It is a common scenario for homeowners in Miami-Dade, as well as across the country: Financial challenges build up until you are no longer able to keep your head above water, and the bill collectors start calling. What happens when unpaid bills lead to your debt being turned over to collection agencies? You will likely start seeing notices in the mail in addition to getting those annoying phone calls. At Cuevas, Garcia & Torres, P.A., we have heard from many clients who are concerned they could lose their homes as a result of mounting bills and creditor harassment.
It is important for you to know that despite being deeply in debt, you still have rights as a consumer. According to Bankrate, these include the right to be treated with decency by a lender or collection agency, without abusive or harassing tactics.
What should you do if you start getting calls by a collection agency? Should you ignore them? This may actually lead to a worsened financial situation, including wage garnishment and possible seizure of your property. It is usually in your best interests to speak with the creditors calling you. However, take note of the following points:
- Ask to receive information on the debts you owe in writing.
- Understand that you have the right to dispute the debt in writing if you believe it is erroneous.
- Talk as little as possible to a debt collector – answer questions briefly and stick to the point.
- Try to negotiate if you can, by asking if some debts might be reduced or agreeing on a payment plan you can afford.
- Write down all of the important information from each phone call, such as the agent’s name, date of the call and the items discussed.
If you are going through a bankruptcy or facing foreclosure, frequent letters and phone calls by collection agencies can only add to your stress. To learn more about foreclosure defense and other real estate matters, visit our page.