In the course of life, anyone with a debt account may have at least one account go into delinquency as a result of life circumstances. Many situations, from a medical emergency to losing a job, can force Americans to make difficult decisions about who gets paid when. Those facing this situation should remember they are not alone. In a 2014 study completed by the Urban Institute, 77 million Americans – or one in three people – had at least one delinquent account.
While a minor delinquency can result in an account being closed, a major delinquency of 180 days or more can result in the debt being sold to a collection agency. If you are contacted by a debt collector for a delinquent balance, there is no reason to panic. Instead, everyone can get through a debt collection activity by staying calm, understanding their rights, and making a plan to get through the collection.
Collect the Facts: Who, What, When and Why
When a debt collector first contacts an individual, they may attempt to use many tactics to either coerce the individual to admit responsibility for the debt, or commit to making any payment on a debt. When an individual commits to either action, they could ultimately be responsible for that debt until it is satisfied.
Before engaging in any conversation with a debt collector, it is important to collect all the pertinent information about why you are being contacted about the debt. The facts should include who the debt is from, what the debt is for, when the debt became delinquent and why you are being contacted today by the debt collection agency. From there, request a written statement on the debt before engaging in any further discussion.