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Three Things You Can Do To Stop Debt Collection Harassment
What are three things that a consumer can do to stop debt collection harassment? To find out, we asked Bud Hibbs, a debt collection consumer advocate and consultant for over 25 years who has written several books, is approved to teach CLE courses through the State Bar of Texas and has appeared in numerous radio and television programs including the Oprah Winfrey Show. Here’s what he told us:
Don’t get intimidated. You don’t have to jump when a debt collector calls or barks. You have rights. By law, a debt collector must send you a written notice within five days of initial contact. The law then allows the consumer to dispute the validity of the debt. We always recommend that they use the dispute process. You want to be able to differentiate between a legitimate collector and what we refer to as a bottom feeder. A bottom feeder is somebody who purchased the debt, usually has little or no documentation or they manufacture the documentation in house. In the majority of cases, those documents would not hold up under any court settings.
Be careful of who you’re dealing with. We publish the worst of the worst on our website, www.budhibbs.com. There are some people out there that just have a bad reputation and their whole idea is to scam you. Never take anything at face value. Get it in writing and get it upfront. If the contract doesn’t come across in a professional manner, that’s a red flag.
Don’t ignore lawsuits. If you get sued, it’s important to not just ‘let it happen.’ In other words, don’t ignore it. The majority of lawsuits that are filed end up in default judgment because the consumer never shows up. The biggest thing I hear from consumers is, ‘I can’t afford a lawyer and, gosh, I did have a Visa or a MasterCard at some point, so I don’t have any defense.’ Yes, you do. You have a defense based on who’s suing you. If it’s the original creditor, like we discussed earlier, a Citibank, it’s one story; but, if it’s a junk debt buyer, a bottom feeder, it’s a different story altogether.
If you are being harassed by a debt collector, contact an attorney whose practice focuses on issues relating to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To contact an experienced debtor’s rights lawyer, please click here. We may be able to help.
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