You’ve probably heard a lot about collection agencies recently. But did you know that the Federal Trade Commission has rules and regulations that govern their operations? Here are a few things you should know about those rules.
First, don’t assume the collection agency is a collection agency. For instance, an insurance agency can be a collection agency if it doesn’t operate on a state-by-state basis. It may be best to consult the specific rules for each state, since different agencies have different rules on state issues.
You also need to look at the fees associated with the agency information. Do they cost you more or less than you would pay a private company? Again, check with the specific state to see what your obligations are.
You also need to find out how many collection cases the collection agency handles in a month. Some agencies will only handle their cases once a month, so this figure will be very important to you. However, some agencies handle a case every day!
Next, you need to find out if the collection agency you’re considering employs any outside contractors. Don’t think that this is an irrelevant question since most people who work for a collection agency will probably also work for a third party service. But, don’t just hire the first one you talk to; you want to find out how many contractors they employ, too.
Do your homework before you hand over agency information. Don’t just go with the first agency you talk to. Do some research on your own. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints about the agency.
Find out about the policies and procedures that apply to your accounts with the collection agency. That way, you’ll know what to expect when you come to work. Find out if there are any limits on the number of days you have to pay a debt, and if the agency can pursue collection through other methods.
Talk to your agent about what to do if you have questions about agency information. You need to feel like you’re in control of your records. When you are paying your bills, make sure you feel like you have complete control of that.
Get a copy of the agency’s policy on transferring records to you. The policy should protect your personal information. If you move to another state, you’ll still have rights that you can use to secure your records in your new state.
Finally, don’t hesitate to negotiate a settlement with the collection agency. Sometimes the collection agency will offer to settle your debt without actually going to court. They can give you a written notice of the settlement. Many of these collection agencies will offer to lower the amount you owe, too.
Find out how much time you have to settle. This may be set by state law. If the collector’s offer is too low, you should let them know about it.
Don’t just sign the paperwork when you’re dealing with a collection agency. Find out everything you can about the agency and its practices.