What to do if they contact you
Handling Collection Agencies
The first rule of handling collection agencies is: Don’t ignore them!
You have rights under the law, but you have to respond immediately to protect yourself.
Contact the collection agency right away to find out what the problem is. You may not owe the money:
If you don’t owe the money, explain why, and send them a letter with copies of supporting documents, such as receipts, notices of cancellation, or police reports.
If you believe you don’t owe the money, don’t promise to pay them.
What if I cannot afford to pay?
Depending on your situation, you may have a number of options:
Can they take my paycheck or property?
Usually they cannot take your wages or property unless they sue you and win.
Some debts don’t require a judgment for collection, such as student loans and child support payments. If a collection agency is threatening to take your paycheck or property, call us for help.
Things collection agencies cannot do
By law, collection agencies cannot:
Can they contact my employer or other people I know?
They can only contact them to find out where you live and where you work. They cannot discuss the debt with them.
They cannot call you at work if you have told them that your employer does not allow such calls.
Can I stop them from contacting me?
Yes. Send them a letter by certified and regular mail telling them not to contact you. Keep a copy for your records.
After they get your letter they can contact you only one more time to tell you what they are going to do. If they contact you more than once, you can sue them and you may get up to $1,000 per violation.
Civil Codes 1788.10-13, 1788.30(b)
Contact us for more information or speak with one of our counselors at (800) 593-8222. If you live outside of Southern California, call us at (213) 974-1452.
Updated May 5, 2008
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