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Know your rights when speaking with credit card debt collectors

Receiving calls from debt collection agencies is not something that anyone looks forward to. By the time debt collectors come calling, Washington residents are usually deeply mired in debt. As they struggle to regain control of their finances, dealing with aggressive or misleading debt collection agencies over credit card debt is just one more source of stress. When interacting with debt collectors, it is important to understand the consumer protections that are in place.

To begin, no one should ever feel as if they are required to provide personal information at the request of a debt collector. These individuals already have files for each person they contact. Consumers are not required to provide additional information, including their date of birth, address history or Social Security number. In fact, doing so exposes an individual to a heightened risk of identity theft.

It is also important to understand that, as a consumer, individuals have the right to request that the debt in question be verified. There are laws outlining the length of time that a debt collector has to provide verification of the debt after a request has been made. Consumers should always request that such proof be sent in writing, rather than given over the phone. Having this information in written form allows consumers to keep thorough records and also makes it easier to challenge errors with the credit bureaus.

Finally, if a Washington consumer feels that he or she has been subjected to improper debt collection efforts, he or she should file a complaint. Complaints can be made through the Washington Attorneys General office, the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Because of the risk that a credit card debt collection effort may actually be a scam, consumers are advised to proceed carefully when interacting with anyone who is calling regarding an existing debt.

Source: wrex.com, "6 things debt collectors may not want you to know", Andrew Housser, Aug. 21, 2017

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