but I'm going to post it anyways, especially because of what's going on in today's economy.
Some of you may or may not know what I do for a day job...no it's not jewelry...I wish, maybe someday, but for now my official title is Administrative Assistant...unofficially I'm a debt collector. Before you get your hackles up because of my job...finish reading the post. I'm hoping this will give you some tools to help.
How I got this job: Well there were a couple of factors but the main one being because of my own personal experience with debt collectors. My boss thought that because of my experiences that I would have the empathy to do a job that would help people.
I've had my own rash of dealing with debt collections...being on the other side of it especially after my car accident and losing half my wages. I didn't know how to handle it all...I felt overwhelmed, I was literally drowning in a sea of debt. Out of 6 debts only 2 would work with me. I was made to feel like I was less of a person...often yelled at and cussed out on many occasions. More times than not I got off the phone crying and feeling like I wasn't worthy to live on this planet. Dramatic maybe, but anyone who's been through it has probably felt the same way at one time or another.
How I do my job: I listen. I understand. I've been there. That's how I do it...plain and simple. I'm not about to kick you while your down. My job is to help you during a tough time. The only thing I need from you is communication and kept promises. Keep the lines open, talk to me, be open to suggestions. If you can only pay $15 a month on a large loan...so be it, I can do that....but if you can't make that payment, call me....let me know. I can help you through this tough time, but I can't do it all by myself...I need you too. I don't want your car, I don't want your house, the only thing I want is to help you get back on your feet again!
My advice to anyone who needs help: Know your rights as a consumer!
There is a law called the Fair Debt Collection Act
READ IT! I wish I would've known 1/10 of it when I was going through all of my hardships. It tells you as a consumer what the debt collectors can and cannot do. It's the most invaluable tool you can have. You can report any violations to your State Attorney Generals office (www.naag.org) or at the Federal Trade Commissions ( http://ftc.gov)
If you need to call your debts to do a workout have some things ready. Know what kind of payments you can make per month. Make sure it's an amount that you can do. I can't stress that part enough! Make sure it's an amount that still leaves you money to feed your family, put some gas in your car so you can get to work or search for work and pay for other essentials.
If the person you talk to isn't willing to work with you, keep climbing up the ladder until you find someone that will. I can't make any promises that they will all work with you, but you have to try.
Also, don't avoid your debt. It's not going to go away...trust me on this one, I've tried it...it didn't work out so well. If you have avoided your debt and it's been turned over to a Collection Agency, then when you get that first letter from the collection agency there will be some small print that states if you think the debt is in error you need to send them a letter within such in such days...normally 15 days of the letter. Do it! Ask them to show you the original documents in writing. Even if the debt is yours this will buy you a little bit of time to get your bills together and figure out what you can and can't afford to do. Once they've received the letter they cannot contact you again unless it's just to tell you that they've received it. If they provide the documents of proof then you need to call them for a workout. At this point most agencies are willing to work with you....again I say most because there are still some that may not. If you run into someone who won't, then like I said before keep climbing the ladder until you find someone who will.
There are many other scenarios that I didn't cover here, for example what do you do if the lender files a small claims against you, or when a lender sues you. If these things have happened to you or you would like more information on, let me know and I'll write up a post about it.
Take this time to empower yourself as a consumer. More than likely you're in a situation that is of no fault of your own, so stop beating yourself up! Get yourself into a position where you can say that you're doing the best you can with what you have and that's all that you can do!