One of the most UN-pleasant jobs I ever had was working as a debt collector. I wasn’t very good at it, actually, I was very bad at it. And I know why: I knew where these people were coming from! I understood their dilemmas and accepted their excuses. I didn’t last very long at that job, but I DID accumulate some valuable information on dealing with debt collectors.
Realize is that you DO have rights when working through debt collection.
These rights are spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You can take the time to read all the lawyer speak in the actual law, or you can read the Wikipedia entry which is a little more reader friendly. If you have any questions, be sure and check with a qualified attorney before you take any actions.
As distasteful as it may seem to deal with these people, you can make it worse! Protect your credit score, protect your checking account, and protect your reputation by making sure you DON’T do these:
1. DON’T avoid them. This will only make them more aggressive. It’s like running from an animal that is trained to pursue. Answer your phone calls and do what you’ll say you’ll do.
2. DON’T lie to them. Get caught lying and you can find yourself facing a lawsuit. Additionally, since you’re usually behind on payments anyway, lying will only foster their disrespect for you. You have the money they want. Tell them what you can do and when … then do it.
3. DON’T bury your head in the sand. The problem will only get worse if you ignore the situation. Face it head on. Remember, you are the one in charge, not them.
4. DON’T bounce any checks. This is akin to lying and is a quick way to get into legal trouble. Know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your check is good.
5. DON’T allow yourself to be intimidated. Eleanor Roosevelt once remarked, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t let the collector bully you. You are a human being and you deserve to be treated with respect. Besides, YOU have the money. You’re in charge.
6. DON’T make a promise you cannot keep. You may be tempted to promise a payment based on an anticipated future event. But, if something goes wrong, you have egg on your face and the collector will accuse you of lying. Only spend money you have in your hands. Only promise money that you control. No promises based on an upcoming bonus, none based on someone paying you back on a personal loan, none based on anticipated overtime. Spend ONLY the money you have in your control.
7. DON’T give the collector access to your checking account. Never give the creditor your checking account number or allow them to draft money from your account. I know of situations where a collector would draft more than agreed upon, would draft more than once per month, or draft on the wrong day, causing other checks to bounce. By the time you file claims and dispute their actions, you could get behind in other bills and find yourself with a negative balance in your checking account. Not good. Only deal with a collector via checks.
8. DON’T fail to dispute a charge in a timely matter. If the collector has popped another charge on you, you must file the proper claim quickly. Don’t waste time and wait around! The statute of limitations could be very specific depending on your state and if you wait too long, you could lose your legal right to dispute the claim.
9. DON’T sell what you bought on credit if you still owe money on it. The creditor will have a much stronger case against you because equity (in a car, home, or business) can usually be better protected from forced bankruptcy or default judgment than cash. Additionally, it may appear that you were committing fraud by buying something on credit, not paying for it, and then selling it for cash.
10. DON’T settle your debt without receiving confirmation in writing. The creditor has your debt obligation in writing, you need to do the same thing if you work out a settlement. After you pay the settled debt, make sure you get confirmation in writing that the account is closed. Also, check your credit report a few months later to see that your credit report shows “closed” or “settled” or “paid as agreed.” I would recommend that you negotiate the settlement to include a “paid as agreed” entry on your report.
Always remember that you have the money they want. They only get it when you decide to send it to them. You’re in control but you should always make sure you avoid these 10 DON’TS.
[tags]collections, collector, collectors, credit, debt, fair, fraud, legal, loan, money, payment[/tags]