Debt and Debt Collectors (US-centric)

Financial desperation sucks, and I'm seeing more of it. Know that you have rights, and can excercise them, though The System won't do that for you.

Many guides come from banks. I recommend those written by legal, union, and advocacy groups. Nolo has an excellent one:

Summarizing: YOU CAN SAY "NO".

Non-US: You have rights too, though details differ.

The governing US law is the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act:

You can:

1. Tell a debt collector to stop contacting you.
2. Tell them you cannot pay.
3. Negotiate a partial payment (pennies on the dollar).
4. Tell them the debt doesn't apply, if you belive that's the case.
5. Keep a log of interactions.

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You should NOT do certain things:

1. Don't Give a Collector Your Personal Financial Information

2. Don't Make a "Good Faith" Payment

...this small payment can do is extend the statute of limitations (the time limit that a debt collector can sue you for the debt)...

3. Don't Make Promises or Admit the Debt is Valid

4. Don't Lose Your Temper

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(This is more about the case where the financial agency screwed up or you were the victim of fraud but the advice on how to act is really helpful.)

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