A collection agency is a business that purchases or arranges payment for money owed, or past debt, to another person or company. Collection agents specialize in recovering unpaid debts.
We understand that being in debt is stressful—and getting out of debt can seem daunting and emotional. But working with a collection agency doesn’t have to add insult to injury. Here are our 8 tips for working with a collection agency, rather than against them.
8 Tips for working with a collection agency
If your debt has been bought by, sold to, or sent to a collection agency, here’s what to do:
1. Obtain written notice
In Canada, you should receive a notice that your debt has been transferred to a collection agency before they contact you over the phone or in person etc. This should include the name of the agency, the business or person you owe money to and the amount owing.
2. Keep calm
Dealing with past debts and collection agencies can be stressful and emotional. Take a deep breath, calm yourself, don’t do anything hasty or make any promises that you can’t keep.
3. Get informed
Look into your past debt and ensure it is legitimate. If a collection agent calls you, collect information from them, tell them that you’ll call them back shortly and then do your due diligence.
4. Questions to ask a collection agency
In the initial phone conversation with the agent, be sure to get the following information from them:
- Name of the collection agent
- Company the debt collector works for
- Who they’re collecting money for
- Debt collector’s direct phone number
- How much you owe
- Who you owe the debt to
- When you started to owe the debt and for what
5. Do your due diligence
No matter how much pressure you feel under, give yourself time to look back through your bank statements and records to see if this debt is legitimate and within a reasonable timeframe. Research the collection agency and agent and ensure that they are legitimate and trustworthy (ie. not scammers).
6. When possible, pay the money you owe
If you legitimately owe the money and have the funds, pay back the full amount as soon as possible. This is in everyone’s best interest and should end your communications with the collector. When paying off your debt, there are do’s and don’ts to sending cash, cheques and giving access to your personal bank accounts for your financial security.
7. When you can’t pay your debt, understand your rights
If you can’t pay off your debt, it’s always good practice to understand your rights and ensure that your communication and transactions with collection agencies follow best practices. For example, in Canada, collection agencies cannot:
- Try to collect a debt without first notifying you
- Start a legal account without first notifying you
- Use threatening communications
- Share misleading information
8. Create a plan to pay off your debt
If you legitimately owe the debt and need to begin working your way out of it, know that you have options and can negotiate, budget and plan.
Several years ago, Business Insider interviewed Kenny Golde, a man in California who negotiated his way out of $150,000 worth of debt. He said he found success because he treated all interactions with debt collectors as business dealings. Golde understood that it was a collection agent’s job to collect funds, but he also knew that he had a very tight budget. By keeping his wits about him, sticking to his budget, making a plan, seeking professional opinions and advice, and negotiating with the agents, he got himself out of debt—and even wrote a book about it.
At Progressa, we work with people like you who have found themselves in sudden debt and need help. If you qualify, we pay off your debt and work together to make a budget and plan to get you out of debt for good—and improve your potentially-damaged credit for the future. Find out how Progressa works and if we’re right for you.
The author Sam Milbrath
Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and brand marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands or doing her own creative writing, she’s exploring, taking photographs, gardening and doing pottery. Check out her work at www.sammilbrath.com