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3 tips for dealing with collections

The first of the month is right around on the corner and rent is due. You barely have enough cash to pay your landlord and still go pick up groceries for the week. But, you have a credit card. It won't hurt to use it this one time to buy food to get you through to your next paycheck. Unfortunately, past due notices are already stacking up from the other credit card you maxed out three months ago, in addition to the ones for your car loan. With constant calls from creditors and the threat of repossession, you may be wondering what to do.

If you live in Memphis and the above situation is familiar, you are not alone. When the job market only offers low paying part-time jobs, it is very difficult to make ends meet. This is how people often find themselves with more debt than they can handle and creditors start hounding them for payments. Since not every creditor plays by the rules, it is vital that you know how to protect yourself. Here are some tips to help you deal with creditors.

Get a validation letter

Before you start talking to a creditor about any outstanding debt you might owe, request a validation letter. The creditor must provide this document which contains the details of the debt. This lets you verify that the debt is real and does belong to you.

If the debt isn't yours, speak up

If a creditor is coming after you for a debt that is not yours, is an incorrect amount or is not real, speak up. You have the right to dispute any debts that are not yours. When you receive a notice about a debt that is erroneous, be sure you respond within 30 days. Include a letter stating that the debt is not yours along with copies of any evidence, such as cancelled checks or a notice of discharge from the original collector. Also, be sure to send the letter certified so that the post office provides you with a receipt of delivery. This will keep the creditor from claiming that you never sent the letter.

Take a look at your credit report

If you receive notice from a creditor that you owe money, check your credit report. This is very important, especially if the debt is the result of another person stealing your identity. If you see activity that you do not recognize, then you could be a victim.

While the above tips can help you handle a creditor, they are not long-term solutions to an overwhelming debt problem. For this, you will need to explore other solutions, such as the possibility of declaring bankruptcy.

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Ben Sissman, Attorney at Law
44 North Second Street, Suite 403
Memphis, TN 38103

Phone: 901-730-4958
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