Navigating Debt Collection Calls with EaseJul 31, 2022 09:45PM ● By Carol Ann Aldridge
Sometimes life throws you curve balls, and you find yourself struggling to make ends meet. Life happens. While becoming behind on your financial obligations can be worrisome, talking to your debt collector(s) doesn’t have to be. A common misconception about debt collection is the collector isn’t concerned for you, but the truth is collectors are people just like you and they want to help you come up with solutions that create win-win situations. With that in mind, we have four tips for speaking to your collector(s):
Verify the debt is yours
As a consumer, you have the right to verify that a debt is yours. This will confirm that you haven’t already paid, force the debt collector to prove the debt is legitimate, and prove the person calling is authorized to collect the debt. To verify a debt, you would need to tell the collector that you wish to get a written “validation notice,” which would include all the above and a description of your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
Understand your rights
The FDCPA protects consumers from illegal, abusive and deceptive practices from debt collectors. This regulates when a collector can contact you (between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.), how they can contact you (by telephone, letters, emails or text messages) and how they can treat you. A collector cannot harass or lie to you in order to collect a debt.
Speak calmly and logically
Having a debt collector call you can be stressful and emotional. Knowing your rights and being knowledgeable about fair debt collection practices can help you feel confident in the call. Again, debt collectors are people, just like you, and they want to find a solution that benefits both parties. If you find yourself becoming anxious, speak calmly and friendly, but stay on topic.
If you can’t pay in full, set up a payment arrangement
Setting up a payment arrangement with your collector allows you to create a payment that works for you and your budget. Make sure to always get the payment arrangement in writing from your collector and know that if you miss a payment, the collector may abandon the agreement. Having the agreement in writing will ensure that both parties are aware of the arrangement and prevent you from potentially being chased twice for the debt if you aren’t paying the full payment each month.
A final note, please remember that while becoming behind on your financial obligations can be worrisome, talking to your debt collector(s) doesn’t have to be. Be knowledgeable, be aware and take charge of your financial future. Understand that collectors not only help you get your debts back in good standing but can also provide you with useful information to prevent collections in the first place. If you find yourself struggling financially, contact your creditors immediately so they can assist you. We want you to be able to erase “afraid” from your vocabulary and pay off debt with confidence!
Carol Ann Aldridge is a certified lending counselor for Alive Credit Union. For more information about Alive Credit Union, call 904-296-1292 or visit Alivecu.coop.