5 Steps To Stop Debt Collection Harassment

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Stop those harassing phone calls and letters with these five steps.

Being harassed by a debt collection agency? You’re not alone. These collection calls are on the rise due to banks selling old debts for pennies on the dollar to third-party debt collectors.  Much of this debt is old and may not even be accurate. And while many collection agencies strictly adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), many others follow harassing tactics to try to collect—whether you owe or not.

There are ways to stop debt collection harassment, however. Follow these five steps.

1. Know your rights…and let the collection agencies know. You have several protections under the FDCPA, including when, where and how collection agencies may contact you, as well as the information they must provide when asked. Let the agency contacting you know that you understand these rights.

2. Put your rights into practice. Ask for the name and address of the collection agency, as well as the name of the company where the debt originated and the amount and date of the original debt. Then, ask the collection agency to send you a letter that proves the debt exists and is yours. Once you have that letter, you begin to take the necessary steps to get rid of old debt. Next, send a cease and desist letter to the address of the collection agency, telling them to stop contacting you immediately—send this via certified mail.

3. Do your research. Collection agencies that practice harassing techniques may be hesitant to provide you their address or any of the information they are required to under the FDCPA. In these instances, you’ll need to do some digging. Likely, the company will provide you with its phone number so ask for it. If the company inquires, simply state you wish to research the matter and want a way to stay in touch. Once you have the phone number, you can try researching it online or simply calling the number to see if the receptionist will provide you with the company name and address. If all else fails, order your credit report. The name and address of the collection agency should be listed if they have made an inquiry into your credit history.

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4. Hire an attorney. Whether you’re being harassed or do owe a large amount of debt, consider hiring an attorney. Many specialize in suing debt collectors, so agencies will often back down once they know you’ve obtained legal counsel. And, if you are being wrongly targeted, you could receive compensation under the FDCPA for any financial harm the collection agency has caused you.

5. Complain to business and federal agencies. File a detailed description of your experience online with major business tracking agencies, like the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs and ACA International (the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals). Also be sure to file a complaint with your state’s Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  When enough complaints are received, the government will begin a federal investigation.

Remember, even if the debt if yours it’s up to the collection agency to prove it. And while you should never ignore an unpaid debt claim, until the agency can prove it is your debt and is still owed, do not acknowledge—or make partial payments on—the debt.

This article contains general information. Individual situations are unique; please, consult your attorney before utilizing any of the information contained in this article.

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Source: Neighborhood Link, FTC.gox, MSNMoney.com, ABC News
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