Friday, November 21, 2008

During these difficult financial times, some people are late making their payments. Are you one of them? Are bill collectors calling you? If so, here is some information that may help when talking to the debt collector.

1. Don't become hysterical and tell them all of your personal problems. Stay calm. Ask for details regarding the debt you owe, such as the name of the company, address, date the debt was incurred, and amount owed. Within 5 days after you're first contacted, the debt collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount you owe, the creditor to whom you owe the money, and what to do if you believe you don't owe the money.

2. Debt collectors have rights. They can contact you in person or by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. They can inform credit card bureaus of your unwillingness to pay, which will damage your credit.

3. You have rights, too. Debt collectors cannot use abusive language or threaten you. They cannot continue to call you at work if you have instructed them not to do so. Send the notice directly to the debt collector via certified mail, with a return receipt, to document proof the debt collector received your cease and desist notice.

4. Don't pay money you don't owe. If you decide to pay the debt, even if you don't owe it, just to get them to stop calling you, it is an admission of guilt and it will have a negative impact on your credit score. Dispute the claim in writing. If it is an old debt, check with your state attorney general's office. There is a statute of limitation on debt: generally 3 to 15 years.

5. Get help. If you are being harassed by debt collectors, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your state attorney general's office. If the debt collector has broken the law, you have the right to take action against them. Contact us.