It’s Time to Answer the Phone!
Your phone rings, you look at the number on the caller ID and you don’t know the number and its an out of town area code. You know it’s a debt collector, you immediately ignore the call or just let it ring straight to voicemail. Let’s be honest, you probably very rarely check that message either. It can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. That stress and fear comes from lack of control. We are here to teach you how to take control of that situation and start eliminating that stress.
You Have Rights!
Every consumer is guaranteed rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Know Your Rights! Here is just a few of those rights…
- Debt Collectors can call only between the hours of 8am-9pm
- Debt Collectors cannot use abusive language. You cannot be threatened. That includes threatening to be arrested, sued, or even have your wages garnished without a court order. In which they have to permitted by law to take legal action, most 3rd party collection agencies do not have those rights.
- Social Security, Veterans Pay, Disability, Federal Retirement cannot be garnished.
- Debt Collectors cannot call your family, friends, or employer and discuss your debt. They can however call to try and obtain personal contact information about you.
- Debt Collectors cannot falsely represent who they are. They cannot pretend to be a government agency or attorney.
There are many more rights, but the rights mentioned above is a good start and are great to know. Like GI JOE said “Knowing is Half the Battle”
About the Debt Scavengers!
You need to know what is going on! Debt scavengers buy your old debt from the primary lender for pennies on the dollar. This information they receive is often minimal and the debt collectors can often receive wrong, inaccurate, and incomplete information. This may not be your debt and they are required by law to verify it. When you answer that call, do not give them any personal information. Volunteering this information can help the scavengers verify this debt and make it more difficult to dispute and resolve. You will want to ask them to send you written proof of the debt they are calling you about using only the information they have.
- DO NOT admit guilt or acknowledge that the debt is indeed yours.
- DO NOT make any sort of payment arrangements.
- DO NOT give information about your employment.
- DO NOT give any banking information.
- DO NOT give or verify Social Security Numbers
- DO NOT give physical or email address
Admitting that a debt is yours helps the debt collector verify the debt. Do not give any information or reasons why the debt went bad to begin with. If you make payment arrangement you can reanimate an old debt that could have easily been removed from your credit bureaus. Always make them validate the debt first. If the debt is validated, making a payment arrangement or paying the debt off may be the only way to close out the account. Keep in mind the damage has already been done to your credit, but do not hurt yourself even more. Try to negotiate a “Pay to Delete” or even settle for less than what is owed. Any agreement you and the debt collector make, be sure to get it in writing before submitting any payments. Giving any information about your employment, bank accounts, social security number, or address is helping that debt collector. Do not fall for these tricks!
Answer That Call!
Now that you have some good information about your rights and what information you do not want to give to the collection agency, let’s talk about the information you do want to receive and what information they must provide you.
- Debt Collectors must state the amount owed.
- Debt Collectors must give you the name or the creditor.
- Debt Collectors must give you their information.
- Debt Collectors must verify the debt.
When a debt collector calls they have to give you the amount owed. They cannot add additional fees or charges to the original debt. They have to provide the name of the originating creditor. Find out if the debt has been sold to a third party or if the caller is a collection agent for the primary creditor. The caller has to provide their information. This is important as it becomes difficult for the third party collection agencies to verify debt. If they cannot verify the debt, it becomes easier to get removed.
It is important to take notes when receiving calls from debt collectors. Even better if you can record the conversation. Know your laws about recording phones calls and what may or may not have to advised when doing so. You have the right to tell them to stop calling you. Advise them of your FDCPA and FCRA rights. If a debt collector violates any of your rights, you can in turn sue them for damages. If you feel that your rights have been violated and would like a recommendation for an attorney, definitely contact us here at Commonwealth Credit Solutions and we would be glad to link you up with a good attorney in your area.
Remember, if you are having credit or financial issues Commonwealth Credit Solutions is here to help. The Consult, Education, and Analysis is completely free! We can help dispute, remove, and resolve any of these issues you are experiencing.