If you owe an outstanding debt to another company and haven’t paid them in spite of their efforts to collect, you will likely get a call from a debt collection company.
What do you do when the call arrives? Business debt collection companies operate differently from companies that deal with personal debts. It’s important that you understand the dos and don’ts of the collections process, and become familiar with your rights.
Chris Dutkiewicz has been practicing debt negotiation in Gilbert and bankruptcy law in Mesa for over 14 years. He is highly sought after for his expertise, knowledge and non-judgmental attitude. Chris is one of the best bankruptcy attorneys in Arizona working with clients on debt resolutions including; credit card debt, foreclosure alternatives, car repossessions, bank levies and wage garnishments. If you live in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek or Phoenix and are struggling with credit card debt, get a FREE Debt Resolution Consultation.
THE FIRST RULE: DON’T IGNORE THE PROBLEM
If a collections agency has been sending you letters, you may be tempted to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. Ignoring debt can make the problem worse than it is, however. If you ignore a collector’s calls and letters, they may report the debt to a business credit reporting bureau. If the debt gets on your credit report, it can stay there for as long as seven years.
When a debt collection agency gets in touch with you, talk to them, and ask for details. The law allows you to request validation within a month of having a collections agent contact you. You should be able to determine whom you owe the debt to, when you incurred the debt, and what the sum at issue is.
DON’T ADMIT TO ANYTHING
Debt collection agencies sometimes get business names, and the debts owed mixed up. When an agency first makes contact with you, it’s important not to acknowledge that you owe anything. If the company has attributed the debt to you by mistake, acknowledging the debt can put you in a difficult situation. All you need to do is to ask for validation or proof that you owe the debt in question.
Some collectors try to get debtors to verbally admit to owing a debt before they show proof. Sometimes they ask debtors to make small advance payments to show good faith. It’s important to do none of these things. Even a small amount of money paid can be seen in court as an admission that you owe the sum in question. If it is legal to record conversations in your state, you should do it so that you have as much proof as possible of everything that transpires.
LOOK INTO THE CLAIM
Once the debt collection agency provides you with validation of the debt, you need to research it. It’s important to make sure that the debt is something you really do owe, that you haven’t already paid it at some point in the past and that the sum claimed is accurate. It’s also important to gather information about how old the debt is. If a debt is very old, the statute of limitations may have passed on it, rendering it uncollectable.
HIRE A LAWYER
In many cases, debt collection agencies have so little information on the debts that they purchase that they have no actual hope of collecting. If there’s any part of the debt collection attempt that you disagree with, you should dispute the debt in court. If you show up with a Gilbert debt lawyer or bankruptcy attorney in Mesa, the agency is likely to give up the case right away.
STORE ALL DOCUMENTATION SAFELY
The law isn’t clear on how long companies need to maintain records of their transactions. Experts recommend that you keep them at least as long as you maintain your tax records. Depending on the state, debts stay current anywhere from three years to ten years.
PAY THE DEBT IF YOU OWE IT
If the debt collection agency is able to provide documentation to back up its demand, you need to remember that you can ask to settle the debt by paying a sum lower than you actually owe. It’s possible to negotiate. You can also ask about a payment plan where you pay the sum that you owe in installments. Once you put all the payment terms down in writing, you can begin to pay.
You should make sure that you send all checks out by certified mail, and safely keep return receipts. Once you completely pay the debt off, you should ask the collections agency for a closed account statement. You should maintain the document as proof of no longer owing on the debt.
You should pay any debts that you owe. It’s important to make sure that you really do owe the debt that you’re asked to pay, however. It’s important that you take advantage of your rights and pay no more than you have to.
While the debt collection and debt negotiation process can be confusing and even embarrassing for some clients, DM Bankruptcy Law Group in Mesa is sympathetic and non-judgmental. Our compassion and sincerity set us apart from other debt attorneys in the East Valley. We want to help you get out of debt so you can get back to living. If you’re in Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek or Phoenix, contact us for a complimentary case consultation.
DISCLAIMER: None of the content in this post shall be construed as legal advice to you, the reader, and no attorney/client relationship is formed by reading this post.