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When struggling to get out of debt, it's likely that you may cross paths with a collection agency at some point - a third party agency hired by your creditor to collect on your debt. Some collectors are more aggressive than others. It's important to know your rights as a consumer so that you don't fall victim to an aggressive collector employing unscrupulous methods. If you have past due accounts, it's important to know how to effectively deal with collectors and what recourse you have when confronted with overly aggressive tactics.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Congress investigated the collections industry and determined that there was "abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors." Because of this, they established the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is good to know the name of this act and some of the key protections it grants consumers, so when you talk to a collector, they realize they are dealing with an informed consumer who is ready to assert their rights. Some of the basic rights guaranteed by this Act are:
Collection agents may not:
*Check with your state attorney general's office.
If you find yourself confronted with a collector who hasn't adhered to the FDCPA, it's best to keep your composure and follow these steps:
Once you have informed them that you only want to be contacted by mail, the creditor may not call you except to inform you they are taking a specific action to collect the debt, such as filing a court order for a judgment. If they contact you after you have confirmation that they have received the certified letter:
If you suspect that a collection agent has crossed the line and violated the FDPA you have the right to:
You have the right to refuse to work with collectors, but if you decide to make payment arrangements make sure you get everything in writing before giving them any money. Whether you pay in full, negotiate for a percentage of the debt or accept a payment plan, get everything in writing and keep this as proof for at least 15 years.
Collectors are generally seasoned professionals and they may try a variety of tactics to get you to pay. Don't be intimidated into agreeing to payment arrangements that you can't afford. If you can't afford to pay your debt, seek your own professional help by calling CareOne at 1-800-CARE123, or visit us online at www.careonecredit.com. There are laws to protect you and multiple options available to help resolve your debt.
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