Owing money to a creditor does not make you a bad person. In fact many hard working people have ended up in overwhelming debts through little fault of their own. The problem is that very few people actually know their rights when it comes to managing debts and dealing with debt collectors. The Federal Trade Commission is working to better educate consumers about their rights.
First, know that you do not have to communicate with a debt collector or third party. You have the right to resolve your debts directly with your lender. You also don't have to put up with threats or abusive language. The Fair Debt Collection Practices act outlines specific guidelines for debt collectors. However, not all creditors follow these rules and you have the right to report violators to the FTC.
Debt negotiations may seem like scary business, but they can actually be quite easy. Contact your creditor directly and verify that your alleged debt is accurate. Next, evaluate your budget and develop an idea of how much you can realistically afford to pay your creditors each month. Propose a debt repayment plan to your creditor that includes the amount you can afford to pay. It is important to be both persistent with the need for help with your debts, but also flexible when agreeing to a plan. Creditors hold the final power of approval and debt negotiations require give and take.
Once you have a negotiated plan with a creditor, be sure to follow through. The worst thing to do in debt negotiations is to default on your account after creditors have agreed to work with you. In such cases you could be facing steep penalty fees and stubborn creditors. Also, remember that you maintain the right to report abusive, threatening or stubborn practices to the Federal Trade Commission. If you feel that you have experienced unfair debt collections or unprofessional creditor interactions, contact the FTC to inform them. Only you have the power to help resolve problems and facilitate a better experience in debt collections.