1. Know the Law – There are certain things collectors can and cannot say to you. For example a collector cannot threaten you in any way. This includes threatening you with a lawsuit. If a collector says they are going to obtain a judgment against you then they have to follow through. There are also statute laws regarding the age of debts and how long a collection can be reported to credit agencies. Know the facts before you speak with anyone.
2. Negotiate – The fact is that the older a debt the less likely someone is to pay on it and a debt collector knows this. You can negotiate down your debt and in most cases get some or all of the interest and fees waived.
3. 3rd- Party Disclosure Laws – A debt collector cannot discuss your account with anyone other than your spouse. Unless you give them explicit permission to discuss your account with anyone else they are not even allowed to leave a message as to why they are calling for you.
4. Get a receipt – Always get a receipt when you do pay your collection account. You may need it in the future. Debts are bought and sold all the time and another agency may very well call and try and collect on an account you have already paid off. Don’t let the collector tell you that your cancelled check is your receipt they need to provide you with one for your records. Never trust that a collection agency is going to mark your account as paid and not sell it to someone else.
5. Complain to the original creditor – If you are having problems with a debt collector or an agency harassing you or violating any laws one of the best places to take your complaint is the original creditor. Collection agencies are constantly battling each other for business and too many complaints against an agency may cause them to lose a client.
Remember that debt collectors and debt collection agencies have a strict set of rules they must follow when collection. Each state has set its own rules regarding conduct so make sure you know your states laws. Recording all conversations is a great way to ensure that you will not be taken advantage of by a collector and will provide the necessary proof should you need to report the agency.For an insiders look at collection agencies and collectors read: Ghoul: A Dark and Humorous Look at Collection agencies by Bob Gage available at www.pikeminnowpublishing.com