Debt collectors working for collection agencies can be very aggressive in trying to collect the debts they are owed.
Often a person with overdue bills will receive threatening telephone calls, emails, and letters from more than one agency. If you are in this situation, you may be tempted to do what the collection agents demand just to get them to leave you alone. Giving in to these demands is often a mistake, one of many mistakes that you do not want to make.
Here, we discuss common mistakes that consumers make when dealing with collection agencies—mistakes that you want to avoid.
Mistakes Not to Make When a Collection Agency Contacts You
Many of the mistakes people make when dealing with a debt collector hurt instead of help their situations. Some of these mistakes occur when debt collectors are violating the person’s rights under the federal and Massachusetts fair debt collection practices laws.
Some mistakes to avoid include:
- Failing to request verification of the debt. You have the right under debt collection laws to request that the debt collector provide you with verification of the debt. It is a mistake not to ask for this information. Some debt collectors will be unable to provide written documentation that you owe the debt. If you do not realize this, you could agree to pay a debt that legally you do not owe—even if you think you owe it.
- Not knowing the statute of limitations. Under Massachusetts law, there is a statute of limitation—a limited time period that a creditor or a collection agency has to sue you for an unpaid debt. A creditor that fails to file a lawsuit within this time period waives its right to do so. However, some debt collectors will threaten a lawsuit when they know this time period has expired. If you do not know the statute of limitations, you may agree to pay a debt that you no longer owe; in fact, your acknowledging the debt may extend the statute of limitations.
- Giving personal information. You never want to give the debt collector personal information about your finances and assets, such as your Social Security number, your bank account number unless making a payment, your income, or the value of your assets. This just gives the collection agency information about property, wages, and financial accounts to seize if it obtains a judgment against you.
- Admitting liability. Even if you know that you owe the debt, you want to avoid making statements, such as “I know that I owe this bill.” You could still have defenses, especially if the creditor you owed the debt to sold your account to a third party. You do not want your words to be used against you later.
- Not retaining an attorney. When you are getting collection calls, you need the help of an experienced debt collection harassment attorney who can stop the calls, help you develop a plan to deal with this and other debts that you may owe, and pursue your rights for compensation under fair debt collection practices laws.
Let Brine Consumer Law Help You Protect Your Rights
Is a collection agency attempting to collect a debt from you? Call our office, or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to learn about your options in regards to your debts and your rights to compensation under debt collection laws—often at no out-of-pocket costs to you.