Can a collection agency refuse to honor agreed upon arrangements without cause?

UPDATED: May 29, 2009

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Can a collection agency refuse to honor agreed upon arrangements without cause?

Received a call from a woman at an agency regarding a debt I owe. I was eager to pay down the debt, so we agreed on an amount and I gave her a post dated check via phone for the first payment, with the understanding that I would receive written confirmation prior to the check clearing. Next day, I get a call from another woman.. She said the agreement was not acceptable, I’d have to pay more and the first payment would have to be made in 24 hours. I told her I was in a hurry and unable to discuss it at the moment, she refused to end the call. She said I had to agree since I own a home. Legal?

Asked on May 29, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey


N. K., Member, Iowa and Illinois Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Before you pay anything to the collection agency, you should receive any arrangement/agreement you make with them in writing. If not, you will keep experiencing what you already have: different calls from the agency demanding different terms.

Collection agencies are in the business of collecting whatever they can and unfortunately they sometimes use tactics that are less than ethical. For this reason, make sure you write down everything that is said, the names of the people you speak to, and get written confirmation from the agency.

The written confirmation detailing an agreed-upon payment plan protects you later in case the agency wants to sue you in court claiming you are not paying the debt.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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