Stop avoiding those pesky calls. Here are four tips for situations that deal with collectors.

Resist unfair collecting practices.

If collectors are violating the FDCPA and harassing you, the consumers must assert their legal rights. You should notify the Federal Trade Commission and their state’s attorney general or Department of Consumer Affairs in writing, including the recorded information about the harassing phone calls if possible. As with all correspondence, these letters should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt request. This provides proof that the notification was delivered and received. Using certified mail with a return receipt is a good practice for all communication between the consumer and the creditor.

Communicate with creditors.

Communicating clearly with collectors is very important. Financial expert (and former collector) Chris Hogan stresses the role of communication in the process and offers these three tips:

• Don’t avoid collectors!
• Speak facts when dealing with collectors.
• Script out some notes ahead of time so you feel more prepared.

Keep good records on every collection contact. In addition to sending correspondence through certified mail with
a return receipt, you should also take notes on phone conversations. These notes should include the name of the collector, the date and time of the call, points covered during the discussion, and the agreed-upon plan of action. Always try to talk to the same person to avoid the risk of having to start from the beginning with each call.

Understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

In 1977, Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which sets guidelines for all debt collectors and how they conduct their business. The main objective of the FDCPA is to end manipulation and other emotional attacks. The individuals who seek your help may not be familiar with these guidelines or their rights under this law. As a result, they fall victim to illegal collecting practices.

Protect your Four Walls first.

When you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, it’s easy to panic. You may even be getting calls from creditors, final notices in the mail, and your electric company saying they’ll be shutting off your electricity any day.

That’s scary stuff. But don’t let those creditors bully you into making something like a cable bill a priority.

Your family comes first. That’s why you need to make sure your priorities are in the right order. And those start with a little something we call the Four Walls. (The four walls of your home have to be protected first.)

If you can’t pay all of your bills and are having a hard time making ends meet, these Four Walls should be what you spend your money on first (and in this order):

  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Shelter
  • Transportation

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