A recent CNN article highlights some of the craziest, most outrageous debt collection scams out there, including threats to harm pets and even exhume deceased relatives’ bodies!
Of course, most debt collectors are not scammers. Here are some quick tips to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate collection agency:
- If you’re not sure whether the debt is valid, ask for a written verification. Debt collectors are required to provide proof that the debt is valid and is owed by you.
- NEVER make a payment by phone to a debt collector who calls you. Once you’ve received written verification of the debt, and you believe the debt is valid, make a payment to the address provided. If you can, try to pay the creditor using your bank’s online bill pay service. Bill pay services guard your personal checking account information while still providing the convenience and tracking of a personal check.
- Keep good records. Make sure the payment is credited to the proper accounts. You’ll want to make sure that you keep the contact information for the debt collector in case you need to contact them later to correct an error or misapplied payment.
- Check your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once per year at www.annualcreditreport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228, or by sending a written request by mail. If the debt still appears on your credit report after you’ve paid it and allowed reasonable time for the debt to be reported, you may need to open a dispute with the credit reporting bureau.
If you have more debt than you can handle, or you’d like to talk to an attorney about negotiating debt settlements, contact our office for a free, confidential consultation with an attorney to discuss your options. We’re glad to talk about your situation and help you come up with a plan that fits your needs.