Debt collectors often feel that they have to be tough due to their line of work, but sometimes this toughness can be misplaced and inappropriate. If a debt collector is repeatedly seeking payment from you on a consumer debt, you will feel annoyed, frustrated and sadly, in many cases, intimidated. If you feel like you are being hounded for a debt, it is vital for you to know how to handle the collectors so you know how to manage your personal finances in the best way.
As you should not agree to any contract without a careful analysis of its terms, you also should not pay a debt collector when they first contact you without thinking through your options. People feel ashamed of debt; debt collectors know this and try to exploit it to get people to pay them quickly and without fuss. They do this by fabricating a sense of urgency, so don’t feel pressured by this: don’t pay or promise to pay or give any information linked to payment that a collector may use at a later date. Simply ask for more information and say you will discuss it with them once you have reviewed this information.
Some collectors ask for a small payment, but if you give them even a dollar it serves as you acknowledging that the debt is real. When a debt has gone past its statute of limitations, many debt collectors attempt to collect a small amount of money as it then resets the statute of limitations and can lead to you being vulnerable to a lawsuit.
There are fair practices to which debt collectors legally have to abide by, including agreeing to your chosen method of communication, not swearing or threatening you, not misleading you about their identity or details of the debt, not misleading you about legal repercussions (like threatening arrest). If you feel like debt collectors are overstepping the mark and harassing you, you should know that you can fight debt collector harassment and lawsuits by knowing your rights under the FDCPA.
When You Have More Information
If you ask for more information about the debt, you should get a validation letter which features information telling you about the details of the debt, the company collecting the debt and how you can challenge it. If you want to challenge it, you should collect all the records that you have on the debt and keep a good record of your communications with the debt collector. This is because many debt collectors buy resold debts from other debt collectors and can mistake how much is owed.
Challenging the Debt
You legally have the right to challenge and dispute the debt. If you do this within 30 days of the initial contact that the collector has with you, you cannot be asked for any payment until the official dispute you have filed is investigated. If you feel your debt is illegitimate, your first course of action should be to dispute it without delay as not disputing it within 30 days means your debt collector can still try to collect while the debt is in investigation.