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Receiving calls from debt collectors can feel like you’re starring in your very own horror movie. But don’t let the suspense get to you! Handling these calls with a cool head and a clear plan is important. So, grab a notepad and let’s look at some things to do if debt collectors are calling you. Remember, knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s your best defense against those daunting ring tones.
Know Your Rights
Understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Debt collectors have rules they must follow, and you have rights to protect you from harassment or abuse.
Don’t Ignore the Calls
While it might be tempting to ignore the calls, engagement is key. Ignoring them won’t make the debt go away and might escalate the situation.
Verify the Debt
Always ask for a validation notice. You have the right to verify that the debt is yours and the amount is correct.
Keep Call Logs
Document every interaction. Note the date, time, the name of the debt collector, and what was discussed. This information can be crucial if there’s a dispute.
Set Communication Boundaries
You can specify how and when a debt collector can contact you. If calls are disruptive, request communication in writing.
Know What They Can’t Do
Debt collectors cannot threaten, harass, or publicly disclose your debt. Knowing what isn’t allowed can help you recognize when your rights are being violated.
Don’t Provide Too Much Personal Information
Be cautious about sharing personal information like your bank account numbers or Social Security number.
Negotiate a Settlement
If you owe the debt, consider negotiating a settlement for less than what’s owed. Debt collectors often buy debts for less than the full amount.
Seek Legal Advice
If you’re overwhelmed or your rights are being violated, consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in consumer debt issues.
Don’t Let Them Intimidate You
Stay calm and collected. Don’t be pressured into making payments you can’t afford or disclosing information you’re not comfortable sharing.
Check Your Credit Report
Ensure the debt and its details are reported accurately on your credit report. If not, you have the right to dispute it.
Consider a Repayment Plan
If you acknowledge the debt and can pay, propose a repayment plan that’s realistic for your financial situation.
Know the Statute of Limitations
Debts have a statute of limitations, after which they are considered “time-barred.” Know these limits, as you may not be legally obligated to pay old debts.