Debt Collection A to Z: Q is for Questions

Questions can be good things.  Sometimes folks do not ask enough of them.  Other times people forget to ask the correct questions.  And as we all have heard at some point in our lives the only dumb questions are the ones you do not ask.  Is this really true?  Hmm…that’s a question for another day.  Moving on…

QuestionsIn the world of debt collection the debtor (person who owes money) needs to know the right questions to ask the collector or creditor at the appropriate time.

If a debtor is contacted by a collector or other entity with whom he is not familiar the debtor should ask questions such as:  who are you?  did you buy this debt?  have you been assigned to collect on this debt?  what proof do you have of your right to collect money from me? are you licensed to collect debts in my state?

If a debtor is communicating with a collector or creditor regarding a settlement/negotiation/compromise of a debt the following questions should be asked:  can I get our agreement in writing?  are you going to issue a 1099 for the portion of the debt that is being waived or forgiven? how soon after payoff will you report my satisfaction of this debt to the credit reporting agencies?

If a debtor is approached by a creditor or collector who seeks a larger sum of money than what the debtor thinks is actually due it is vital to ask for an itemization of the amount allegedly owed on the debt including a breakout of the portion which is principal, interest, late fees, penalties, and/or other charges.

These situations and questions are not comprehensive as there are a myriad of scenarios in which additional questions should be asked and at different times.  Frankly, this stuff can get complicated given the number of laws that may apply so one would be well-advised to consult legal counsel when faced with a situation where questions need to be asked.  The cost of a lawyer can sometimes be well worth it if it affords the debtor some security and good advice moving forward.


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