Contact The Original Creditor
Contact each of the original creditors that you owe money to. Even if you think that debt has gone to collection, its important to contact the creditor to verify how much they believe you owe. If the creditor no longer has the debt, they should still be able to tell you how much they wrote off as uncollectable.
Find Out If A Credit Agency Tried To Contact You
Debt collection agencies only get paid if they collect from you, so usually youll know if you have accounts in collections. However, if youve moved or changed your phone number, a collection agency could be trying to reach you at an old number. If you see a collection account on your credit score, contact the creditor listed.
Find Out: How to Read a Credit Report
Who The Legislation Does Not Apply To
The legislation does not apply to businesses or people collecting debts for which they are the original creditor or owner of the debt, a lawyer who is collecting a debt for a client, a civil enforcement bailiff or agency while seizing security or people working in the regular course of their employment while licensed under the Insurance Act.
Don’t Miss: Is It A Good Idea To File Bankruptcy
What Debt Collectors Do
Debt collectors use letters and phone calls to contact delinquent borrowers and convince them to repay what they owe. When debt collectors cant reach the debtor with the contact information provided by the original creditor, they look further, using computer software and private investigators.
They can also conduct searches for a debtors assets, such as bank and brokerage accounts, to determine their ability to repay. Collectors may report delinquent debts to to encourage consumers to pay since delinquent debts can seriously damage a consumers .
Debt collectors use letters and phone calls to contact delinquent borrowers and try to convince them to repay what they owe.
A debt collector has to rely on the debtor to pay and cannot seize a paycheck or reach into a bank account, even if the routing and account numbers are knownunless a judgment is obtained. This means the court orders a debtor to repay a certain amount to a particular creditor. To do this, a collection agency must take the debtor to court before the statute of limitations runs out and win a judgment against them. This judgment allows a collector to begin garnishing wages and bank accounts, but the collector must still contact the debtor’s employer and bank to request the money.
Owing Money To A Bank
If you have an overdue debt owing to a bank, the bank can use its right of set-off to recover the money. The right of set-off allows a bank to withdraw money from your accounts to pay your overdue debt. The bank does not have to give you notice or ask your permission before taking this action. The bank does not have to ask the permission of the court.
Banks may use their right of set-off to collect overdue payments on credit cards, loans, overdrafts or lines of credit. A bank may withdraw money that you have on deposit in any of its branches and apply it to your debt. The bank does not have to leave any money in your account.
You May Like: Will Bankruptcy Get Rid Of Irs Debt
Hours Of Telephone Service
- For payment arrangements of an existing debt outside of Canada and the U.S.A
- 7 am to 11 pm from Monday to Friday
Start With The Original Creditor
Sometimes, you know that a debt has gone to collections, but thatâs all you know. Maybe you contacted the creditor and they said that the debt was no longer being held by their office. Maybe you got a letter from a collection agency months ago but threw it away or lost it. Whatever the situation, the original creditor can be a quick and easy source of information. They likely wonât be able to discuss your debt with you after itâs been sent to collections. But they can often provide you with the name and contact information for the debt collector. This information will help you get in touch with the collection agency. It will also help you sort out legitimate debt collection calls from scams.
You May Like: How Do You File For Bankruptcy In Sc
How To Avoid Having Your Debt Sent To Collections
If you’ve recently lost your job or incurred an unexpected expense such as a medical bill, there are resources to help you juggle debt repayment.
“The best thing to do to avoid having your debt going to collections is contact the creditor to set up a payment plan or ask for reduction on the amount of debt owed,” says Eweka.
Do this as soon as you know you’re going to have trouble paying your bills, and you could benefit from a lower APR, temporary forbearance or deferment, waived late fees or other accommodations depending on your financial situation. Be sure to tell your creditor about any financial hardships you’re experiencing, such as a recent layoff, furlough or reduction in working hours.
“Remember that the amount ofdebt forgiven may be taxable when you file your tax return,” advises Eweka. And before you enroll in any type of financial assistance, consider what’s best for your situation.
Checking Your Credit Report
Most collection agencies report debts to the credit bureaus, so you may find the name and phone number you need on a recent copy of your credit report. Collections that are brand new or that are more than seven years old might not show up on your credit report.
