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Head On: Tips for Facing Creditors in Tough Times
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America is facing an economic crisis, and you are facing a homeless service provider’s salary. Here are some basic tips to help keep your credit afloat, even when times are tough.
Head On: Tips for Facing Creditors in Tough Times

Tara Vary is a Project Assistant with the Homelessness Resource Center (HRC). Prior to joining the HRC, Tara worked for a non-profit mortgage lender. Tara shares some tips gained from her experience working in collections.

I will never regret the year that I spent doing collection calls for a non-profit lender. As strange as it might sound, I helped a lot of people keep their homes. Unfortunately, not all lenders have the flexibility to support borrowers in this way. With the current economic crisis and the typically low salaries in homeless services, more and more of us could get these annoying collection calls. So how do you successfully deal with a collection agent?

  • DO be proactive. If you know you cannot pay a bill or will pay it late, call them first. Courtesy and communication can go a long way to save your credit score.
  • DON’T pay them if you don’t owe the money. Does your statement look funny this month? Don’t remember that overseas shopping spree that’s showing up on the bill? Companies can make mistakes just like the rest of us – don’t pay for their errors.
  • DO keep records. Know what and whom you have paid. Be able to back it up.
  • DON’T ignore the problem. It will not go away. Read the collection notices when they come in the mail. Speak to the collection agents when they call.
  • DO ask to speak to another agent, if your agent is a bully. It is completely acceptable to ask for someone who will be willing to go through your options and help solve the problem.
  • DON’T lose your temper. Speak reasonably and rationally. If you are too upset, ask the agent for her contact information and call back when you can talk about it.
  • DO open your mail – all of your mail. Remember the little bills are as important as the big ones. You might be tempted to toss aside what looks like a collection letter or monthly statement…but you could be wrong. It’s not worth risking your credit by avoiding your mail.
  • DON’T agree to something that you cannot deliver. This will only lead you to defaulting again. The collection agency may not be as willing to work with you a second time.
  • DON’T make a financial decision without looking at your finances. The collection agent may call when you are busy and pressure you to make a decision. If you don’t have the time and don’t have access to your financial information, this is not the right time to solve the problem.
  • DO seek help. An agent maybe willing to wait a little longer if they think you are seeking help with your credit. There are nonprofit groups that will help you for free. Check out the resources below:
Get Help:
Know Your Rights:
Do it Yourself:
Other Related Items:
HRC Resource
2009
Newton Centre, MA
617-467-6014
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