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I remember this ex of mine who used to get a relentless series of calls on weekends. He would let it ring endlessly. Needless to say; I was a little concerned. Was it a clingy friend or a pesky salesperson? Nope, it was a debt collector. It turns out he had defaulted on some student loans.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in that situation. But if you do, it pays to know your rights and how to correct the problem right away:

1. Avoid it.
Don’t get into the situation in the first place. If you lose your job or can’t pay bills for another reason, call your lenders and work out an arrangement with them.
2. Know your rights. Check out the FTC’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Consumers have rights when it comes to debt collectors, and it pays to know them.
3. Be proactive. Learn from my ex who was afraid to answer his own phone. The problem won’t go away until you deal with it. A credit counselor can help.
4. Strike a deal. Read up on negotiation with debt collectors to consider  your options and set up an arrangement for repayment that will work for you.
5. Get it in writing. Put any verbal agreements about repayment in writing and send them to the collection agency via certified mail.
6. Keep calm. Being hounded by a debt collection agency can be very stressful, but getting emotional will only work against you.
7. Clear your credit report. Once an agreement is reached, ask the agency to ensure your credit report is clear, and check it after to be sure they have.

Bottom line: stay out of this situation by handling your credit accounts responsibly. And you can read more about getting out of debt and handling credit responsibly on

by Variny Paladino

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