CHICAGO, IL / ACCESSWIRE / March 2, 2020 / Joel Bernheim, an expert in debt collection with over 25 years of experience, has taken it upon himself to demystify the industry. His website, JoelBernheim.com, provides resources for collections professionals and consumers alike.
On his site you can find Bernheim’s online publication, which delves into the details of debt collection and how consumers can manage both to avoid collections and protect themselves if they find themselves falling behind in his first three white papers.
Bernheim’s first topic, “How to Effectively Manage Household Debt,” explains the six main categories of debt, which includes credit card debt. Bernheim also provides stats on the percentage of consumers who utilize each category of debt.
This white paper is all about managing finances without taking on more debt than can be comfortably managed and is for the consumer who wants to avoid falling behind. Bernheim provides a bill checklist as well as links to printable templates consumers can use to track their debt and plan their bill payments.
Bernheim’s second white paper, “How to Effectively Manage PAST-DUE Household Debt,” is all about what consumers can do once they’ve fallen behind. Bernheim stresses here that the most effective tool consumers have is communication.
“Collection practitioners are, contrary to popular opinion, very sympathetic to the consumer’s financial situation. After all, we are people too,” says Bernheim.
If consumers have limited resources to repay delinquent debt, the best thing they can do is keep in contact with whoever is servicing the delinquent debt to understand their options and be able to practice what Bernheim calls “thoughtful repayment.”
Thoughtful repayment is the practice of keeping other accounts in good standing while making arrangements to pay delinquent accounts as the consumer is able. In this way, consumers can avoid more bad debt.
Bernheim’s third white paper -“Now that you are in collections, what to do?“- is all about the collections process. In this article, he covers consumer rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
This is an explanation of what third-party debt collectors can and cannot do, including when they can contact consumers and what kinds of communication they can engage in. For example, debt collectors can only call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and they must identify themselves.
This “mini-Miranda” as Bernheim calls it, is mandated by the FDCPA and requires debt collectors to reveal to consumers that they are attempting to collect a debt and that any information given to them will be used for that purpose.
Debt collectors are also required to provide the name of their company to consumers. Bernheim notes that legitimate debt collection agencies should be happy to provide information about themselves that consumers can use verify who they are, such as their business address and contact information.
Bernheim stresses in this article that consumers should always verify the legitimacy of not only the debt collector, but of the debt itself and the consumer’s liability for it. The FDCPA requires that debt collection agencies provide a “proof of debt” within five days of initial communication when requested.
This is a hard copy document that the collection agency must mail to the consumer. It includes a list of statements, including the amount of the debt and the name of the original creditor. Bernheim advises that consumers always verify with the original creditor that the debt has been sold to a third-party agency for recovery.
This third white paper is all about protecting the consumer, but Bernheim notes that FDCPA regulation is also protection for collection agencies. “Rules and regulations provide a fair balance that enables the debt collector and consumer to communicate effectively in a safe environment to resolve outstanding delinquencies.” According to Bernheim, it’s all about being informed.
SOURCE: Joel Bernheim
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