At one time or another all of us have been contacted by bill collectors. We get behind on credit card bills, medical bills, mortgages, the list goes on and on. Once we receive that first letter or phone call from these bill collectors, the mental nightmare begins. Despite the laws that govern the actions bill collectors are allowed to take, you can count on them calling at inconvenient hours of the day– at home or at work, they will contact your family or employers and they can be rude if you do not answer to their initial inquiries.

Whether the bill collectors call themselves credit representatives, account supervisors, or collection agents, their job is to get money out of your pocket and into theirs. Typically, bill collectors are paid about 25% of whatever money you pay them. When you do receive letters, you can expect them to be computer generated and without a signature on them. Bill collectors often threaten to report you to credit reporting agencies until you come up with the amount that you owe.

Time for some good news, you have legal rights which protect you against all of the above practices and any practice that I did not mention. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that “bill collectors can’t harass, opress or abuse you are anyone else that they contact.” If you get a letter stating that you owe money and you believe that there has been a mistake, I recommend that you write a letter of complaint to both the collection agency and the original creditor informing them of the mistake.

Whenever you write to a bill collector or to the reporting agency, you should always sign the letter, date it, and keep a copy for your own file. If you just call the bill collector to say you do not owe the money there is no guarantee that there will be a permanent record of it. So as long as you have something in writing you will be protected.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if a bill collector harasses you at your house, you are not obligated to speak with them. You may even report it as trespassing. If you believe you are being harassed by debt collectors you should document any and all discussions with them and truthfully if the harassment gets out of control you are also legally able to sue. You could bring any actions into small claims court or hire a lawyer. We hope none of these scenarios are familiar in your life but if they are, contact us. We can help.


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