Debt collectors are notoriously good at negotiating and getting their way. They are, in fact, tough, professional negotiators whose living it is to finalize deals that lean in their favor.
While struggling with debt is scary enough in itself, it is nothing compared to going head to head with a debt collector. As terrifying as it can be, there are a few things that you can do to come out ahead. The five important facts for negotiating with debt collectors that are discussed below will prep you for your negotiations and all but guarantee that you come out with a deal that benefits you.
Learn Your Rights
The most important thing to do before negotiating with a debt collector is to thoroughly know and understand your rights. Many debt collectors use the public’s lack of knowledge of these rights to their advantage. They will press this advantage by using aggressive tactics to secure the deal that they want.
Learning about your rights will ensure that a debt collector plays fair. They will know that they can’t get away with any tricks and stick to the rule book. The National Consumer Law Center provides free brochures on debt collection for consumers struggling with debt. You can find out more by contacting them at (617) 542-9595 or visiting their website at www.nclc.org.
Oftentimes, separate states have their own individual debt collection rules and laws. Before negotiating with a debt collector you should review these laws. To do this, contact your state’s attorney general’s office.
Understand Your Bills
Living with debt can be overwhelming. It can be hard to figure out which bills are the most important to pay off first. By understanding your bills and which are the most important to pay off, you will effectively prioritize them and construct a plan for yourself.
Though a debt collector might tell you differently, unpaid credit card bills are the absolute most important to pay off. In addition, providing the basics for your family always comes before any bills. Having a plan and knowing which bills are most important will allow you to stand in a stronger position while negotiating with a debt collector.
Decide on an Offer Beforehand
Never go into a talk with a debt collector without coming up with an offer of your own beforehand, like debt consolidation or settlement. If you don’t have anything to work on going into a negotiation, chances are that you will be worked over. Estimate how much you can actually pay and then pay a little less than that. You don’t want to get yourself into a situation that you can’t afford.
Keep Your Information Private
When negotiating with a debt collector, it is essential that you stick to the facts. Don’t reveal any unnecessary information such as your place of work, your bank, or your checking account number. And never talk about your personal life or try to give a sob story, debt collectors are used to hearing that stuff every day and it won’t do any good.
Get Proof and Don’t Rush
Getting proof of what is said while negotiating with a debt collector is important. It is important that you take notes during your talk to add to your personal record. If you are talking on the phone, ask if you can record the call. In many cases, simply knowing that they are being recorded will make debt collectors significantly less aggressive.
If you reach a payment agreement, make sure to get it in writing. This will ensure that they hold up to their end of the deal and don’t place any undue pressure on you. Send a letter by certified mail that outlines your payment plan. Keep a copy of the letter and the receipt for your records.
There are not many ways to truly make negotiating with these people an enjoyable experience. By its very nature, it’s a difficult, stressful, and time-consuming thing to do. However, with the five important facts discussed above, negotiating with debt collectors will be made marginally simpler and easier. Better yet, following all of the above tips to a T will help keep you safe from aggressive tactics and untrustworthy debt collectors.