Foil 6 common consumer credit complaints

A collector call
7 of 8

The offense: abusive and/or illegal debt collection practices. Collection agents can be intimidating, and with the economy in tatters many companies are getting more aggressive about collecting on overdue debts. But you need to make sure they don't step over the legal line when dealing with you.

The defense: First, make sure it's your debt. Bill collectors may be looking for someone with a name similar to yours. Demand written proof it's your debt. If it is, verify that they are still within the legal time limit to collect. The statutes of limitations vary by state.

Know your rights. Learn what collectors can -- and can't -- do in your state. Good sources include the state attorney general's office, a local consumer affairs office and a nonprofit counseling agency. There is also the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is designed to insulate you from third-party collectors. Read "Are Collection Agents Treating You Fairly?"




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