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What Not To Say To Debt Collectors


In a perfect world, you would not have to deal with debt collectors at all.  If you have debts you cannot afford to pay, as more than half of all Americans do, then eventually the debt collectors start calling you.  Your instinct might be to curse them out and hang up the phone or to ignore the call, but you should not let your fight or flight instinct win when dealing with phone calls from debt collectors.  Instead, you should say just enough to buy yourself some additional time to think.  Then you should contact a Philadelphia consumer law attorney to strategize about which debts to attempt to settle and which ones to attempt to discharge.

Ask Questions but Don’t Show Your Cards

Debt collectors will say whatever the law allows, and sometimes things the law does not allow, to intimidate you into paying the debts they claim that you owe them.  They do not care whether, if you pay the amount they are asking for, you will not even have enough money left for necessities like groceries and rent.  Anything you say to a debt collector can and will be used against you to pressure you into paying.  Don’t tell the debt collector any additional contact information, such as additional phone numbers or the names, addresses, or phone numbers of your family members.  Whatever you do, do not tell the debt collector your bank account number or social security number.

You have the right to request a debt verification letter, and you should request it.  You should review it to ensure that the amount is accurate and there are no inflated charges.  You may provide your address so that the debt collector can send you the debt verification letter.

Buy Time and Leave a Paper Trail by Communicating in Writing

Remember that if you make a payment on the debt, you reset the statute of limitations for its collection.  Therefore, instead of paying on the phone, review the debt verification letter on your own time.  If you decide that you have enough money to pay part of the debt, but not the whole thing at once, write back to the debt collector, offering to settle for a lump sum or enter a payment plan.  Third party collection agencies which have bought old debts for a pittance will still make a profit if you settle the debt for 25 percent of its original amount.  In some cases, the best choice is simply to let the statute of limitations on the debt run out.  With the help of a bankruptcy lawyer, you may also be able to discharge the debt in bankruptcy.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Third-party debt collection agencies rely on borrowers’ lack of knowledge of their rights.  A consumer law attorney can help you avoid falling into the traps that debt collectors set for cash-strapped borrowers.  Contact Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com to set up a free, confidential consultation.

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