Theres no way to know whether a particular collection agency reported your debt to one or all three, so it may be necessary to check your credit reports with each of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
You May Like: What Happens To Your Car If You File Bankruptcy
Make An Official Complaint
The first step with any debt issue is always talk to your lender or debt collector, or ask a free financial mentor to do this for you. If this doesn’t resolve your issue, you have options for taking it further:
- Financial dispute resolution scheme for complaints about your lender/debt collector, eg high fees or giving you a loan you could never afford.
- Privacy Commissioner for breaches of privacy, eg telling your family and employer about your debt without your permission.
- Commerce Commission for complaints involving the Fair Trading Act or the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. You can complain to the Commerce Commission and the financial disputes resolution scheme at the same time. The scheme will seek resolution for your specific problem, and the Commission focuses on the breaches in the law.
You can also get free legal advice from Community Law.
Our law centres Community Law Centres
What Happens If You Don’t Pay A Debt Collection Agency
Ignoring debt can negatively affect your credit score, making it harder for you to borrow loans from other financial institutions. And when you qualify for a loan, you may have to pay high interest rates.
Debt collection agencies may escalate their efforts to recover the debt by filing a lawsuit against you. Therefore, if you receive a court summons and complaint from a debt collector, you need to file a response within a set time frame.
Failure to file a response gives the creditor an upper hand in the case. The creditor can go ahead and request the court to enter a default judgment against you. If the judge grants the creditor’s request, it means you’ll have no chance to tell your side of the story, and the creditor automatically wins the lawsuit.
Note that if a creditor wins a collection lawsuit, the court gives them the power to find legal means to recover their debt. For example, most creditors opt for wage garnishment, a legal procedure through which some of your earnings are withheld or sent directly to the creditor.
On the other hand, you have a chance to fight the case and even win it if you file a response to the court early enough. So whatever happens, don’t ignore the lawsuit even if you believe you don’t owe that debt.
Read Also: What Does Bankruptcy Mean In Australia
How Does A Debt End Up In Collections
Every lender has its own guidelines on how many payments a borrower can miss before theyre in default. With some lenders, a debt defaults as soon as the borrower misses a payment. With others, youll be charged late fees on your initial missed payments before the lender takes additional action.
Typically, it takes three to six months before a creditor marks your account as default. Once the debt is in default, the lender may try to collect the money itself or sell the debt to a collection agency.
What Debt Collectors Cant Do
Debt collectors are regulated by the Texas Debt Collection Act. Among other things, the Act prohibits debt collectors from:
Using abusive collection tactics, including:
- threatening violence or other criminal acts
- using profane or obscene language
- falsely accusing the consumer of fraud or other crimes
- threatening arrest of the consumer, or repossession or other seizure of property without proper court proceedings
- using the telephone to harass debtors by calling anonymously or making repeated or continuous calls
- making collect telephone calls without disclosing the true name of the caller before the charges are accepted
Using fraudulent collection tactics, including:
- using a false name or identification
- misrepresenting the amount of the debt or its judicial status
- sending documents to a debtor that falsely appear to be from a court or other official agency
- failing to identify who holds the debt
- misrepresenting the nature of the services rendered by the collection agency or the collector
- falsely representing that the collector has information or something of value in order to discover information about the consumer
- Trying to collect more than the amount originally agreed upon. .
Violators of the Texas Debt Collection Act are subject to criminal and civil penalties. If you think you have been harassed or deceived, you can even seek injunctions and damages against debt collectors.
Also Check: How To File Bankruptcy In Mn
How Do Debt Collectors Find You In The Uk 2022 Guide
For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.
If youve been in debt for a while, you may have had to deal with debt collectors.
This couldve been through a letter, a phone call or even a home visit. You may be wondering how a debt collector was able to find your contact information.
In todays digital age, everything is connected via the internet and as it turns out, there are a number of different ways through which a debt collection agency can find you.
Today, Ill be looking at what techniques debt collection agencies typically employ in order to locate you.
Is The Debt Time
Finally, take note that if your debt is time-barred meaning the statute of limitations has passed. In this case, your debt collector may no longer have the right to sue you and win a judgment. But in some states the clock can restart if you make a written acknowledgement of the debt or make a payment toward it.
