Debts are a factor in our lives that we would all love to get rid of by the wave of a magic wand, but only if it was that simple! Being hounded by creditors at every instance of a phone call or a letter in the mail simply makes our lives miserable, especially if it has reached a point where the creditor has forwarded the case to a debt collector who in turn, is more adamantly aggressive in trying to get you to pay up. They will do anything to get you to admit and pay whatever debt they think you may owe them.
However, what if you are being hounded unjustifiably?
It is not uncommon for debt collectors to consistently call you and demand that you start making payments on debts you know nothing about. What is even more frustrating is that the more you deny knowledge of it, the more persistent they become.
What ends up happening is that the debt collector, after numerous attempts of trying to compromise with you on a settled plan of payment and with no success, may end up resorting to reporting you to the credit bureaus which might prove to be catastrophic to the future of your credit score. Before you dispute debts, it is wise to first consider what the overall picture is, in order to combat it successfully.
Therefore, it is necessary to know where you stand when it comes to your legal rights before you dispute debts that you are certain you never owed.
What are your Legal Rights?
It is essential to protect yourself. There is nothing worse than being caught up in a murky situation whereby you lack the know-how of getting yourself out of it. More often than not, most people do not know their rights in many case scenarios and end up getting mislead into doing things that do not sit in their favor.
Before you dispute debts get familiarized with the law from the Fair Trade Commission (FTC). Luckily, you are protected from debt collectors by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and it stipulates that:-
- Word of mouth (phone conversation between both parties) is not considered valid until you personally send the debt collector a letter of dispute over the alleged debt. They cannot proceed to harass you until this is done. (Keep all documents you that you may receive from them safely for future reference) You have the right to contest the contents in the document of the debt 30 days after contact is made.
- If in the event a debt collector should receive proof that the debt they pursue with an individual is non existent and they are still pestering that individual over it, then a complaint can be filed against them.
- You are protected by the FDCPA if you have a dispute filed with a debt collector. The FTC does not take kindly to debt collector’s harassments. That works in your favor because they also cannot report you to any credit bureaus in an effort to spoil your credit.
Things to do before you dispute debts
With those pointers in mind, then you can proceed in disputing the debt, but not without doing the following first:-
Check your Credit first
First inquire about your credit report. That is probably the very first thing you should do before you dispute debts. Check it and make sure that it is, or isn’t included in the credit history. After all, that is the only way you will know for sure if you have no clue about what they are talking about. If it is not on the credit report, then you can dispute it. During this 30 day period, they are not allowed to call you again.
Don’t confirm or agree to the debt
When they first make contact, they catch you off guard. You may not know what they are talking about. That is why you should be vague and not very forthcoming in your responses. Conversations are recorded which may be used against you later on.
Other reasons why you should not admit to anything are:-
- The debt may come from a deceased relative. They know this, but are hoping to impose the debt on you instead. Before you dispute debts, silence is surely golden.
- When a debt goes unpaid for a certain amount of time, you become exempt from paying it (statue of limitations) but they try to make you pay for it anyway.
- It may be a debt incurred by someone who stole your identity and you of course, don’t know anything about it.
Before you dispute debts, these precautions are key. First know your rights and how well you can utilize them and everything else just falls into place effectively.