You get a call from a creditor or a collection agency and your first instinct is to hang up.
Don’t do it.
If you have made poor financial decisions or run into some bad luck and are having trouble paying your bills, you might not want to talk about it. After all, it seems easier to avoid the call than to face it head on. The problem is, you are going to have to deal with it sometime and now is as good a time as any. Sticking your head in the sand is not a responsible option and you could end up digging yourself into a deeper hole. Plus, there’s a good change the caller may be able to negotiate with you.
Here are some strategies you can use:
- Tell the Truth – Just like your mother taught you, honesty is the best policy. Don’t tell them a long story full of excuses – be honest about what happened and how you are trying to get back on your feet. Negotiations may require several phone calls, and you could possibly speak to different representatives each time. Telling the same story consistently will help keep the facts straight and give you more credibility.
- Don’t be Dramatic – Stay as calm, cool and collected as you can and avoid losing your temper. Depending on what the caller says, this may be easier said than done. If you are finding it difficult to control your emotions, tell the caller now is not a good time and ask them to call you back before you hang up.
- Ask Questions – Sometimes collectors use tactics like threats to get payment. If this happens, remain calm and ask the caller for the specifics. For example, if they threaten to sue you, ask when you should expect to be contacted by a lawyer. Keep a record of whatever information you are provided with. It is illegal for collectors to provide you with false information.
- Keep a Record – Write down important information like the name of the caller, when they called and exactly what was discussed. This can be helpful to keep you focused on the call and to use as evidence if you suspect the collector is using illegal practices. Keep a pen and paper handy to your phone so you won’t forget.
- Don’t Ignore Your Mail – When you get mail from a collector, open it, read it and then organize it in a folder so you can keep track of all correspondence.
- Be Reasonable About What you can Afford – It is very helpful to review your budget and decide what you are able to realistically afford before you negotiate with a creditor. You may agree upon a lump sum payment or a payment plan and you don’t want to commit to a plan that you can’t really pay. If you are considering a payment plan, consider what the total amount you will end up paying is. Negotiating a one-time payment is usually less than the total of what you might pay on a payment plan.
- Avoid Collectors – It is in your best interest to resolve your debt with your creditors before it is sent on to a collection agency. In general, collection accounts are more damaging to your credit score than making a late payment. Talk to your creditor to see if you can avoid the debt being moved to collections. They may be willing to negotiate with you on reducing late fees, interest rate, or lowering the amount you owe, depending on your payment history.
- Ask for Everything in Writing – If you come to an agreement with the caller on how to resolve the debt, make sure you get it in writing before you make any type of payment. A verbal agreement is not binding – it is just your word against the callers. You don’t want to put yourself in the position of thinking you have paid off your debt and having the collection agency coming back looking for more money.
- Avoid Becoming a Serial Negotiator – Negotiating with a creditor regarding one late payment is one thing, but doing it consistently is another. If you are repeatedly negotiating with the same creditors they may not be as willing to work with you. If this occurs, you likely will require the services of professionals to help manage your credit.
- Consult the Experts – If you are having trouble dealing with a creditor and cannot come to an agreement on a repayment plan, consult a credit counseling service to negotiate on your behalf. You may want to start this process earlier if you are not confident you can negotiate on your own. If you think you may need to file bankruptcy, it is best to talk to a lawyer. Both usually offer free consultations and can point you in the right direction.
- Move On – Once you have resolved your debt, put it behind you. Take steps to improve your financial picture by consulting with a credit repair company, budgeting and making smart financial decisions. Use it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
Your path to financial freedom can start right today with Great American Credit Repair – the company you know you can trust. Contact us at 1-800-603-1943 to receive expert advice on how you can repair your credit score and achieve your financial dreams.
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