When a debt collector calls, the conversation often seems all too one-sided.
The collector makes impossible demands. Nothing you say penetrates.
Including your assertion that you don’t recognize the collector, the debt, or any legal responsibility for paying.
Or maybe you recognize the debt but simply don’t have the money to deal with old debt right now.
If you don’t get the collection conversation on track and productive, at best, the collector keeps calling.
At worst, they sue.
You need some tools for debt defense.
Your debt collection rights
Federal law, grounded in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, gives you both legal rights, and tools to enforce those rights.
Consider moving the conversation to paper where you can use those rights.
The new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has posted template letters that you can adapt for dealing with dubious debt collectors.
The Action Letters cover five different situations:
- You need more information about the supposed debt
- You dispute the debt and want it proved up
- You want to limit how and when the collector contacts you
- You’ve hired a lawyer and all contact should go to your counsel
- You want to stop any and all communication
Each letter is downloadable in word processing format. Each template includes both instructions on how and when to use the letter and background on your rights in context.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Chose the letter that fits your situation, add your facts, and get it in the mail.
Prepare to enforce your rights
If the debt collector violates the law concerning debt collection, you’ll need evidence.
Keep a copy of the letter. If the collector doesn’t respect your rights, you may have a lawsuit against the collector. Kinda turns the tables on the collector.
But to prevail in a lawsuit, you need proof.
So, keep a copy of the letter and consider sending it return receipt requested, so you have proof that it got to the collector.
Both bankruptcy lawyers and consumer lawyers generally handle suits to enforce your collection rights.
New limits on collection of old debts
Expanded consumer rights in debt collection
The threat to your retirement savings
Image courtesy of Flickr and Carly&Art