Dealing with collectors calling about bills you don’t owe

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Are you receiving calls from collectors looking to collect on a debt that’s not yours or isn’t legitimate? Don’t be harassed or intimidated into paying!

Unfortunately, collectors bugging people about debts they don’t legitimately owe has become more and more common. “Last year, the Federal Trade Commission logged 140,000 complaints about debt collectors, everything from calling the wrong person to leaving threatening messages,” according to The Sacramento Bee.

Very often, the collector could be seeking somebody with a similar name, not you. I was recently a guest on a morning show in Burlington, N.C., when the host played me a tape of a robocall that he was receiving at his home. Turns out his phone number used to be the number of somebody who did owe money.

These calls can be so aggravating and intimidating. I believe that Congress should ban them because there’s no easy way to stop the robocallers from calling you 10, 20 or 50 times a day.

The bill collection industry is one that has many legitimate players, but it also has many who are crooks themselves. Your job is to not allow them to intimidate you into paying money you don’t owe.

If you do legitimately owe the debt you’re being called about, you have rights. If a debt is outside the statute of limitations, they’re not allowed to pursue you on it.

If the debt is legitimately yours and you do wish to pay, begin first by getting written confirmation that what you will pay will be payment in full on the debt you owe. The second thing to keep in mind is never give a collector your checking account number — unless you want it to be cleaned out. Pay only by money order.

But, again, I want to emphasize that you should never pay a debt that is not yours with the vain hope that the collector will stop calling.

Editor’s note: This segment originally aired Sept. 2, 2011.



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