How to deal with debt collectors is the topic of this blog post.
The first lesson in how to deal with debt collectors is that you need to remember that you should never assume that any debt is valid or even collectible until you have both verified the debt and confirmed that the debt is still collectible.
The reality is that due to the statute of limitations debts can become unenforceable e because the creditor or the debt collector waited too long. The law recognizes the statute of limitations as a legitimate defense because the account owner or creditor has given up the legal right to file any lawsuit against you for the debt.
Sometimes, accounts that appear legitimate are invalid or cannot be collected for other reasons. So, it important not to assume the debt collector is right. Always demand proof of the obligation to make sure this is a legitimate debt that can be lawfully collected.
You should never trust the math calculations used in arriving at the total amount that a creditor or collection agency says you owe. Calculating proper interest and penalties can be intimidating if you have never done it before but it is not impossible. If you take the time to properly calculate the interest and penalties you have a good chance of catching the creditor or collection agency lying to you regarding how much debt you really owe including any additional charges which may or may not be authorized under the contract.
Any debt collector that misrepresents a debt may be violating both federal law and state law. If you catch a debt collector or collection agency violating your rights you can use that as leverage to settle your debt for a lower amount than you may actually owe. Always do the math! Always!
Another important issue is that you should always demand that any debt collector or collection agency show you the contract. In other words always make them prove it! No exceptions. This test is simple but you will find that many times they have no documents whatsoever to prove that you owe anything. Always demand that they produce all documents showing that you owe the debt as soon as you can, and as often as you can. Never take anything that a debt collector or collection agency tells you at face value.
Never ever assume that any documents that a debt collector or collection agency sends you as proof is really accurate. Go over any documents that they send to you with a fine tooth comb and carefully examine and calculate the amount of the debt that they claim that you owe.
Never negotiate with a debt collector or collection agency until you are completely satisfied that the debt is both valid and accurate.
A surprising number of debt collectors and collection agencies violate the law by using abusive and unlawful debt collection practices. Always take written notes when they call and keep a detailed log of all conversations and all written communications with anyone.
Keep a record of the date and time they call, what demand or threat they made with each call and how the call ended. For example, record the debt collector threats to take some action, like suing you, reporting the account to the credit reporting agencies, talking to your friends or neighbors, threatening arrest or harassing you until payment is received.
Always protect your assets and never make yourself and easy target for a debt collector or collection agency as some will overlook important consumer protection laws to get at funds in your bank accounts, or, in cases of student loans, intercept tax refunds.
Do not allow that to happen and never give a debt collector or collection agency any information regarding your bank account either by sending a check or providing them with your bank account information. Otherwise they may try to use that information to garnish your wages and you would not be notified until after the wage garnishment started in most states.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.