How to Talk to a Debt Collector
NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- If there's a list of people you never want to get a phone call from, debt collectors are probably toward the top. But if you get a call demanding payment of an unpaid debt, don't panic -- there are ways to deal with the situation that don't involve disconnecting your phone and fleeing town.
To find the best way to deal with this situation, we spoke to Bill Bartmann, a longtime debt collector who advocates for more responsible and ethical debt collection methods.
|If you get the dreaded debt collector call, don't panic -- just keep your wits about you.|
"First, have the debt collector explicitly identify him or herself: Who they are, where they're calling from, why they're calling and the nature of the debt," he says. "You as a citizen have the right to ask these questions."
Doing so accomplishes two things. First, asking for his or her information establishes accountability in the event the collector becomes abusive in any way (and Bartmann also suggests asking if you can record the conversation -- even if you don't have a recording device, bluffing that you do is a good way to keep him or her honest). Secondly, you want to get information you may need to establish the nature of your debt and clear up misunderstandings.
"Determine if it is even your bill," he says. "It may be someone with a similar name, or it might be an identity theft crisis."
If you're at all unclear about the circumstances surrounding the debt, don't hesitate to get off the phone to gather further information. Don't be pressured into settling the debt or giving up financial information before you're ready.