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Know your rights. As soon as you know that you cannot afford to make your payments, you have to learn what the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act say about you. FDCPA for short, this law states how debt collectors must and must not collect from you. This will help you determine when they are bluffing or crossing the line.
Know your debts. There are debt collection agencies who buy out old debts from creditors. To avoid being tricked to pay something that you never should, you have to know your debts. Identify if there are debts that are past the statute of limitations or if you are being harassed for a debt that you did not make in the first place.
Know your debt relief plan. Regardless of how financially hard up you are, you need to start considering a debt relief plan. You have to pay off your debt somehow. If it involves a simple restructuring of debts or a more significant debt reduction, you have to choose a plan to get out of your credit problems.
In the end, your knowledge of the whole thing and your rights as a consumer will help you deal with abusive debt collectors. You can explore more of your rights by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website.