When we fall behind on our bills, we get past due notices from creditors. If those notices go unanswered,the creditor closes the account. The creditor sells the debt to a debt collector and they call you.

Here is what to do when that call comes in. Here are five tips:

  1. Answer the call. No one wants to answer a call from a debt collector. With caller ID, it is relatively easy to find out if it is a person you know or not. You answering the call triggers the debt collectors  send you a Dun Letter. All you have to do is pick up the phone and hang it up.
  2. Watch for a letter in the mail. Based on the FDCPA, a bill collection agency must, within 5 days of phoning, send you a written notice. The notice must consist of specific information, like the identity of the creditor, the amount owed, and that you have 30 days to dispute the debt or it will be assumed that you agree you owe the money.If no letter arrives, the debt collector has breached the FDCPA. Often, debt collectors count on you not understanding that you have 30 days to dispute. DO NOT BURY YOUR HEAD. I can virtually guarantee you the debt collectors are looking for the low hanging fruit – those items easy to collect. A lot of times, by you answering and demanding your rights within the law, the Debt Collectors move on.
  3. Maintain good records. Most debt collectors – particularly those who have purchased vast amounts of junk debt for pennies on the dollar (see my previous blog) – try and get around the law or even break the law. It is a cost of doing business for them. If you are getting calls or letters from a debt collector, keep a record of the date and time of each and every call or the date you received the notice. For phone calls, jot down the debt collector’s name and phone number (yes, they have to identify themselves), time of the contact, and what was stated. (It is so easy now to record phone calls that you may opt for that. Google has a free phone service and Skype is wonderful for that.Be sure that you comply with the law for your state in the recording of the phone call. Some states, you must specify you are taping the phone call and some you do not have to let them know). The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has strict requirements about debt collection calls
  4. Dispute your debt. Dispute the debt within 30 days. Even if you owe, forcing the debt collector to substantiate the debt provides you with some time to put together plans.Please, Please, Please remember: If you do pay it off and it is on your credit report, your credit score will go down!!! The payoff of a debt in collection MUST be handled appropriately or you will be hurt further.
  5. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that a debt collector cannot continue to collect on the debt until it’s verified. If they carry on and attempt to collect while the debt is contested, they’re violating the law. It might be wise to pull a credit report to see if it is on.If they continue to contact you, you can send them a Cease and Desist letter, which mandates they must stop contacting you, unless they are changing the status of their collection efforts. (If you need a Cease and Desist Letter, let me know and I can send you one). If it does not stop them, that is another violation of the law.

There is a recent book I wrote entitled Debt Collectors: Lies, Damn Lies, And Deceit. Click here to buy the book: DEBT COLLECTORS: LIES, DAMN LIES AND DECEIT.