As the country’s economic slump has continued, many people are finding themselves facing aggressive calls from the nation’s debt collection industry. Some of these people actually owe money that they cannot pay, but some people do not owe anything and are the victims of sloppy record-keeping or mistaken identity. Even if you do owe money that you are unable to repay, you have rights. Here are some techniques that you can use to protect yourself and limit the amount of contact you have with debt collectors.
Know What Your Rights Are
Many debt collection companies deliberately mislead debtors or omit information that could help a debtor reduce the amount of contact they have with debt collectors. If you know what your rights are under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you will lessen your risk of being taken advantage of or being deceived into paying money that you do not owe. Debtors’ rights vary by state, so do your research and keep yourself informed of the debt collection rules for your area. If you believe that a debt collection company is being deceptive, report them to the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and the Attorney General for your state.
Request Everything In Writing
One little known fact is that a debt collector cannot legally pursue you for a debt unless they provide you with a written statement outlining your debt within a certain time period of contacting you, typically five days. If this statement is requested and not provided within the time period and you are still receiving calls from the debt collector, you may have grounds to sue the company for harassment. These time period can vary by state, so check your local laws to learn what the specific time period is for your location.
Send The Collector A Cease-And-Desist Letter
The Fair Debt Collection Act gives you the power to demand, in writing, that a harassing debt collector stop calling you, so take advantage of this technique if you feel as if the calls are getting out of control or you are being called for money that you do not owe. Get the name of the company that is calling you and their address if you can, then send the company a cease-and-desist letter by certified mail requesting that they stop calling you to collect on the debt. After this letter has been received, the debt collector may have no other option than to try to sue you in court for the amount that they say you owe.