The same number pops up on your phone every day. You know who it is, but you don’t want to answer it. It’s a debt collector wanting you to pay off a debt you owe. It seems easier to ignore the calls, but it’s really worse for you. It only delays the inevitable. If you owe the debt, the best option is to answer the phone. What do you say? What are your options?
It’s best to get information straight from the source, so Cedars Business Services, a reputable collection agency based in California, wants to help you understand how the process works and what your options are as a consumer.
- Answer the phone.
The first step sounds simple, but it’s usually the hardest part. Just answer the phone. Any agent that works for a legitimate agency like Cedars will be friendly and accommodating. There’s no reason to feel nervous talking to them. Not answering could eventually lead to your credit score being dinged and hurting you for years.
- Get detailed information about the debt you owe.
You have the right to ask for information about the account you’re being asked to pay. They can tell you the creditor, the product/service, amount owed, etc. This is important information to have in case any details they have to validate the account are inaccurate.
- Ask for options.
Often the amount a debtor owes is more than they can pay at that exact moment. Ask what your payment options are. Some agencies (like Cedars Business Services) have an online portal where you can set up a payment schedule and amount to pay yourself. There are also times the creditor is willing to offer a discount if you pay it off at once. That discount can sometimes be fairly significant and may be worth it to you. It’s also likely that you’ll be given a little time to get your finances in order and determine where to fit that payment in your budget.
- Pay it off.
Once you’ve determined the best payment option and/or schedule for you, make sure you pay it. If you make a payment schedule, don’t miss payments. The best debt you can have is one that you no longer owe, and the sooner you pay it off, the better you’ll feel.
- Create a budget for yourself.
Once you have your payment plan under control, consider creating a budget for yourself. Jot down all of your bills (don’t forget those pesky little subscriptions we all have too many of), and when and how much you get paid. Make as many of your payments automatically draft if you can and make a schedule to pay the rest. Keep a calendar of when and what to pay, and you’ll be less likely to end up in this situation again.
There’s really no reason to stress over a collection call. You may owe someone money, but so do most people. Financial situations change, things happen, and we’re all human. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just needs to be resolved. Take a deep breath, answer the phone and you’ll probably be surprised at how easy it really is to fix.