No matter how careful you are with your finances, there is a good chance that you will have to deal with a debt collector at some point. Even the most conscientious person can forget a bill or run low on funds for a while. Media and pop culture rarely speak about collection agencies in a positive light, so there is a good chance that you have some anxieties about dealing with them. But debt collectors are professionals, and just like in any profession, there are good, ethical debt collectors and unethical ones who give them all a bad name. Let’s take a look at how to spot good and bad collection agencies, and how to deal with them.
Who Are Debt Collectors?
Debt collectors are agents who work for collection agencies. They collect outstanding debts that originated from another creditor. Sometimes they buy the debt from those companies, and they are motivated to collect the debt to make a profit on that investment. Other times, they collect debts on contingency, meaning they don’t pay the original creditor or charge them any fees up front to collect. They collect the debt and additional fees from the customer and then take their fee from that payment.
Usually, you will be notified by mail when your debt changes hands from an original creditor to a collector. You will likely also receive phone calls and possibly emails, depending on what kind of contact information your original creditor had for you. When you receive the bill from a collection agency, you may notice that there are additional fees included and/or a settlement offer that is lower than your original debt.
Working With Debt Collectors
It’s important to remember that debt collectors have to collect your debt in order to meet their goals and earn their salary. So, it would not be reasonable for them to antagonize you in your initial conversations. As with any new professional relationship, it’s a good idea to assume they have good intentions. When you receive a letter in the mail, start by giving them a call. If you are ready to pay your debt right away, you can make a simple payment and part ways in just a few minutes. If you can’t pay your debt immediately, most collectors will work with you on a payment plan or settlement to help you reach a resolution.
Disputes with Debt Collectors
Sometimes, even when both parties come to the table with good intentions and common goals, disputes happen. In a relationship between a debt collector and an indebted person, disputes usually happen for a few solid reasons. The first reason is that the collector and debtor disagree on whether the debt is legitimate. This usually happens in cases of mistaken identity, after the statute of limitations has expired, or when the customer believes they do not owe the debt based on their original agreement with the creditor. Even if they agree, sometimes the debtor can’t afford to pay the debt and doesn’t want to make progress. In that case, they may disagree about how to proceed. Finally, in rare instances one party tries to manipulate the other by lying or breaking promises. If you find yourself in a situation where you believe a collection agent is acting improperly, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
- Get an original accounting of your bill and all fees in writing.
- If it’s legal in your state, record your collection calls.
- Ask for written documentation of any agreements you reach with the collector.
- Keep a record of the number of calls you receive and the times you receive them. If they are calling too often or outside certain times, they may be breaking the law.
Southwest Recovery Services is On Your Side
Some debt collection agencies have the attitude that their client is their customer and you are merely an obstacle to their payday. Southwest Recovery has a different approach. We think of ourselves as an extension of our clients’ team, and you are our customer as much as theirs. The best way to keep both parties happy is to reach a mutually beneficial resolution to your bill. We do this while treating you with respect and compassion. If you’ve received correspondence from us, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help you resolve this debt and move forward. Give us a call today!