you about the debt until they’ve sent proof of that debt. You can ask the collector for better proof if what they send you is not sufficient.
Don’t say you’ve sent payment if you really haven’t. You may be tempted to say, “The check is in the mail” just to get the collector off your back. Statements like these can be treated as payment promises. Breaking a promise doesn’t have immediate consequences, but it could restart the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time a collector can sue you for a debt. The time limit varies by state and could be used as a way to get debt collectors off your back. You can also use the statute of limitations as a bargaining chip for getting a lower settlement.