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Don’t take the bait. That’s just what a debt collector wants you to do.
The “bait” many collectors offer is a deal that sounds good but has a dark side. Their goal is to trick you into giving them what they want—your money. Once that happens, don’t be surprised if the deal doesn’t work out like they say.
According to the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, there were 335 complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in March alone about collectors using “false statements or representation.”
When a collector offers a deal, be careful not to be duped into accepting something that puts you at a disadvantage. If that happens, you are at the collector’s mercy. Here are four ways collectors try to make you fall for their pitches.
1. Request Bank Account Information
The collector tries to make this sound like a convenient way for you to pay your debt and get back to your normal life. After all, isn’t that what you both want—a simple solution to fix things? They tell you that all you have to do is give them your checking account or debit card information so you can pay your past-due bill, and they’ll take it from there. The problem is, they’ll do a little too much taking. Don’t be fooled if they say they’ll only take out a certain amount. In reality, they will clean out your account to pay on your balance, which will leave no money for you to pay for food, housing and other necessities.
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2. Refuse to Send a Written Settlement Offer
Remember the saying: “If it isn’t in writing, then it never happened.” That’s certainly true when a collector makes a settlement offer. Don’t send them a penny without getting the agreement in a letter or email. If you don’t have written proof, they will take your partial payment and resume their harassment. Ask for a written offer first. If they refuse to send it, that means they were never serious about settling in the first place.
Related: The Hidden Truth on What Collectors Can (And Can't) Do
If you do get a settlement letter, keep it for the rest of your life along with a copy of your cancelled check. Settled debts sometimes find their way to debt buyers who purchase the debt and then harass you to pay it again. There were 4,262 complaints to the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau in 2014 by people who said they were harassed about a debt that was already paid. Keeping good records is your best defense against this tactic.
3. Demand Payment on Their Debt Above All Others
Collectors want their specific debts to be paid first. In other words, someone from American Express is more concerned that you pay your bill with them before you get to Sallie Mae. The collector may suggest that you let other bills slide and use the extra cash to get caught up with them.
This doesn’t benefit you because you are swapping one debt for another. In some cases, it can make a bad situation worse. If you fall behind on a student loan payment to get caught up on the credit card, you are inviting trouble from the government instead of a plastic company.
Related: Don't Let Collectors Set Your Priorities
4. Ask for Post-Dated Checks
If a collector asks you to send multiple post-dated checks, that’s a red flag. They promise to cash the check on certain dates, corresponding to the date on each check. But watch out—they will cash every check as soon as they get them. There’s nothing you can do at that point because you owe and paid the money, even if they lied to you to get it.
It’s important to maintain control of the situation when dealing with collectors. Allowing the collector to dictate the terms takes the power away from you. If you feel that collectors are mistreating you, let us know at collectionbully.com.
CollectionBully.com connects you with an attorney we trust who will evaluate your situation at no cost to you. If the attorney determines that your rights are being violated, they will enforce your rights against the offending collector. You only pay the attorney if you win a settlement or judgment against the collector.