One of the best things to do to reduce the stress of dealing with debt collectors is to make sure that they are playing by the rules. First, you will need to educate yourself about your rights as a debtor dealing with a debt collector. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects debtors from debt collectors who use abusive language, harassing phone calls, physical threats, misrepresent themselves, deposit post-dated checks early and publish your name. If you are feel that you are being treated unfairly by a debt collector, you should report the debt collector to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and to your state attorney general’s office.
2. Don’t Ignore the Situation
Ignoring a debt collector will not make the debt go away. It can be tough dealing with debt collectors, but it is important to take action. The debt collectors will just keep calling and filling up your inbox, so it is better to pick up the phone and to read the letters that they send you than to try to ignore them. You can rack up additional charges by ignoring their calls and letters.
3. Get the Information in Writing
Once a debt collector has contacted you by phone, it is important to request information about your debt in writing. Request a written notice detailing the amount of money that you owe. The written notice should also include the name of the creditor. In addition, the written notice should include information about what to do if you do not believe that you owe the money. Companies do not always keep great records, so it is important to figure out the exact amount of money that they say that you owe, and then you can look for ways to dispute the charges.
4. Keep Conversations Short
Since the debt collector’s job is to get you to pay the debt that you owe, you will want to keep the conversations short or the debt collector may start twisting your words. Of course, it is best to pay the debts that you owe, but this is not always possible. The debt collector will try to interrogate you to get you to admit that you have some money that you could use to pay off your debt. Simply state that you do not have the money right now, and try to end the conversation quickly.
5. Seek Help from a Professional
If you owe a lot of money and don’t have a plan for how to pay off your debt, you should contact a credit counselor for help. A credit counselor can help you develop a payment plan with your creditors that will work with your budget. However, you should avoid for-profit credit repair companies because they may just increase the amount of money that you owe. You may end up financially worse than before you hired them. Stick with nonprofit credit counseling agencies for help with your debt. One of the great things about working with a credit counselor is that creditors will typically contact the credit counselors instead of you once you are enrolled in a credit counseling program.