Recommended Reading: How To File For Bankruptcy In Nj
If You Dispute A Debt
If you dispute the legitimacy of something in your debt collector’s file, you must give the collector written notice. Simply calling the collector won’t cease collection activities.
If possible, send your dispute letter by certified mail so you know it was officially received by the collector. The collector then has 30 days to determine whether or not the disputed item is correct.
If the disputed item is correct… The debt collector can continue collection activities.
If the disputed item is incorrect… It must be corrected. The debt collector must notify anyone who has already received a report containing the incorrect item. If, at the end of 30 days, the debt collector has not been able to determine whether the item is correct or not, they must make the change you requested and notify anyone who received a report containing the incorrect item.
Does Debt Collection Affect You Legally
If you dont respond to a debt collector within a certain period of time, they can sue you in court. This period of time varies by state, so check your state regulations to find out how long an agency has to sue you. If the debt collector wins, they may receive the right to garnish your wages. Garnishing wages means they can contact your employer and ask that a portion of your paycheck be diverted to them.
They may also put a lien on any property you own, like your home. In this case, you would be unable to sell the home while the lien is in effect, and your creditor might also be able to foreclose on your home with a court judgment.
Don’t Miss: What Happens If You Claim Bankruptcy In Uk
Check Your Credit Reports For Signs Of Identity Theft
As youâre going through your credit history, itâs a good idea to look for unusual activity that could mean someone stole your identity. For example, you might see a credit card company you donât recognize from a store you never shop at.
If you believe thereâs an error, send a written letter to each credit bureau where the error is listed. You should be very specific about what the error is, why you believe there is a mistake, and ask that the item be removed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have templates you can work from if you need to file a dispute with one of the credit reporting agencies.
Tell The Collector If You Think You Don’t Owe The Debt
If you feel the debt isn’t legitimate or you don’t owe it, you should tell the collector why. Often, collectors aren’t even aware that your debt might be uncollectable. If your reason is valid, the collector might voluntarily cease collection on the debt. Their resources could be better used on consumers who don’t have a valid objection to paying the money.
If you act quickly, you can request in writing that the debt collector validate the debt, and the collector must stop collection activities while it does so.
Review Your Credit Reports
Geta copy of your credit reportfrom each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Check the reports to determine whether you were the victim of identity theft, and accounts were opened or loans taken out fraudulently under your name.
Also Check: Can You Rent An Apartment After Bankruptcy
What Happens To Your Credit Score
Once your creditor transfers your debt to a collection agency, your credit score will go down.
A low credit score means:
- lenders may refuse you credit or charge you a higher interest rate
- insurance companies may charge you more for insurance
- landlords may refuse to rent to you or charge you more for rent
- employers may not hire you
Don’t Make A Good Faith Payment
Often, a debt collector will ask for you to voluntarily make a minimal payment, not under a settlement agreement. The collector might say that the payment shows you’re acting in “good faith.” You might think that making this payment will prevent the collector from suing you or help your credit. Not true. What this small payment will do is extend the statute of limitations. In most states, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking from the date you made the last payment. Every new payment, no matter how small, could restart the limitations period.
Read Also: Can Irs Debt Be Discharged In Bankruptcy
Special Considerations For Old Debt
Even if you owe the debt, it may be too old to collect and/or to appear on your credit report. Generally, debt can stay on your credit report for up to seven years from the time the account went into default. When a debt drops off your credit report because itâs too old, it also stops affecting your credit score. If the debt is too old to be on your report but is still showing up, you can dispute it and the credit reporting agency will have to remove the entry from your credit report. Removing negative entries can improve your credit score.
When it comes to collecting old debt, things work a little differently. How long a debt collector has to file a lawsuit against you depends on the statute of limitations in your state. Some statutes of limitations for debt collection are as short as three years, while others may be 10 years or longer. Some debt that is too old to be on your credit report is still fair game for a lawsuit. And some debt thatâs outside the statute of limitations may still appear on your credit report.
If your debt is outside the statute of limitations, the debt collector is still allowed to call you and ask you to pay. But, they canât sue you, and theyâre not allowed to claim that they will. In that situation, you can send the debt collection agency a letter and tell them to stop contacting you. With a few exceptions, they canât contact you if you tell them to stop.