We’ve experienced, or at least heard about, the endless stories of dealing with harassing debt collectors, trying to collect on debts and using rather low tactics to do so. While it is true that there are some debt collectors and collection agencies that can be over the top, it is also true that not all are evil. In fact, some are more than happy to work with you so they, in turn, can collect their own fee. Working with collection agencies can be difficult but if you truly owe the debt, you’ll need to find a way to resolve the matter as peacefully as possible to keep from further marring your credit history.
Here are some tips and tactics you can use to get a collection agency to work with you and not against you:
Be Professional, Not Defensive
Just as you’ve heard of the tough tactics used by collection agents, so too have collection agents heard every excuse (and likely cuss word) in the book. The truth is many collection agents are used to the fits people throw when faced with an uncollected debt. The key to getting them to hear you out ans work with you is to be patient, straightforward, and reasonable. If you try to act in a professional manner, the more likely the agent will be willing to listen and be reasonable themselves. If you act defensive and insulting, you’re likely to get no where. If you find that no matter how professional and polite you are, the agent acts unreasonably, request to speak to a manager to resolve the issue.
Ask For Proof
Even if a debt collector is the nicest person on the planet, you’ll still want to prove the debt is yours, especially if you are unsure. Ask them to prove written proof of the debt and the total amount owed. They should mail you the evidence and if you can not prove you’ve paid the debt, you’ll need to negotiate the matter. Ask if the company is willing to settle for half the amount owed. If they are not willing to agree to that, ask what they are willing to do to reduce the balance. Whatever is decided, get it in writing.
Be Upfront About Payment Ability
While many creditors will hound you for the full balance, don’t be intimidated into paying more than you can. If you have the full balance and can pay in one lump sum, do so. You’ll need to understand for yourself just how much you can afford to pay and how regularly. No matter how much they try to steamroll you into a different arrangement, stick to your guns and only make the promises you can keep.
Keep Your Promises
If a collection agency sees you are making every effort to pay as negotiated, there isn’t much room for them to complain. Keep making payments on time or more if possible just to clear the debt faster. Ask the agent to mail regular balance statements so you can see your progress and ensure your payments are being counted.
Confirm the Fulfillment of Payment
When you have reached the end of your debt payments, be sure that you receive written confirmation reporting the debt as paid in full. You’ll also want to order a copy of your credit report to be sure the debt is listed as being paid. You might be able to find out directly from the collection agent how exactly the debt will be reported to the credit bureaus so you’ll ensure it’s been taken care of properly.