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Protecting Yourself from Debt Collectors during the Pandemic

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Do you know that as of 2020, nearly half of America’s populations are carrying credit card debt? Twenty-three percent of credit-card owners have added to their credit balance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Student loan debt has also increased this year. With 44.7 million U.S. borrowers, the student loan debt is at a record high of 1.6 trillion dollars. It really goes to show how bad the student loan debt crisis is in the United States.

If you think it couldn’t get any worse, debt collectors are thriving this year, thanks to the pandemic. With hundreds of thousands of businesses closing down, debt collectors have been on the move and are filing more lawsuits than ever. And although this is good news for the debt collectors, this is definitely not good news for those whose businesses closed down. It is even more difficult for those who are now rendered jobless.

When you’re struggling to pay the bills and trying to pay off debt at the same time –– in the middle of a pandemic –– these things can get really stressful. It can get even worse if the debt-collecting agency uses aggressive methods to force you to pay your debt. If you want to avoid being harassed by debt collectors, here are a few methods to help you deal with them:

Identifying if it really is your debt or a scam

When the debt collector calls you, don’t ignore them –– or at least, don’t ignore them all the time. You should pick-up the phone at least once to ensure it isn’t a scam. Legitimate collectors will send you a written validation notice of how much money you owe and to whom you owe it. Refuse to discuss the debt until you’ve received this notice. If you don’t recognize the notice’s debt, you can write a dispute letter explaining why it isn’t your debt.

Legitimate collectors will also provide you with their full name, company name, company address, and phone number when they call. Before anything, remember to ask them about these details. If the debt collector (or whoever it is you’re talking to) refuses to give you this information, you should refuse to give out any personal information as well. It would help if you also did some research. Contact the company written on the notice and validate whether it is your debt.

How to know when debt collectors are going too far

Is the debt collector calling you several times a day? Have they gone as far as to contact your relatives, employer, or any third party member that you didn’t want to know about your debt? Do they call you before 8:00 AM or past 9:00 PM? Are they threatening you or using words of profanity against you? If you answer yes to even one of these, your debt collector may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

How to stop debt collectors from harassing you

  • Hire a collection attorney

Companies may hire their own attorneys to get you to pay your debt. But do you know that you can also hire your own collection attorney? Hiring your own attorney is the easiest way to deal with your debt. They will not only help you find the best course of action to relieve you of your debt. They will also help inform you of your rights and help you get rid of debt collection harassment once and for all.

  • Stay calm and rational.

Woman using laptop

If a debt collector is harassing you, make sure to stay calm and think rationally whenever you speak to them on the phone. If you lose your temper while speaking to these debt collectors, they might use your temper against you. They might even claim that their harassment is just a form of self-defense to deal with your temper. Don’t let their attitude get to you. Let their bad attitude reflect solely on them.

  • Keep a record of things.

Having records and keeping a paper trail is important. Written documents are easy to keep track of. As mentioned earlier, you should also note the collector’s name, company, company address, and phone number. And remember, if you write a dispute letter, the collector is not allowed to contact you without verifying that the debt is indeed yours in the first place. Collectors should not contact you until a verification or the debt has been sent to you.

  • Tell them to stop

It’s not as easy as you think. There’s a specific way to tell debt collectors to stop contacting you. You have to send them a formal letter telling them to stop contact. Save a copy for yourself, make sure to place the date, and pay for a “return receipt.” A return receipt is basically a confirmation that the collector received your letter to stop contacting you. Doing so may stop them from harassing you through calls, but it won’t stop them from filing a lawsuit against you. That’s why you need to hire an attorney so that you know what legal steps to take.

If there’s one thing you need to know about debt collectors, it’s that they don’t give up. If you know your rights and have the proper legal advice, you can deal with these guys much easier.

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