Talking Debt

How to negotiate with debt collectors

No one likes dealing with debt collectors, but if you’re stuck in that situation, there are ways to reduce some of the associated stress. Here are some key ways to negotiate with debt collectors and thus make your life a little easier.

  • Know Your Stuff. One of the keys to negotiating with debt collectors is to know your rights. Debt collectors are banned by law from harassing you, calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and threatening jail time or deportation. If any of this happens, that’s a big red flag. Make sure you’re taking detailed notes of all your interactions with the collector, then contact an attorney and/or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Offer a lump payment. If you can offer the collector a lump sum payment, you may be able to negotiate to pay less overall. Collectors want to get whatever they can, so there’s a good chance that you can get them to come down in the price by offering a big chunk right off the top.
  • Stay Calm. As US News reports, some debt collectors are trained to use fear and intimidation to get you to pay. Don’t fall for these tactics. If you know your rights, you’ll be better equipped to stay calm when the collector gets intense. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely the collector will negotiate because they realize you’re up to speed.
  • Talk Reporting. If you do get the debt settled, discuss how it will be reported to the credit bureaus. You may be able to get the collection agency to report the debt as paid in full and delete any negative information.
  • Insist on Written Proof. Any changes that you negotiate should be sent to you in writing. Don’t accept a verbal agreement.
  • Chris O'Shea

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