You got the dreaded call from a debt collector, you’ve verified that you do actually owe the debt and you’re ready to pay. Now you need to make sure you have proof that you’ve settled the debt.
“It is important to have a paper trail of the payment, and a receipt is one way to do that, if they will provide one,” Thomas Nitzsche, media relations manager for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, said. “If you are settling the debt for less than the full balance, then it is especially important to get something in writing from the creditor because your partial payment alone won’t prove it is resolved if they have agreed to a settlement.”
Debt collectors are not required to provide a payment receipt, Nitzsche said, but they will often do so if you ask, and they are required to provide documentation of the debt when they first contact you. This includes the name of the creditor, the amount and how you can dispute or request verification of the debt.
To ensure that your settlement payment is properly documented, especially if the debt collector won’t provide a receipt, make your payment using a method that will leave a paper trail.
“Send payment by mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy of the canceled check or a copy of the money order,” Nitzsche suggested.
Communicating with Debt Collectors
Remember, when you’re contacted by a debt collector, it’s important to know your rights. There are strict laws dictating what debt collectors can and cannot do. Also, it’s a good idea to check your state’s statute of limitations on debt collection to be sure you are still legally responsible for the debt.
One of the worst things consumers can do is deliberately avoid communicating with debt collectors. Most consumers tend to communicate with the debt collectors only when they are in a position to start repayment. While that is great, it is also just as important for consumers to communicate with debt collectors when they aren’t in a position for repayment as well.
Once a debt collector understands a consumer’s situation, and especially when a consumer isn’t in a position to repay, it will change how they handle the account. While the debt collection calls may continue, they will be much less frequent when the debt collector is aware of what is going on. So even if consumers are not in a position to pay, they should take the time to speak with the debt collector, if for nothing else than to update their records.
It’s also important to check your credit as you negotiate with debt collectors. Collection accounts can have a significant impact on your credit scores, so it is important to know whether they are being reported and how they are impacting your scores. You can monitor two of your credit scores for free with a Credit.com account.