Talking to Bill Collectors
Talk sooner than later
Don't wait for a bill collector to call you. It is very important to talk to your creditors as soon as possible. Why? Because you might be incurring additional charges in the meantime. You'll also be taken more seriously when you address your financial difficulties rather than ignore them. If you've already waited, don't wait any longer. The time to take action is NOW.
How to talk to the collectors
The bill collector's job is to ask you to pay everything you owe as soon as possible, preferably yesterday. With that in mind, follow these tips:
- Don't lose your temper.
- If it's a bad time, get the collector's number, make an appointment and call back.
- Be prepared with the details of how much you owe.
- Keep your worksheet information by the phone so you can talk intelligently.
- Have a plan on how you'll address your debt ready to propose.
- Listen to the suggestions of the bill collector.
- Just like in every job, there are good and bad bill collectors. If you are having trouble with one in particular, call and ask for another person.
If you don't owe the money:
- Tell the collector you are disputing the debt. Write to the creditor and explain why as soon as possible. Include your name, the account number, the amount owed and proof of your claim.
If you owe some of the money:
- Tell the collector that you owe some of the money and are disputing a portion of the debt.
- Pay what you owe immediately, or talk to the collector regarding terms on that amount which you are not disputing, if you can't afford to pay it all.
- Write to the creditor and explain why you don't owe the disputed amount.
- Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
- Include your name, account number and the amount owed.
- Do NOT enclose the letter with your payment. Large creditors have payment centres and the letter may get lost. Send the letter separately to the creditor's customer-service department. Your bill will tell you where to send the dispute letter.
If you have already paid the amount that they say you owe:
- Offer to send proof of payment. Send a copy of the front and back sides of your cancelled cheque or a copy of a receipt for the money order. Do NOT send your originals.