Many people who are struggling with unpaid debt stress about the dreaded day that they have to deal with debt collectors. At Cash Factory USA, we’re here to offer you advice on dealing with debt collectors. What are they allowed to do? How can you protect yourself and your family? Learn more about your rights when you read on here.
1. What Are Your Rights?
While debt collectors are allowed to call you to collect on unpaid debt, there are public protections designed to protect you under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If a debt collector is harassing you, you have the right to file a complaint. Some of the most common illegal practices and debt collection tactics include:
- Nuisance phone calls (calling multiple times a day or at odd hours)
- Threats or abusive language
- Contacting third parties (your parents or job)
- Pretending to be someone else
To report debt collectors using these strategies, submit a complaint to the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state’s attorney general office.
2. Don’t Ignore the Calls
Getting calls and letters from debt collectors may be scary, but you don’t want to ignore them. If you don’t communicate with the debt collector about your unpaid debt, things become much less consumer-friendly. You also want to make sure that the debt they’re claiming is yours actually is yours. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows you to send a written request for a verification of debt within 30 days of the first contact. Confirm that the details of the debt are correct (amount, due date, etc.) and prevent collectors from putting damaging information on your credit report.
3. Talk to a Lawyer
You might find that after a certain amount of time, a debt collector will file a lawsuit for your unpaid debt. You don’t want to go to court alone, as many debt collectors use grimy tactics to make you look guilty — like filing without proof of the original debt. A lawyer from the National Association of Consumer Advocates can help protect you from wage garnishment.
4. Keep Records
You always want to keep all the records regarding the unpaid debt you’ve accumulated. Regardless of if you paid it off, if debt collectors came calling, or if a case was thrown out, you always want proof of what occurred to be on-hand forever.
You should also consider recording all interactions with a debt collector to ensure they are following the regulations set forth in consumer protection laws. In some places you need to request permission to record, but you want as much documentation as possible to protect yourself.
5. Safeguard Your Bank Accounts
What many people with unpaid debt don’t know is that Social Security and disability checks are exempt from any action debt collectors may take to freeze your funds. We recommend a separate bank account where you deposit those checks to ensure you still have a little bit of cash flow in case your other accounts are frozen. Tell debt collectors about any funds that are exempt.
With a few of these tips in your arsenal, it’s much easier to deal with debt collectors. For more financial advice, visit the Cash Factory USA blog here.