Summary: Has COVID-19 left you stressed out over past due balances? Here are some successful tips on dealing with debt collectors during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the massive economic devastation it caused have made many people's lives even more difficult. Because of the coronavirus-driven recession, many individuals have either become unemployed or underemployed.
It's even sad to think that those who used to have enough now struggle to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads.
To survive being under the weight of so much debt, some people consult a tax advisor to help them make wise financial decisions. While others even try to earn a profit through sports betting.
Dealing with debt, especially in times of uncertainty, can be a stressful experience. If you're having trouble paying your bills, here are a few things you can do:
Things to consider when dealing with debt
1. Inform your lender about your current financial situation
If you think you'll fall behind on your credit card, auto loan, or mortgage payments, make sure to call your lender and inform them about your situation.
Your bank may offer you hardship programs or accommodations to help you. Under these programs, they may allow you to delay your repayments temporarily.
If you inform your lender that your payment will be delayed, you may avoid a bad credit report. You may even be allowed to elude interest charges.
Because of the pandemic, your lender may be dealing with high call volumes. Thus, the wait may be longer. If that's the case, go to your bank's website and check if they have the information you need.
Perhaps their site allows you to download online applications for accommodations or hardship programs. You may also search for various ways on how to communicate with them electronically.
2. Consider working with a credit counselor
You may consult a credit counselor for advice regarding your money and debts. When working with one, prepare to discuss your financial situation and goals, employment status, and regular income and expenses.
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What to do if your debt is given to a debt collector
Debt collectors might contact you on behalf of your lender or their behalf if your creditor sold your debt to them.
If that's the case, below are a few tips on how to deal with debt collectors in a proactive and less stressful way:
Confirm whether you owe all the money
When you receive a letter from a debt collector, make sure to read it carefully. The letter should specify which debt was sold and the amount you still owe.
If you think there's a discrepancy, ask the debt collector for more information and copies of all relevant documents so that you can get professional advice.
Get legal advice right away if:
- You get a notice about being taken to court
- You are a victim of identity theft or fraud
- The debt collector is harassing you
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Be open about your financial position
Make sure to assess your finances and figure out how much of the debt you can pay off.
If your current financial position won't let you pay the entire debt right away, write to the debt collector and explain in detail your circumstances.
You may also ask them to waive your debt or put it on hold for a while with no added charges.
Once the debt collector knows your financial situation, they may choose to:
- Create a payment plan
- Lessen the amount you owe
- Waive the whole debt
- Take legal action
When they refuse your request, you may feel frustrated and upset. However, remember that aggressive communication will not help you resolve the issue.
No matter how strenuous it may seem, you must maintain your composure and pursue an open dialogue with the debt collector.
If negotiations fail and they are determined to take you to court, get legal advice to understand your options.
Keep a thorough record of correspondences
You must keep a detailed record of all your communication with the debt collector. Ensure to include the dates and times they contact you, especially if they call you excessively.
It would help if you also noted how the debt collector contacts you and what you say to one another. Remember to confirm in writing every agreement you make with them.
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Know your rights
The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) states that a debt collector should not use unfair practices in collecting a debt.
If you think you're being harassed and believe that you don't owe the debt, you may dispute all parts of it.
However, if it's your debt but you don't have enough money to pay it off, you may consider filing bankruptcy. Doing so can give you a fresh start while providing legal protection from debt collection efforts.
COVID-19 has impacted numerous people financially across the U.S. If you fall behind on your financial obligations, it can be stressful and overwhelming when a debt collector calls about your debt.
However, you shouldn't get intimidated easily. Know that you can take some steps to find out your options and protect your position.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance
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