Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dealing With Debt Collectors-Part 2

If you are contacted by a collection agency regarding erroneous bills or debts, it could be an indication of identity theft; an imposter may be using your identity to make purchases, open accounts and obtain credit.

Review your credit report to quickly identify fraudulent activity or make corrections.

What if you are being contacted by debt collectors about debt that you do owe? Here's some advice from the Better Business Bureau:

Know your responsibilities. It is not against the law for a debt collector or creditor to contact you regarding unpaid debts. Try working with them to resolve issues. Discuss a payment plan and request obligations in writing.

Complain about abusive practices. Report harassment, threats and other violations of federal telemarketing laws to the FTC. File a BBB complaint if you believe a debt collector is acting unethically. Also, research state laws on debt collectors, which may vary.

Stop collector calls. According to federal law, a debt collector cannot continue to contact you — at work or home — if you tell them to stop. Write a letter telling them not to contact you anymore. Save a copy of the letter then send the original via certified mail and request a return receipt. If a debt is owed, the collector or creditor can still take legal action to collect funds and may contact you to inform you of their action.

Know your rights. Review the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which sets standards for collection agencies and prohibits abusive tactics. The FDCPA is enforced by the FTC and violations should be reported.

Debt collectors:
May not make false or deceptive claims.
Are not allowed to make idle threats, express or implied, or use abusive or profane language.
Should not discuss consumers' accounts with unauthorized third parties.
May not inaccurately report credit information and pressure consumers to pay debts they do not owe.
Must investigate the validity of a dispute over a debt.

Report Scams. Debt collection victims can file complaints with the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Internet Crime Complaint Center, State Attorney General's Office and other local consumer affairs agencies.

The American Collectors Association (ACA International) processes complaints on its member debt collectors; find out if the debt collection agency is a member.


If you need help managing your credit, check out the BBB's tips for getting out of debt.

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