AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Whether it’s credit card or medical bills, your mortgage, car or student loan, even your cell phone bill — paying for life adds up fast. For 1 in 3 Americans, that pile of bills becomes too overwhelming; their debts and unpaid bills get reported to collection agencies.
“We live in a society that’s all about spending. That makes putting everything on credit quite easy. Buy now, pay later. It’s not hard for people to end up in that situation,” said Tom Sawyer from Westfield.
Unpaid bills typically go to collections after 90-180 days of nonpayment. Once you receive a collection letter, you have 30 days to dispute it.
Having debt in collections isn’t just something that hangs over your head. It can hurt your credit score, which could keep you from getting hired for a job or approved for an apartment. That’s why the biggest mistake you can make — aside from not paying in the first place — is ignoring the collection letter and hoping it goes away.
“Let them know your situation and try to work out a plan that’s feasible. Sometimes people work out plans they just can’t afford just to appease the creditor on the phone. Don’t do that, work out something you can afford even if the collector is being pushy,” said John Szalicki of Cambridge Credit Counseling.
22News is working for you with ways to stay on top of your bills:
- Create a budget and live within it.
- Track your spending and keep future bills in mind.
- When you receive a bill in the mail, write its due date on the envelope so you don’t forget to pay it.
- Check your credit score every year to make sure you’re in good standing.