Dealing with Delinquent Debt
Most of us want to pay our bills on time and as agreed. But sometimes there are circumstances that arise which make it impossible for us to make our minimum payments and meet due dates.
If you experience an event that keeps you from paying your bills, it is important that you contact your creditors right away. In many cases, if you contact your creditors and have a good payment history, they will work with you to reschedule payments or make other considerations. If you do make an arrangement to pay, it is important to keep that payment plan in an effort to rebuild your history with your creditor.
If a debt goes unpaid for an extended period of time, creditors may turn your account over to a collection department or agency. While most collection professionals do not use threatening and intimidating collection tactics, it is important that you know your rights as a consumer when dealing with collectors.
While debt collectors do have the right to demand payment, and eventually take legal action if necessary, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits any kind of harassment. A third party collector is prohibited from:
- Using abusive language to coerce a consumer into making payments.
- Calling at unreasonable hours (before 8:00am and after 9:00pm) or making excessive calls.
- Threatening to notify the employer or friends that the consumer has not paid his bills.
- Using false pretenses to gain entry to the home with the intent to identify or take something of value.
- Attempting to collect more than what is owed.
- Sending the consumer misleading letters that may appear to be from a government agency or a court of law.
- Third party debt collectors (such as collection agencies) cannot phone your home repeatedly, or call before 8 a.m., or after 9 p.m. without permission.
- They can contact your friends, coworkers, or neighbors, but only to inquire about your whereabouts.
- You can request that a collector not call you on your job. If a collection agency or other third party is collecting the debt, you can send a letter using registered mail to the credit collection agency asking them to stop calling you. By law, they must comply.
If you have received a legal document from a creditor it is important to respond in a timely manner. Seek legal assistance if needed to protect your rights.
When faced with financial hardship it is important to pay your priority payments first. Your priorities are housing, food, utilities, insurance, automobile payment for transportation to and from work, gasoline and prescription medications. Keep these payments in order and you will be in a better position to pay your other creditors when your financial situation improves.
Content provided with permission from Money Management International, a non-profit community service organization that provides confidential financial guidance, free consumer credit counseling services, educational resources, and debt management assistance.
For more information or to discuss financial concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This content was last modified on: 04/29/2011