If you’re facing mounting debt, you are probably already stressed about paying it back. The weight of the financial burden can be sometimes too much to bear. Daily and monthly expenses, now combined with an enormous debt, may feel as though you are on a treadmill and can never get ahead.
An attorney also understand these types of painful debts may also not be your fault. It could be from medical expenses, an unexpected car accident, or sudden loss of a loved one and their income.
The debt collectors who contact you may not always be understanding of the circumstances, and when they call you they may seek to get the information they will use against you. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
What should I do when debt collectors call?
The biggest thing you can do is to keep a collections log. Write down the date and time of the call, who you spoke with, and general notes about what was said. Doing so will help you track what debts each collector is calling about and help to track inconsistencies in one call to the next.
It’s also important to request clarifying information about the debt: what are the amount and the original creditor? Don’t let the debt collector pressure you into making a payment. You should not rush to pay off the debt until you are absolutely sure it’s yours and it’s a legitimate debt.
What if the debt isn’t mine?
If you do not believe the debt is legitimate or not yours, explain why. Depending on the circumstances, the collector may even cease pursuing your debt since their resources are better devoted elsewhere.
You can also request debt verification. This process requires collectors to stop pursuing payback and instead seek written verification from the original creditor. This request usually needs to be filed within 30 days of a debt collector’s first notice.
What if the debt is mine, but I can’t afford to pay?
First, try explaining your circumstances to the debt collector. Again, depending on the full circumstances and amount owed they may be willing to move on and forgive the debt.
If your financial shortcomings are temporary they may be willing to work with you if a clear, future path is visible. Finally, if the circumstances are more significant and long term then consider working with a credit counselor. They will be able to assess your position and offer neutral advice.
What should I avoid when a debt collector calls?
Debt collectors are skilled in pressuring tactics to get you to pay, but you can look out for their traps.
- Never provide bank account numbers for anything other than a legitimate payment.
- Never provide your social security number
- Never discuss the value of the property you own
Debt collectors will attempt to use your responses against you. Stick to basic information about income or other financial burdens.
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