It doesn’t matter if you’re surprised to hear from a debt collector or you were expecting the call, nothing changes the fact that you have legal rights that you need to protect. If you don’t know what you should and shouldn’t do, it’s possible that you’ll make a mistake that causes additional stress.
One of the best things you can do is turn the tables on the debt collector by asking a series of questions. Not only does this show them that you are on the ball, but it allows you to gather more information about your situation. Here’s where you should start:
- Where are you calling from? In short, you want to know the name of the debt collection company, as well as their address. Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the collector is required by law to provide you with this information if you ask.
- What are the details of the debt? Even if you know which debt they’re calling about, ask for additional information. For example, you want to know the name of the original creditor and amount owed.
- Are there any fees and interest on the account? In addition to the original amount, you may find that the debt collector is attempting to collect for fees and interest, too. Knowing how much is fees and how much is interest is important.
- How did you calculate the amount of debt? Once again, the collector must be able to provide this information as a protection under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- What are my options? If you agree that you owe the debt, learn more about your options for paying it. Don’t assume that you have to make a lump sum payment, as there are likely to be other ideas you can consider. A payment plan is a common strategy, as it gives you the opportunity to repay your debt over an extended period of time. If you agree to this, be sure the collector shares the appropriate information with you, in writing, before you start making payments.
It’s your hope that you never fall so far behind on an account that it’s sent to collections, but this could happen to you at some point. If it does, be sure to protect your legal rights in Minnesota under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.