Frequently Asked Questions

This material is for use only if you dispute a debt especially a debt you never heard of. For example someone in a distant city used your social security number to get a credit card or buy a car, etc. and the bills came to you.

Updated 7/16/00.

Questions People Will Ask You

Questions You May Want To Ask

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Questions People Ask You

Q:  (Bill collector on telephone) When are you going to make your car payment (or equity loan payment, or whatever)?

A:  Ask the person who bought the car (took out the loan, etc.). I did not buy the car (take out the loan, etc.) I am not paying you.

Q:  (In courtroom, person pointing to a piece of paper) Is that your signature:

A:  I am not sure. Let me take the paper home and I need to check my records.

More on your signature

Q:  (Person on telephone or on other side of a counter) What is your address? What is your social security number? What is your mother's maiden name?

A:  Tell me what you think my address is (social security number is, etc.) and I will say yes or no. Then wait silently until s/he speaks. If s/he gets it mostly correct, say no even if just one digit is wrong and do not help him/her guess. After saying the single word yes or no, wait silently for him/her to say the next word. Also if s/he does not get it right the second time, don't answer at all for any more guesses and instead tell him/her that s/he obviously does not know it and that you are not the person s/he is looking for. If s/he gives your correct former address, you should then give him/her your correct current address.)

Q:  It's dinner time or you are watching your favorite TV show when a bill collector calls.

A:  Regardless of the question s/he asks, interupt him/her saying you are busy and tell him/her to "put it in writing". If the other person keeps talking, turn the phone handset with the earpiece under your chin and say into the mouthpiece, "I am busy, call back later". Then hang up.

Q:  Your answering machine has just a name and a long distance number on it, or possibly a message from a bill collector.

A:  Call back only if it is toll free (800, 888, 877). Otherwise call collect.

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Questions You May Want To Ask

Q:  Should I pay part of the bill to compromise?

A:  Definitely not unless a court orders you to. If you pay part of it you are admitting to owing the money (the buzz word is acquiescence).

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Is That Your Signature?

At some point in time, perhaps in a courtroom, you might be shown one paper after another showing what looks like your signature, and you are asked "is that your signature?". Do not say "yes" because that means you admit to signing that paper. Also you cannot say "no" because some of the papers may be copies of papers you really did sign. Instead say that you are not sure and need to take the paper with you and check your records. If the other person interrupts you, stop talking but do not say "yes" or "no". If the other person shows you another paper and asks the same question, "is this your signature", you start saying the same answer, that you are not sure and need to take the paper with you. Keep repeating the same thing over and over.

Suppose the other person argues that if you cannot identify your own signature, he should not have to also and you should be responsible for the debt. You deny that, saying that you are willing to take the papers home to research the documents now and also that he should have taken the time to research the signature back when the paper was signed.

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All parts (c) copyright 2000, Allan W. Jayne, Jr. unless otherwise noted or other origin stated.

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