Ignoring a debt collector’s call is unlikely to make them stop contacting you. The best initial step for many folks who have been avoiding debt collectors is to simply pick up the phone. If you tell your creditors and debt collectors about your situation, they may be willing to work with you. However, before you do anything else, take the proper steps to ensure the debt about which you’re being contacted is, in fact, your own.
We’ll touch on that in more detail a little bit later.
What is s Debt Collector?
In a way, it can be said a debt collection firm helps people pay off their debts. These organizations pursue payments of debts owed by individuals or businesses. Certain debt collectors may try to collect debts that you are not responsible for.
Because the debt collector’s main goal is to collect payment, it is your responsibility to protect yourself if this occurs. If a debt collector contacts you or sends you a letter, never accept responsibility for the debt, until it’s proven to be yours and collectible.
How Does a Debt Collector Get Your Information?
You might feel a debt isn’t yours if an agency you’ve never heard of contacts you to collect on it. Keep in mind, however, that the organization contacting you may not be the same one with whom you had a debt in the first place.
As a result, it’s critical that you know how to respond when you’re contacted by debt collection organizations. Do not be concerned about how the agency received your address or phone number; it might have come from a variety of sources, including the original creditor, your credit record, or an online search.
If a debt collector obtained your personal information from the original creditor, they will have access to your address, the amount owed, and the company to which you owed money. If you’re dealing with reputable debt collectors, they should have no reservations about disclosing information about your account. Before taking responsibility for the debt, including offering any sort of settlement whatsoever, send them a validation letter in which you ask for written proof of your responsibility.
What Should You Do When a Debt Collector Contacts You?
Verify the Debt
Before agreeing to pay anything, double-check to ensure that the debt is yours — and whether the statute of limitations on the debt has expired. Even if the letter or call appears to be genuine, the debt may be not. Alternatively, the debt collector may have resurrected an old debt that you no longer owe in the hopes of getting you to pay.
Debt collectors should provide verification of the debt. You have the right to request official verification of the debt in dispute if you make a written complaint within 30 days after the collector’s original written notification of debt.
Any legitimate debt collector should be able to comply with your request without difficulty. This will also stop any collection activity until the legitimacy of the debt is determined. Inquire about the account summary, as well as any associated paperwork, for the debt you’re being requested to pay. This should be sufficient to fix the matter if the debt is not genuinely yours.
You should also get a copy of your credit report and check to see if the debt in question is shown there. There’s a risk that a valid debt won’t show up on your credit report because credit reporting isn’t perfect, but it’s a small chance.
If it turns out the debt is yours and valid, look into debt relief programs like those offered by Freedom Debt Relief to help you settle the debt. You can learn more at the company’s website.
If the debt collector contacting you is seeking to resurrect an old debt that you have already paid, provide the collector with proof of payment. This proof could be a copy of your cancelled checks or a copy of your bank statement payment. You can also request a copy of your account statement by contacting the original creditor. This will reflect that you have previously paid the debt.
If you do have a debt, though, you should discuss your payment plans and consider one of the alternative debt relief programs for satisfying the obligation.