Friday, August 29, 2008

What do you do if a debt collector has contacted you?

Once you have been contacted by telephone, the debt collector must outline your debt, stating the amount, whom you owe the money to, and what action to take if you don't owe the money. If you don't owe the debt, you must write a letter stating you don't owe the money within 30 days.

If you decide to pay the debt, even if you don't owe it, just to get rid of the debt collector, it is an admission of guilt and it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

There is a statute of limitations on debt. Generally 3 to 15 years. Check with your state attorney general's office to find out the limit in your state (Florida State Attorney General's website: http://myfloridalegal.com). Do not accept new credit offers from a creditor you never repaid. Once your credit relationship is renewed, the statute of limitations starts over again.

If you have been treated unfairly, contact your state attorney general's office. You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 877-FTC-HELP or go to www.ftc.gov.

You have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court within a year of the date the law is violated. You may recover money for the damages you suffered plus additional amount up to $1,000. A group may also sue a collector for damages up to $500,000 or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

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