It pays to know your rights and keep a record of all your communications when you butt heads with debt collectors. Here are some ways to hold your own.
When you bargain with a debt collector, you’re dealing with a tough, professional negotiator. One advantage you could have knowing your rights.
When collecting a debt from you, a debt collector must play by the rules. It behooves you to also know the rules. Check out consumer brochures on fair debt collection from the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws; for more information, contact the attorney general’s office in your state.
When you know your rights, debt collectors know they can’t get away with certain things. Thus they are less likely to try to use more aggressive tactics
Something that you should do is prioritize your bills. No matter what a debt collector says, an unpaid credit card bill is not your first priority, providing necessities for your family comes first.
Estimate how much you can pay and offer less. You want to make sure that you do not enter into a deal and then cannot afford the payments.
Avoid sending postdated checks to a debt collector or agreeing to automatic electronic payments from your checking account. These forms of payment have gotten people into trouble.
Don’t tell them your life story. They are there to collect payment and are really not interested in your sad tale.
Remember to monitor the information you give. It is not necessary that they know where you work or bank. Saying as little as possible and maintaining your facts on the account that is to hand keeps it simple and your personal data secure.
No matter what a debt collector says, keep your cool and stay focused on the negotiation. The more in control you sound, the more likely you are to get what you want out of the negotiation.
It is within your rights to tape the call. This will give you a record of the agreements and may keep the debt collector in line. You will need to follow your state laws regarding taping phone calls, many do allow you to secretly tape the phone conversation while others require the permission of both parties.
If you cannot tape the call, take notes. Important things to note are the day and time of each call, the name of the collection agency, the first and last name of the caller and the purpose of the call as well as what was said. You should also have a record of all the letters or bills sent to you by the collection agency. You may need evidence of a transaction or deal made.
Always get proof of payment agreements in writing. What is said in your phone call may not be what the debt collector reports to his seniors. While on the phone request that it be repeated and that you get in writing the agreement made.
You should also send a letter to the debt collector outlining the payment agreement. You’ll want to send this letter via certified mail so you’ll receive a receipt once the letter is delivered. Keep a copy of the letter and delivery receipt for your records.
If you plan to pay by check, add the following disclaimer: “Cashing this check constitutes payment in full” right on the check.
Once you have an agreement made ask the debt collector to remove any negative information they’ve placed on your credit report. At the very least, insist that your account be listed as paid in full rather than paid in settlement. Once they agree, get it in writing.
Don’t think that you are done once the call is made. Make sure the debt collector knows your payment will be sent after you have confirmation of the payment agreement in writing. They will try to push for a payment right then and there, don’t give into this. You must resist all demands and special offers for the instant payment.
It may also be wise to negotiate at the end of the month. Commissions for debt collectors are based on what they do each month, you may want to try negotiating near the end of the month. You could get a really good deal.
While determining how much money you have to pay off debts why not do a free money search? You may find a jackpot. Currently there is an excess of $25 Billion being held by the government. This money is unclaimed property.
Unclaimed money and property can come from many sources, the most common are utility deposits, final paychecks, stocks, bonds, IRS refunds, safe deposit box contents, and insurance policies. These found funds are sent to the state as unclaimed property and are held until the rightful owner comes forward to claim the lost money.