Spend too Much this Holiday? Know What to Expect When a Debt Collectors Calls

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With double-digit unemployment more people are getting behind on their bills. They might then get calls from debt collectors for the first time. Here’s what to do when a debt collector calls and what is legal from debt counseling firm

Do not fear debt collectors. Their job is to remind you that you owe money and encourage you pay the balance. Work with them or find a debt management service to help. Your credit report and life in general will be better once that debt is paid., a debt management company, says the holidays can be a tough time financially. For many, Christmas shopping means adding more debt to already stretched finances. It can also mean getting calls from debt collectors long after the gifts are unwrapped. Know what to expect from a debt collector so you can handle the situation and maintain your rights.

First, who are debt collectors? A debt collector is a professional, sometimes an attorney; hired to collect outstanding debts by those owed money. Debts could include personal debts, credit card debts, medical debts, or car or house payments.

A debt collecto r’s job is to collect as much of a debt as possible. They start by asking for payment owed. Then, within the next five days, they will send written notice of what you owe, who you owed, and what to do to either pay off the debt or challenge the claim.

Here’s what a debt collector cannot do when attempting to collect on debt:
1. Contact you at unreasonably early or late hours (before 8 am or after 9 pm), or at work. Debt collectors may contact you via phone, fax, email, regular mail, or even in person during reasonable hours.
2. Harass or threaten you. Debt collectors cannot threaten to arrest you, use profanity, publicly expose debts or annoy you over the phone. If you feel you’re being harassed, submit a written letter to the collection agency asking them to cease. After that, they cannot contact you again except to say they won’t contact you again. However, they may contact you or your attorney if legal action is going to be taken regarding your unpaid debt.
3. Contact a third party about debts more than one time. If you have an attorney, your debt collector may contact them. If you do not, a debt collector is permitted to try to locate you through a third party, but they may not contact that third party more than once. In general, a debt collector is not allowed to go all over town asking about you.
4. Falsify any information in an attempt to collect debt. This includes: faking legal documents, failing to inform you that an actual document is a legal document, misrepresenting themselves or who they work for, implying that you have broken the law and may be arrested (that’s a threat).
5. Claim any action that is not legally intended by the people to whom you actually owe the money.

Remember, the debt collector represents someone else, it’s not the debt collector you owe. So they cannot make any threats claiming they are going to seize your assets or garnish your wages. Only the creditors can do those things, and even then only if it is legal in your situation.

Those who feel a debt collector is violating their rights may report the violation to their State Attorney General’s Office or the Federal Trade Commission. The Attorney General’s office will investigate the claim to determine if any laws have been violated. If they have, you may sue the debt collector for damages, possibly including legal costs.

The most important advice is to not fear debt collectors. Their job is to remind you that you owe someone some money and encourage you to get your balance paid off. Work with the debt collector to start paying off debt or find a debt management service to help. Your credit report and life in general, will look much better once that negative balance is cleared.

About® is the Internet domain for American Credit Foundation®, an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit consumer credit counseling organization.

The staff at American Credit Foundation® has been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1994. The Foundation was incorporated with the objective of meeting a long-standing need for a debt management program designed for people who were frustrated with their debt situation. We provide a simple way to get out of debt quickly, and lower monthly payments without having to qualify for a consolidation loan.

American Credit Foundation® is a Utah based non-profit organization. As a third-party administrator, the Foundation disburses funds, held in our trust account at an FDIC insured institution, to financial institutions nationwide. The Foundation is bonded and insured with a $100,000 Fidelity Bond.

American Credit Foundation® is a registered and certified ISO 9001:2000 Organization. We are independently audited and certified annually to this internationally recognized Quality Management System through BSI Management Systems. Our Credit Counselors are independently certified by the National Institute For Financial Counseling Education, and we are a member of the American Association of Debt Management Organizations (AADMO).American Credit Foundation® is a member of both the UTAH Better Business Bureau as well as the BBBOnLine Reliability Program.

We are devoted to assisting customers resolve their financial difficulties by giving them the necessary guidance and support for successful completion of the debt management program.

Watch a free online video about our debt counseling services or go to to learn more.


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Mike Peterson
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