3 Things to Consider Before You Pay that Debt

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Madeleine Jones
April 6, 2018

a man holding his debt, debt lawyerDebt collectors will go to great lengths to collect payments from consumers, and consumers should know their rights prior to making payments when a debt collector contacts them. In 2016 alone, there were more than 850,000 complaints filed with the FTC regarding the actions of debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from threats, harassment, and provides clear guidelines about what collectors can, and cannot do in order to collect debts. To that end, the following are three things consumers should consider prior to making payments collectors request.

1. Consumers Can Stop the Phone Calls & Limit Contact

Consumers can request debt collectors stop calling them, and to stop contacting them at work. While consumers can make this request via the phone, it is always best to submit the request in writing with the assistance of a debt lawyer. Writing a formal letter creates an indisputable, permanent record of the request that can be used to pursue complaints regarding violations of the FDCPA.

2. Consumers are Not Liable for Debts That are Not Their Own

It is common for consumers to receive contact from debt collectors regarding debts that are not their own. In fact, it is one of the most common errors on credit reports. Consumers are not required to pay back debts that are not their own and they have the right to request documentation that confirms the debt is legitimate. There is a very short period of time to do this and consumers should take immediate action if a debt collector contacts them regarding illegitimate debts. If the debt collector does not provide documentation that the debt is legitimately the consumer’s, they do not have the right to collect the debt and consumers can dispute the validity of the information on their credit reports through the credit bureaus.

3. There are Statutes of Limitations

Many debt collectors attempt to collect what is referred to as “zombie debt.” These are old debts that are often purchased for pennies on the dollar in the hopes of collecting these debts from consumers. However, many of these debts are purchased near or past the applicable statute of limitations on old debts which is typically between three to six years depending on the state. Consumers are not obligated to pay debts whose statute of limitations have expired.