6 Steps To Deal With Debt Collection
Although you may be the sort of person who takes care to pay every bill on time; it’s possible to default on a payment or two for an unforeseen reason. After all, we’re all human aren’t we? Most organizations turn to a collection agency to recover outstanding payments from customers. These days however, a small default on a payment is enough for companies, especially credit card companies, to send debt collectors knocking on your door. A promise to pay up usually does not send them away, and you can bet that a first visit will most likely not be the last. On the other hand, there are many people who have to deal with a bigger headache- being hounded for a bill payment that is not theirs in the first place. Whatever be the problem, remember that nobody has the right to harass you or make you feel worried about your own safety. Here are a few tips on how to deal with a debt collector effectively:
A collection agency usually sends a debt collector when payment for a service used has not been received for more than a month or a few months. The first step should be to get in touch directly with the creditor who has sent the collector to meet you and to understand the reason behind the payment asked for. On the other hand, if you have been making regular payments and the creditor has not received them, it’s necessary to support your claims by showing proof- show records of bank statements, credit card bills or receipts if the payment has already been debited from you. If you feel that the payment amount is unjustified or if you do not recall spending that amount; it could be a case of identity theft or misuse of personal information. You need to resolve the issue at the earliest, although explaining the same to a debt collector can be hard.
If you get a phone call from a debt collector, or he comes to meet you in person; make sure you get complete details about who he is before making any payments. Find out the identity of the person, the agency he works for and so on. It is best if you make a call to the agency itself to verify if they have asked a collector to get in touch with you. If notices or any other intimation about the payment lapse was sent to you by email or post by the agency and you did not receive anything; it’s important to state so clearly.
Examine the bill that the debt collector gives you or that the collection agency sends you, carefully. There should be a clear breakdown of the original amount owed as well as a clear indication of any extra charges levied. If you feel that the bill is inflated and is not correct, get a clarification from the agency. It is their duty to clear any doubts you may have about how much you owe.
Keep a file noting each incident of contact initiated by the collection agency. This will help you keep track of the number of times you have been contacted by them, messages received, as well as threats or other intimidating warnings. Also include any copies of emails that you received and other notices. This file will be useful in case you decide to take legal action against the collection agency later.
Are you certain that you are paying the proper party and that the collection agency is not a fraud? Remember that it is your money that is being spent and the last thing you want is for it to fall into a crook’s hands. Simultaneously, do not pay a bill that you feel is unjustified, in the hope that it will make the collector go away. When you make a payment for an unsettled debt, it is actually an acknowledgement of a payment lapse on your part and may still find a place in your credit report.
In order to protect the rights of its citizens, the US Government put an important act called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in place across all American states. It is best to familiarize yourself with your rights and to understand what action a debt collection agency is legally permitted to take and what they cannot do. For instance, a collector is not allowed to make idle threats, use abusive language, harass a customer, ruin your credit report on purpose, make calls or house visits at odd hours or forcibly take money from you.
Although it can be highly embarrassing to be confronted with a collector frequently; remember that if the situation gets out of hand, it is your right to seek legal action. A lawyer who can give you unbiased advice on the strength of your case and who has relevant experience in the FDCPA act is the right person to turn to. Debt collection agencies have the right to inform payment defaulters and collect payment that is due, but also have to operate within a set framework.