Debt rules changing; how to check your FICO score for free

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – 70 million people have debt in collection, and a new study finds that, a third of the time, collectors don’t even have the right amount.

Yet they still call, which is why a government agency is proposing major changes to the rules.

7News talked with Donovan Acorn who says he got collection calls.

“They constantly would call me all the time and I would get mail twice a week,” Acorn said.

He says he didn’t even know whether the amount was right.

Now, that could change, thanks to new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We asked S.C. Legal Services Attorney Susan Ingles how significant these proposals were, and she said “For me, I think these proposals are very significant because this is a very serious problem we have in this country.”

The changes would, in part, force collectors to substantiate the debt and amount, limit calls to six per week, and ban lawsuits where there’s not proper documentation.

You can see the full list of changes by clicking here.

Even without these new regulations, you still have rights. Debt collectors can’t take you to jail, they can’t garnish your wages under most circumstances, and they can’t even harass you. You don’t have to talk to them.

“But they still do it. I have clients come in on a weekly basis who are scared that they’re going to go to jail because they cannot pay a credit card debt,” Ingles said.

Which is why, Ingles says, the new rules are badly needed to clear up misconceptions.

Donovan Acorn was talked into a payment program, even though he wasn’t sure it was fair.

“They said it was supposed to help me with my credit, and who knows if it did anything,” Acorn said.

There’s another tool to help with that, too. CreditScoreCard.com will tell you your FICO score and credit history. It’s run by Discover but you don’t have to be a card member.

So even if debt collectors fail to verify the debt until the changes become law, you can request proof, and do the research online to make sure you pay what you owe, and not a penny more.

You can check Discover’s privacy policy by clicking here.

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