In the current economy, more people are running into difficulties paying their debts. One result of people being out of work for extended periods of time is that collection efforts have been stepped up by collection agencies. Their aggressive tactics continue in spite of the fact that so many people are out of work. The first thing that you should always remember when dealing with a collection agency is this: They do not make any money unless you pay the debt they are managing. They are motivated to collect the debt, regardless of the cost of doing so. All too often collection agencies use less than scrupulous methods of collecting old debts.
Consumer protection laws
Consumer protection laws across the United States can help protect consumers from those unscrupulous collection efforts. Collection agencies are not going to tell you your rights however, it is up to you to know what they are. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, there are a number of remedies that are readily available to consumers. One remedy that is seldom talked about is that credit collection companies cannot contact you if you ask them not to. Section 805 of the statutes regarding communication in connection with debt collection [15 USC 1692c] state very clearly that if you request in writing that a collection agent stop calling you, they must stop. You may send a letter asking them to cease and desist.
Debts have statute of limitations
You may be surprised to learn that individual states have enacted statutes of limitations on bad credit. Not that this should be considered a “way out” of your debt, but, you still should know your rights. The statute of limitations begins ticking the day you make your very last payment on a debt. Depending on the state and the type of debt, these limits range from 3 years to 15 years. What a credit collection company will not tell you is that if you make even a token payment, you “restart” the clock on the statute of limitations. Many consumers who are in dire financial straits fall for this form of trickery from collection agencies. Remember, the older the debt, the more likely they are to pursue you relentlessly.
Free Credit Reports
Nearly all of us have heard the catchy music associated with the commercial telling you that you are entitled to a free credit report. The problem with that catchy commercial is that “free is not free”. They require you to enroll in a “warning” service to get your credit report. However, under Consumer Protection Laws you are entitled to a free (no strings attached) credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The website Annual Credit Report is set up to handle these requests. You can request all three reports from this site at no charge, with no catches.
Chances are if you have a blemish on your credit report, you have received one or more letters or emails telling you how to “repair your credit”. Do not fall for these gimmicks. These agencies are going to do something you can do yourself, which is dispute information on your report in the hopes that someone will fail to meet the mandatory requirements for responding to disputes. The sad part is they are going to charge you hundreds of dollars (and possibly an ongoing monthly fee) for doing this. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you should dispute information yourself and even provides a free dispute form.
Do not allow credit collection agencies to victimize you. Make sure that you understand your rights and exercise them. Use every free and legal method available to you to stop collection calls. Understand all of the legal avenues available to you to dispute inaccurate information and legally clear your credit report free of charge.