How Do I Properly Pay a Debt Collector?

by Ciele Edwards ; Updated July 27, 2017
Be careful when paying debt collectors.

Regardless of what type of debt you owe, if you neglect to make regular payments to your creditor, it has the right to sell the debt to a debt collector to make up for the loss. Debt collectors buy debts that creditors cannot collect and then try to collect the debts themselves. A debt collector has a variety of tools in its arsenal to convince you to pay, such as credit damage, the threat of a lawsuit and incessant phone calls. If you decide to pay a debt collector, doing so properly can reduce damage to your credit score and make the debt disappear for good.

Step 1

Send a request to the debt collector in writing for debt validation as soon as you find out about the debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that collection activity cannot commence until a consumer is given 30 days to dispute the debt’s validity. It is important to request a validation to avoid falling victim to a collection scam.

Step 2

Try to work out a debt settlement in exchange for the debt collector’s agreement not to report the collection account to the credit bureaus.

Step 3

Request that the forgiven balance of the debt not be sold to another debt collector. For example, if your debt is for $1,000 and the debt collector agrees to accept $700, you need assurance that the remaining $300 will not be sold.

Step 4

Request that a zero-balance statement be mailed to you once the account is paid. If another collector attempts to collect the same debt, a zero-balance statement proves that you already paid what you owe.

Step 5

Ask the debt collector to send you the terms of the agreement in writing before you make a payment. This compels the company to adhere to the agreement.

Step 6

Make your payments on time and by money order. Do not allow a debt collector access to your bank account. If you were to miss a payment, the debt collector could try to garnishee the payment directly from your checking account.

Tips

  • Check the statute of limitations on a debt before negotiating with a debt collector to pay it. If the statute of limitations in your state has expired, you may no longer be legally obligated to pay off the debt.

    If possible, call the debt collector at the end of the month when representatives are trying to meet their monthly quotas. Debt collectors are often willing to settle for less than they normally would simply to meet their quota.

    The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not specify what constitutes a legitimate debt validation. Thus, you may receive anything from a printout of what you owe to a copy of the legal judgment against you, if one exists.

About the Author

Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.

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