Michiganders Deal with Debt Collectors

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Michigan has been hard hit by the recession, and many people are still trying to recover. Most people dread receiving a call from a debt collector, but avoiding them won't make them go away. The debt load in Michigan is far heavier than in decades past. Authentic debt collection has gone up, but so have debt collection scams. There are a few things to know if you're contacted.

'The first thing we will always tell anybody is... the debt collector when they call the person on the other end of the phone they have to identify themself. That's number one. We have to tell them who we are and where what are from and what we are calling about," said Tom Terres, the President of the Mid-Michigan Collection Bureau.

Debt collectors must also inform you of your right to dispute the debt. You can also request written verification to validate the debt owed and authenticity of the collection agency, but avoiding a collector won't make them go away.

"We try to let them know to fully communicate with us. We're there to help them. And if they can communicate with us on a level that makes them feel comfortable, then hopefully we can get things resolved for them," said Terres.

Do not provide any personal information until you are certain that the collector is authentic. The FTC and Attorney General's offices are also important sources. If you doubt the authenticity of the person who is contacting you, give them a call. Most importantly, just be careful. Don't give your social security number or personal information to anyone who seems suspicious.

Links to sources that answer debt questions are available on our "hot button."