How to Negotiate With a Bill Collector

Having the skills to negotiate with a bill collector can save you a lot of money in the long run. The problem is that most bill collectors are experts at putting pressure on you and controlling the situation. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to take back control of the situation and negotiate acceptable payment terms that you can stick to.


1. Take some to time look at the size of the debt and determine how much you can afford to pay. There is no sense in negotiating terms that you can’t meet, so it’s important to know exactly what kind of resources you have to work with. If you have a very small amount of debt and a little bit of cash saved up, you may be able to negotiate a cash settlement for a savings of up to 80% of your total debt. If you can only afford monthly payments your best option is to negotiate payment terms that are affordable.

2. Contact the collection agency that’s pursuing you for the debt and ask to speak to an agent or representative. Most often, you will already be assigned to a person who manages your file and this is who you’ll need to speak with. However, if you happen to be assigned to someone who has a bad attitude or treats you unfairly, you can ask to speak with another account manager or a supervisor.

3. Inform them that you are calling to either settle in full or set up a payment arrangement. Again, this depends upon how much money you have to work with and the size of your debt, as discussed in step 1.

4. Spell out the terms of your offer and don’t be deterred by how they respond to it. If you’re negotiating a cash debt settlement, it’s best to come in with a slightly lower number and negotiate up to the highest amount that you’re able to pay. If you’re negotiating monthly payment terms, it’s best to state the amount that you can afford to pay and don’t waiver from that amount or time frame. Debt collectors are masters of manipulation and they’ll try anything to get you to offer more money or sooner payment terms.

5. Get confirmation of the agreement once you’ve settled on acceptable terms. If you’ve negotiated a cash debt settlement, ask for a faxed copy of the terms before you provide your payment information. If you’ve negotiated monthly payment terms, you can ask for them to mail you a copy of the agreement.


Don’t ever release information about where you work, where you bank, or your current employment status. Bill collectors often use this information to create unnecessary pressure on you to pay, and ultimately it’s none of their business.

Don’t believe it if a bill collector tells you that the debt is “not negotiable.” ALL debt is negotiable, and when they tell you it’s not they are simply trying to trick you into paying more.

Remember to be courteous and respectful at all times, even if they aren’t treating you the same way. When you act in a professional manner it lends more credibility to your case, and they  will usually be more willing to accept the terms that you offer.

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Filed in: Finance

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