If you owe money you cannot repay, you need a plan. Do not ignore the problem. There are people who can help you.
Where do I start?
- Make a budget
- Write down what you make and spend in a month
- Look at where your money goes
- Look for ways to save money
- Call the companies where you owe money
- Explain why you have trouble paying the bill
- Ask for a plan to let you pay less each month
- Get help from a credit counselor
How can I get help?
Look for a credit counselor who will meet you in person. Then ask questions. These questions will help you select a counselor:
- What can you do to help me?
- How much will I have to pay?
- Do you have free education and information?
- Are you licensed to work in my state?
Look for a credit counselor who can do the most for you. You might have to pay some money for help. But a good credit counselor will not ask you to pay in advance.
What do I do about calls from debt collectors?
When you talk to a debt collector:
- Keep a notebook by your phone.
- Ask: What is your name, company, address, and phone number? Write the date and time you talked.
- Say: I will only talk when I get the written validation.
- If the collector threatens you or uses bad language, hang up. He is breaking the law.
- You can file a complaint about a debt collector by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357.
When you get the validation notice:
- The notice should list the “creditor.” The creditor is the person you owe money to. You can call the creditor to get more information.
- If you do not think the debt is yours, it should tell you what to do next to question the debt.
- If the debt is yours, make a plan for how to pay it.
If you want the collector to stop calling:
- Write a letter to the debt collector. Tell him to stop calling you immediately. Send the letter by Certified Mail and ask for a “return receipt.” The law says he must stop calling you when he gets your request in writing.
- If that debt collector still calls, Call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint.