Debt collectors call a lot of people about debts. Heck, I got a call over the weekend from Portfolio Recovery Associates about a debt owed by Jonathan A Stein. Of course, that isn't my name. And the last four of the social security number were wrong. And then the collector threatened to sue me for lying. That will be resolved shortly! But, what do you do if a collector calls you about a debt? US News has a new story with some tips.
- Ask for more information. A real debt collector will tell you who they are, who they are collecting for, and provide you with basic information. My advice: Make sure you get an account number and a mailing address. Then send out a debt validation letter. Need one? You can get one here.
- Watch out for red flags. If they threaten to arrest you, tell you that you must pay immediately, or say they are from the IRS, those would all be red flags. If they yell and scream, that would be another red flag.
- Don't talk too much. You can verify your name, but do NOT give out your social security number, bank information (even where you bank), credit card numbers, or anything else!
- Verify the date of last payment. Ask them when the last payment was made and when the account was sold to them. Do not respond to their questions and do not guess at when you paid it. If they can't provide this to you, go to step 1 - send a validation letter!
- Complain. So US News suggests you talk to the CPFB. I say talk to an attorney. Most attorneys who do this work will give you a free consultation. Find out what your rights are, get answers to your questions, and then figure out what to do.
Do NOT let a debt collector bully you. Know your rights and be willing to enforce them!