Consumer Alert: The debt collector is calling. Here’s what you should do

Here’s Deanna’s to-do list when a debt collector calls:

  • Take large discs. Ask for their name, company name and write down the date and time.
  • Check only your mailing address. Do not provide any other personal information.
  • Tell them they need to validate the debt and ask for their mailing address.
  • Send a letter asking them to send written validation of the debt. They must tell you who the current creditor is as well as the original creditor.

Additionally, the governor has enacted a measure that makes it illegal for a creditor to sue you for a debt that is more than three years old. So never make a payment. Often, creditors seek payment in good faith just so they can extend the statute of limitations.

Here’s some more great advice from Anna Anderson, Anna Anderson, attorney in charge of the regional consumer law unit at Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.

The National Association of Consumer Advocates provides free referrals to state consumer attorneys on its website. LawNY also provides free legal assistance to low-income consumers with debt collection issues. LawNY’s phone number is 585-325-2520 and on its website.

It is important to know your rights when contacted by debt collectors, as many debt collectors actually have no proof that they have the right to collect on your alleged debt (as is the case here) . Even if you think you owe money, don’t send payments in response to requests from an unknown caller. Contact your original creditor to find out if your account is in collection or not, which company they hired to collect your account, or which company purchased your debt. Collectors may contact you about debts that are past the statute of limitations or for debts that you do not owe. If you are unsure whether a lawsuit or judgment has been filed against you, contact the clerk of the court in the city or county where you live to see if there are any outstanding cases in your name.

In many cases, consumers are never informed that they have been sued. If you are sued, contact a lawyer immediately, as you have little time to respond before a default judgment is issued. You do not automatically get a court date. Talking to a lawyer about your rights is always the best idea, so you don’t fall victim to an illegal collection scheme.

Consumers should also report violations of NYS and federal debt collection rules to the NYS Department of Financial Services, the NYS Attorney General’s Office, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Free resources for consumers dealing with debt collectors are available on all of these agencies’ websites, in addition to LawNY’s website:

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