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10 WAYS TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST A DEBT COLLECTOR
|HANG UP. A
debt collector has no right to threaten, harass or insult you. If
they do, hang up the phone.
PRIORTIZE YOUR BILLS. No
matter what a debt collector says, an unpaid credit card bill
is not the most important bill you have to pay this month. Providing
necessities for your family comes first.
LEARN YOUR RIGHTS. When
collecting a debt from you, a debt collector must play fair. For
details, check out the consumer brochure on fair debt collection
from the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their
own debt collection laws. For more information, contact
the attorney general' s office in your state.
ASK FOR A SUPERVISOR. Request that
you speak to a manager or supervisor at the debt collection company. Make
it clear that you understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act and you want the abuse to stop. You don' t
threaten the smart ones. You pick and choose your victims for
lack of a better term. We rely on the ignorance of the debtor.
CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. Once you have
an attorney, a debt collector must contact the attorney, rather
than you. An attorney may be able to answer questions regarding
your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and specific
debt collection laws in your state. To find an attorney near
you. CONTACT FORREST FREEDMAN FORRESTFREEDMAN@AOL.COM
GET PROOF. If a
debt collector is breaking the law and harassing you, you' ll
need evidence. If its legal in your state, you can tape the
conversation. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia
allow you to secretly tape your phone conversations. You' ll
also want to keep a paper trail. File all collection letters
and keep detailed notes of collection calls. Note the day and
time of each call, the name of the collection agency, the first
and last name of the caller and what was said.
STOP CONTACT. The Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act give you the right to cease contact with a debt collector. You
can stop a debt collector from contact you by writing a letter to
the collector and telling them to stop.
A PHONE CALL WON”T WORK. It' s
a good idea to send the letter certified mail, so you' ll have
proof that the debt collector received it. Once the collector
receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say
there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt
collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Sending
a letter to a collector will not make a debt go away if you owe
the money. The debt collector or your original creditor may
still sue you.
IF YOU DON' T OWE THE MONEY, DISPUTE THE DEBT. A
debt collector must send you written notice telling you the amount
of money you owe and the name of the creditor. If within 30
days of receiving this notice you send a debt collector a letter
stating you do not owe the money, a debt collector may not contact
you. It' s a good idea to send this letter certified mail,
so you' ll have proof that the debt collector received it. A
collector could renew collection activities if proof of the debt,
such as a copy of a bill, is sent to you.
FILE COMPLAINTS. Report debt collection
problems and abuse to your state attorney general' s office
and the Federal Trade Commission. You can also report a debt
collector to the Better Business Bureau.
SUE. If a debt collector has violated the law, you have
the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within
one year from the date the law as violated. If you win, you
may recover money fro the damages you suffered plus an additional
amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney' s fees
also may be recovered. A group of people may sue a debt collector
and recover money fro damages up to $500,000, or 1 percent of the
collector' s net worth, whichever is less.
Sources: National Consumer Law Center and Fair Debt Collection,
a brochure for consumers from the Federal Trade Commission.
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