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Know your rights during debt collection

Even though there are many laws in place that protect consumers from harassment and other abusive behavior from debt collectors, there are still many collection agencies that allow this unlawful treatment to continue. For that reason, it’s important for consumers to know their rights.

If you are currently battling with debt collectors, here are a few important things to know:

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes harassment by debt collectors illegal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has plenty of information about the protections on its website. Unlawful treatment can be reported to your state’s attorney general’s office or the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If the debt isn’t yours, take action. You may think that it is okay to ignore debt collectors if you are not responsible for the debt; however, this can create a messy situation and adversely affect your credit. In order to verify that the debt is or isn’t yours, you must request in writing a verification of debt within 30 days of the debt collector contacting you.

Work with an experienced attorney to deal with the debt. A lawyer with experience in consumer debt and bankruptcy law can help you stop harassment and abuse from debt collectors, work out a debt relief plan, or file for bankruptcy protection, if necessary.

An attorney is also important if you receive a notice of a lawsuit against you. Showing up to court and bringing an attorney greatly increases your chances of having the lawsuit dismissed. By not showing up to the hearing, you risk having your wages garnished.

Of course, one of the best ways to handle debt collectors is to avoid them in the first place by preventing debts from going to collections. The best way to do this is by communicating with creditors right away in order to arrange a workable payment plan.

Source: CreditCards.com, “10 Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors, Collection,” Fred O. Williams, April 3, 2014

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