If you’re behind on payments, you may start getting calls from collection agents. These calls can be frequent and persistent, which can be extremely stressful. It’s important to know your rights when it comes to debt collection so that you can decide whether or not to deal with them. In this article, we’ll take a look at questions to answer before you pay a debt collector.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that sets out certain rules that collection agents must follow. For example, the FDCPA prohibits collectors from making false or misleading statements, using abusive or threatening language, or calling consumers outside of the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Each year, the FTC receives hundreds of thousands of complaints against debt collection agents. With this n mind, it’s important to note there are ways to stop debt collector calls.
Before You Pay A Debt Collector, Ask:
1. How much do I owe?
The first step is to figure out how much you actually owe. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people end up paying a debt collector more than they actually owe. Sometimes debt collectors will try to collect on a debt that’s already been paid off, or they may try to collect interest and fees that aren’t actually owed.
2. Is the statute of limitations expired?
In most states, there’s a statute of limitations on debt collection. This means that after a certain amount of time has passed, a debt collector can no longer sue you for payment. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it’s important to check on this before you agree to pay anything.
3. What are the consequences of not paying?
Before you agree to pay a debt collector, it’s important to understand the consequences of not paying. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan or settlement that’s less than what you actually owe. But in other cases, the debt collector may take you to court, and you could end up owing even more money.
4. Can I dispute the debt?
If you believe that you don’t actually owe the debt, or if the amount being demanded is incorrect, you have the right to dispute the debt. Once you dispute the debt, the debt collector must stop trying to collect from you until they’ve verified that the debt is accurate.
5. What will happen if I make a partial payment?
If you make a partial payment on a debt, the debt collector may continue to try to collect the rest of the debt from you. In some cases, they may even renew the statute of limitations, so it’s important to understand the implications of making a partial payment before you do so.
6. Do I need to pay in full, or can I negotiate a settlement?
In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with the debt collector for less than what you actually owe. This is more likely to be successful if you’re able to offer a lump sum payment. But it’s important to understand that once you agree to a settlement, you’re typically required to pay the agreed-upon amount in full, and you may not be able to dispute the debt again.
7. Can I set up a payment plan?
If you’re unable to pay the debt in full, you may be able to set up a payment plan with the debt collector. This is typically done by making regular payments over a period of time until the debt is paid off. It’s important to make sure that you understand the terms of the payment plan before agreeing to it, as you may be responsible for paying additional fees or interest.
If you’re behind on payments and struggling to keep up, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have debt that they can’t afford to pay off.
The Bottom Line
Knowing your rights can help you decide whether to deal with debt collectors or not. There are some questions to answer before you pay a debt collector. If a collection agent is harassing you, you may want to seek legal assistance. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options and protect you from unfair or illegal debt collection practices.