Are you receiving call after call from debt collectors about some unpaid credit card bills?
Take a deep breath, stay calm and get focused on your rights.
When it comes to dealing with third-party debt collectors, you’ve got plenty of rights, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
And those rights apply to every single phone call you receive from a debt collector about an overdue or forgotten credit card bill.
When it comes to collection calls, the debt collection act says there's a lot that collectors cannot say or do, including:
- Using abusive or obscene language.
- Harassing you with repeated calls.
- Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you consent.
- Calling you at work if you have asked them to stop.
- Talking to anyone but you or your attorney about the debt.
- Misrepresenting the amount of your debt.
- Falsely claiming to be an attorney or a law enforcement official.
- Falsely claiming to be a credit bureau representative.
- Threatening to sue unless they actually plan to take legal action.
- Threatening to garnish wages or seize property unless they actually intend to do it.
Be polite but brief when a debt collector contacts you by phone. Be sure to take notes.
"Make sure you're keeping a record of every conversation with a debt collector," says Gerri Detweiler, co-author of "Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights."
It's a good idea to make note of the day and time of the call, the name of the collection agency and the dollar figure of the debt being collected. You'll also want to include a brief summary of the conversation.
"You're just taking notes and fact-finding," Detweiler says. "Keep it short and brief."
If you believe a debt collector is treating you unfairly, don't be afraid to fight back.
Interested in negotiating a settlement with a debt collector or disputing a debt in writing? Be sure to follow these tips.