If you’re in a situation where debt collectors are calling you three times a day demanding that your debts be repaid, you’re probably rather worried and possibly rather frightened about the situation, especially if you are having difficulty paying back the debts you owe. Even worse, many debt collectors are highly unscrupulous, calling people that are obviously frightened over and over again, hoping to get a piece of that debt in their hands.
The truth is that you have a lot of rights in this situation, rights that the debt collector probably isn’t going to inform you about. Take a long look at the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, passed by Congress on September 30, 1996. It’s quite long, but what this act does is deliver a number of protections for you as a person in debt to fend off overly aggressive actions by debt collectors.
I’m not going to tell you that you can get out of this debt without paying it and with your credit report intact – that’s basically impossible in most cases. However, here are five great actions you can take to slow down the debt collectors – or even stop them.
First, request an official notice of the debt. If you claim that you haven’t received an official notice of the debt, they can’t contact you for a period until it’s clear you have received it. This is usually done via registered letter, so if you’ve already accepted a registered letter in regards to this debt, this tactic won’t work.
Second, dispute the debt. Just inform the collector in writing that you are disputing the debt. Until the collector can verify the debt and provide this evidence to you, they can’t contact you. This again gives you some breathing room to figure things out.
Third, contact your state’s attorney general. Specifically state your interactions with the persistent debt collector and ask whether or not this is within the guidelines allowed in your state. This can usually give you a tool to fight the most aggressive behavior.
Fourth, get their address and inform them in writing to stop contacting you. Once you do this, you can only be contacted in the event that a collector is taking a specific action in regards to you and your debt. If you catch them contacting you again without such a reason, you may have grounds for a lawsuit that could result in the forgiveness of your debt.
Finally, negotiate with them. Offer to pay a strong percentage of the debt (say, 50%) immediately in exchange for a forgiveness of the debt and an elimination of it from your credit report, both given to you in writing. Most debt collectors will jump at this as they are usually paid on a commission based on getting anything at all out of you. This likely won’t scour your credit report clean, but it will improve things.
The Federal Trade Commission offers several additional tips for working with debt collectors. Good luck.