Surviving the Debt Crisis
Katie Lopez/KGBT-TV (NBC/Brownsville, TX)
2 December 2011
Craig Miller never thought he would face the challenges he is met with today.
“It has now come down to, do I eat today or do I pay a creditor?
” Legally blind and unemployed—Miller found his debt increasing as he struggled with this decision.
"Just being unemployed and not getting a job quick enough just escalated the debt...to where you just couldn't keep up anymore," Miller explained.
With nowhere to turn, Miller said he continued to endure the dozens of harassing phone calls from debt collectors day in and day out.
"You have no self worth anymore,” Miller told Action 4 News. “It's really disheartening to deal with it on a seven day basis because they do it on Saturday and Sundays too."
Unfortunately, Miller’s reality is the same for many Americans. With the unemployment rate still high and mounting debt growing---many believe there is no way to avoid the debt collectors harassing phone calls.
In the state of Texas, however, there is a way.
"They can't harass you, abuse you, or use foul language,” Marla Lutz, with GreenPath Debt Solutions, explained. “If they do you can file a complaint against them with the Federal Trade Commission."
The reason debt collectors harass people, Lutz said, is because they do not know their rights.
"There's a law that states if you write them a letter and ask them to stop calling you they have to stop calling you," Lutz said.
She said there are simple do’s and don’ts when dealing with debt collectors. Lutz said the most important thing a person needs to do is find out what their rights are and if they get those harassing phone calls—simply write a letter to the creditor and tell them to stop.
She added, when a person works out an agreement with a credit agency they need to make sure and get it in writing.
Lutz said a person should never ignore a creditor, give out their bank account number, or give a post dated check.
She said, if you live in Texas and your debt is more than four years old…."If it's over four years old they can no longer collect on the debt. You can always write them a letter stating that.
“But adds, while they can longer collect on the debt it does stay on the a person’s credit report for seven years.
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