When a creditor sends your delinquent account to a collection agency, collection calls are soon to follow. If you fall behind on your payments or stop paying them altogether, you want to be prepared when that first collection call arrives. Although it might be worth considering a debt relief program, it’s still important to take the time to plan out how you’ll respond to collection calls until you’ve resolved your situation. Being prepared means you’ll be less likely to get into an argument or agree to payment terms that aren’t in your best interest. Here’s what to do so you’re able to handle collection calls calmly — and with confidence.
Discuss Your Situation on Your Terms
Just because you get a call from a collection agency doesn’t mean you must drop everything to immediately respond. If you don’t have the time to put your full attention into the discussion, ask the caller to get back with you at a time that’s better for you and when you’re ready to speak.
Be Prepared Ahead of the Call
When you fall behind on a loan or credit account, you should anticipate a debt collection call. Be prepared with paper and pen handy to write down your conversation. The caller has the advantage of taping your discussion, so be sure your notes are detailed. Include the date and time of the call, the name of the caller, the agency’s name and address, the amount you allegedly owe and the name and address of the original creditor. Your notes will come in handy if you’re ever facing a collector in court.
Don’t Offer Details
You want to collect as much information as possible from a collection call, without giving up too much of your own. You may be asked about your income, debt and other personal information, but until you have the details and the reason for the call and are ready to settle the debt, it is best to not volunteer any answers. Debt collectors can access some of the information they need on their own from your credit report.
Request a detailed notice be sent by mail and the name and address of the collection agency, in case you have the need to write a cease and desist letter. If an updated address is required, you can share that information, as they can access it through the credit bureau anyway.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Don’t be intimidated into negotiating on your first contact from a collection agency. Collection agents are taught to play on guilt. In an effort to right a wrong, many people make the mistake of making a payment or agreeing to payment arrangements too quickly. Don’t respond before you’ve confirmed that the debt it yours and that it hasn’t passed the statue of limitations on collections.
Some important questions to ask include:
- Is the debt mine?
- What can I afford to pay?
- I have more than one delinquent account; is this the one I should work to make right with my limited resources?
- Would it be better to deal with the original creditor?
Keep the conversation short and hang up, if you feel pressured. After the conversation, action is required by either disputing the debt, mailing a cease and desist letter, requesting a pay for delete, making a settlement offer or paying the debt in full.
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