ACA International, the association of credit and collection professionals, today offers personal finance tips for consumers. Careful planning and active communication are important tools to effectively managing personal finances, particularly if a consumer is struggling to make payments on their current debt obligations or being contacted by a debt collector.
- Plan and Budget: Determine what you can reasonably afford, create a budget and plan, and stick to it. Keep in mind that purchases on credit will need to be repaid at some point in the future.
- Track your Spending: Keep tabs on how much you spend to help stay within budget guidelines.
- Protect your Identity: Be careful about giving personal information including a credit or debit card number over the phone and online. Monitor your accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card company. Consumers should monitor their credit and are entitled to a free credit report each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you believe your identity has been stolen, contact your local police department.
- Communicate with Creditors: Having trouble making payments on an existing debt? Contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangements. It won’t eliminate your debt but it can make things more manageable. Communication is particularly important if you are behind in payments to a creditor (e.g., credit card, loan, mortgage, medical) to avoid having the debt appear on credit reports.
- Communicate with the Debt Collector: If you hear from a debt collector, avoiding a letter or call won’t make the debt disappear. The reason for the contact cannot be resolved without the ability to communicate; whether it’s to pay an owed debt, verify an alleged debt or confirm that the debt collector has reached the wrong person.
- Consumers have Rights: Consumers deserve to be treated respectfully and have rights under federal and state law. For more information about consumer rights in debt collection or to ask questions, visit www.askdoctordebt.org.
ACA International is the comprehensive, knowledge–based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together more than 5,000 members, and their employees, in the United States and abroad including third–party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA International establishes ethical standards, produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers.