When dealing with a debt collector, you have plenty of rights, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Here are six things to know when a third-party debt collector contacts you.
Within five days of contacting you, a collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe, the name of the creditor and what action to take if you believe you don’t owe the money, according to the debt collection act. So before engaging in chitchat with a debt collector, ask him or her to send you the information in writing.
If you don’t believe you owe the money, dispute the debt in writing. Send the debt collector a letter within 30 days of receiving the written notice stating you do not owe money, a debt collector cannot contact you. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter as part of a paper trail on your debt, says Gerri Detweiler, the Sarasota, Fla.-based co-author of “Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights.” Further, your response to the collector should be sent by certified mail. “You must send certified,” says Jeffrey Suher, a consumer attorney in Pittsburgh specializing in debt collection cases. “Otherwise, they’ll deny receiving it.”
The law gives the debt collector some rights, too. A debt collection firm can renew collection activities if it provides you with proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill you owe. Keep a file with notes from phone conversations and copies of all written correspondence to and from the collector. If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, immediately inform the debt collector of your bankruptcy filing.
Write down the day and time of every collection call, the collection agency’s name, the amount it says you owe and a summary of the conversation, Detweiler says. A paper trail could be essential if it turns out the debt collector breaks the law,” Written by Lucy Lazarony. See more at BankRate.com