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Federal officials release letters to help stop abusive debt collectors


WASHINGTON, DC (WSAU) - The newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to help you stop abusive debt collectors.

The agency has drafted a series of letters to help people struggling with debt to deal with harassment by creditors and protect their rights. Associate director for consumer education Gail Hillebrand says these letters conform to federal standards on how debt collectors should be working with you. "If you're exercising your legal rights under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, and that's ignored, you should complain to the CFPB."

The series of letters handle a number of subjects, including verifying that a debt belongs to you, telling a collector to contact your attorney, and informing collectors to only contact you in a manner that you're able to handle. "If you want to write to your debt collector and say 'I'm not sure this is me, can you please explain what this debt is and why you think it's me?' We offer a sample letter to do that."

Hildebrand stresses that the best way to handle your debt is to deal directly with a creditor before it becomes a problem. "If you know you can't pay, you should contact the original creditor, and the sooner you do that, you'll often get a much better shake from the creditor."

ON THE WEB: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/debtcollection/