Debt collection agencies contact around 70 million Americans each year for bills they owe.
Is your phone ringing off the hook with calls from debt collectors? If so, it’s probably driving you crazy. It’s even worse when you don’t even owe the money they claim you do.
As you deal with these calls, you might wonder what strategy to take. What’s the best way to handle these calls? What can you do about it?
Here’s a guide to help you know the best ways to deal with debt collectors who call you.
Understand Why Debt Collection Agencies Get Involved
Before you learn how to handle debt collectors, you’ll need to understand why and how they get involved in the first place.
When you owe money to a creditor, they might try to collect it from you for a specific timeframe. If they can’t collect it within this timeframe, they’ll hire a debt collection agency to see if they can do it.
In some cases, creditors sell the uncollected debts to debt collectors. In other cases, they hire the companies to get debt settlement tips from them.
Creditors do this for several reasons. First, they don’t have time to try collecting money from people who aren’t paying. Secondly, they aren’t experts in debt collections.
By hiring someone else to do it, they might receive part of the money owed, which is better than receiving none of it.
Don’t Assume You Owe Money
When dealing with calls from collection agencies, the first thing to understand is that you shouldn’t assume you owe any money. There are plenty of times when consumers don’t actually owe the money the debt collectors are trying to collect.
For example, if you were a victim of identity theft, you might not owe any money. Additionally, you might’ve already paid the debt, meaning that you no longer owe anything.
There are plenty of reasons and situations when credit reporting agencies don’t update accounts with accurate information. Therefore, when collectors call you asking for money, never assume that you owe it.
It’s a completely different story if you know that you owe the money. If you don’t think you do though, you’ll need to complete a few more steps to determine if it’s a real debt.
Ask for a Validation Letter
One of the best things you can do when dealing with bill collectors is to ask them for a validation letter. A validation letter is something that bill collectors must send you if you ask for one.
In fact, if you ask for one, they must stop contacting you for a period of time. The timeframe depends on your state.
When you receive the letter, it should contain several details. First, it should state what the debt is for and the original creditor’s name. It should also include the date of the debt.
Additionally, the validation letter should clearly tell you how to fight the debt if you don’t feel that it’s accurate. While you wait for this letter, the collections company should stop calling you.
Challenge the Debt
If you feel that you aren’t responsible for this debt, you’ll need to go through a process to challenge it. The validation letter should tell you how to complete this.
When challenging a debt collection, you should submit any proof that you have that shows you aren’t responsible for it. For example, if you already paid it, you can submit a copy of the check you used to pay the bill.
If the collection is from identity theft or anything else, you can challenge it by stating that it’s not your debt. You can explain why it’s not and offer any evidence you might have that proves this.
You can also challenge the practices of a debt collection company. Debt collectors must follow the legal rules when calling you. If they break the law, you’ll have an easier time fighting the case. Contact a collections attorney for more information.
Offer to Settle the Debt
On the other hand, the debt might be real. You’ll then need to work out a plan for repaying it.
One option is to pay the bill in full over the phone or by sending in a check. In most cases though, you won’t have to pay the full bill to settle the debt.
Many debt collectors offer settlement plans for the debts they’re trying to collect. For example, suppose you owe $500. If you offer to pay $250 over the phone to settle it, they might accept the deal.
If you can do this, you can clear up the matter for half the price. However, make sure that you ask for a letter stating that they’ve agreed to settle the debt with you. You might need this letter later on in life.
Contact an Expert to Help You Fight It
The last thing to know is that you can hire experts to help you fight debt collections. If you can’t find a resolution through these steps, hiring a company like consumerprotection.net is the way to go.
For example, if the debt collection company is breaking the law by calling you too often or too late at night, a company like this can help you with the problem.
They can also help you solve identity theft issues and settle debts. When you can’t settle the issues alone, hiring someone to help is always a smart move.
Learning the Best Steps Can Help You Settle These Issues
If you’re tired of dealing with debt collection agencies, you can try using these methods. When you know the right steps, you might have a better chance of settling the issues and stopping the calls.
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