If you’re late on your bill payments, there’s a chance that a debt collector may contact you. Before you receive that phone call, it’s a good idea to understand just how you should handle the situation.
First, know that in the first five days after contacting you (or before), a debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” explaining how much money you owe and the name of the creditor. If you don’t think you owe money, the notice will also include information on how you should proceed.
If you doubt whether you actually owe debt, you have the option to send a letter to the debt collector stating that you don’t owe the money they’re requesting or requesting verification. The letter must be sent within 30 days after you receive the validation notice. The debt collector must stop contacting you, until they send you the written verification of the debt.
When in the midst of dealing with a debt collector, it’s important to know what to say and what not to say. While debt collectors can be annoying, you should try to refrain from using vulgar language with them. It is also a good idea to refrain from releasing certain personal information to them such as:
- Your social security number, bank account number or credit card information (unless you want to pay the debt).
- Information about your employment situation or your assets
- And never agree that you owe a debt if you think you do not, without having it verified.
While we would like to believe that everyone who contacts us as a debt collector is honest, scams do happen. It’s always a good idea to get written proof of the collector’s identity and verification of who they are before you release your personal information. Also, make sure to maintain thorough records of your interactions with the collector.