Dealing with a debt collector can be one of the most frustrating experiences you will ever go through! Here are a few tips that will help.
It's 5:30 PM, and you've just sat down at the table to finally relax and enjoy a meal.
You don't recognize the caller from your caller ID, but you know who it probably is.
Yep, another call from that debt collector.
If you're like so many people these days who for one reason or another have fallen behind on your credit card or some other unsecured debt, you know how annoying it is to get these calls!
Let's put a stop to these calls!
If you do not know the address of the debt collector, then go ahead and answer the phone (just this time only!). Tell the debt collector that you want to pay this bill, but cannot at this time.
Of course, the debt collector will try to get you to agree to some small amount to be paid as a check-by-phone or from your debit card. DO NOT DO IT!!!!
Instead, ask for the address (as though you intend to mail a check later). If the debt collector will give it to you...great. If not, then just hang up. In a week or so, you should get (if you haven't already) a letter from the debt collector with the address you need.
According the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), if you write a letter demanding that the debt collector stop calling you, they must stop or face some very hefty fines!
Click below for a FREE sample letter to send:
Make sure you send the letter either by Priority Mail with a tracking number or by Registered Mail. You want to have proof that the debt collector received the letter.
OK, you've sent the letter, and since it will take a week or so for the calls to stop, what should you do the next time the phone rings? Here is what I suggest:
TURN OFF THE RINGER ON YOUR PHONE AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME!
If you do not have caller ID, GET IT! You will be able to see who is calling and if you do not recognize the caller...DON'T ANSWER. Your friends and family will leave a message.
DO NOT RETURN ANY MESSAGE FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR...PERIOD!
Debt collectors are trained to do one thing and one thing only...get you to pay! And although there are very clear laws that limits what they can and cannot do, some debt collectors are pretty low-down, and if you're not careful, they will get you to start paying.
DON'T FALL FOR THE HARDSHIP PLAN OFFER!
Although a "Hardship Plan" may have it's place, once in a while, for the most part, they are not a very good solution to your problem.
In most hardship plans, you will agree to make a lower payment for about 6 months and then the creditor will re-evaluate your situation. While this may help with your "cash flow" for a short term, in the long term, you will not be any better off.
OFFER A REDUCED AMOUNT AS A SETTLEMENT!
Believe or not, most debt collection companies will take a settlement on your account for much less than the current balance. A 50% reduction is not unusual and depending on your circumstances, you may able to get an even better settlement reduction.
Check out some of the settlements we have done for our clients:
If you don't have a lump sum to offer, they will (in most cases) work out a TERM-SETTLEMENT plan. Don't be afraid to ask!
Depending on how old your account is and your specific financial circumstances, the debt collector may have purchased your account from the original creditor for literally pennies-on-the-dollar, so they will usually take a settlement paid out over a 6-12 months, and in some cases longer.
What about a SUMMONS!
If you have received a summons, it is still not to late to work out a settlement or a repayment plan, but you need to take action quickly! I have written many blogs detailing HOW AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A SUMMONS. Please take a few minutes to check out.
Dealing with Debt Collectors is certainly not easy, but can be done.
Would you like some assistance? Just let us know:
Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee