Consumer Rights from Door to Door Sales to Debt Collection - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Learning About Consumer Rights from Door to Door Sales to Debt Collection

Consumer Rights from Door to Door Sales to Debt Collection

There's a lot to think about when it comes to protecting your money, parting with it to buy a new product or service and of course paying your debts. And financial experts say April may the time to get your house in order. This is Financial Literacy Month.

First, parting with your money to buy a new product. Recently, several residents in one Savannah neighborhood complained to police regarding some door to door salespeople. These folks were reportedly selling alarm systems. Bret Bell, city of Savannah spokesperson says not everyone who comes to your door is probably out to scam you. But he does say homeowners have the right to know as much as possible about the business they are being asked to deal with. "they have to have a business tax certificate in order to have a salesperson knocking on your door," he tells me.

Bell says there is nothing that necessarily prohibits door to door sales, but the company must be able to prove it has the business tax certificate. He says a salesperson should be carrying a copy of it. He even says if in doubt, you can call the Savannah Revenue Department at 912-651-6450 (during business hours.) He says someone there can look up the business to see if it has the necessary certificate.

Police say whether the company is legitimate or not, you are not obligated to let a stranger on your property or to open your door. "But what you need to do as a homeowner is know if a person comes to your house it's your right to either let them in or don't let them in," Officer Barry Lewis from Savannah-Metro Police told us.

Lewis also says it's not a good idea to provide financial information. "Don't give it out. That is the bottom line, do not give your information out, there's no reason to," he said.

The issue of providing financial information is critical now to try to avoid identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission has advice on how to guard sensitive information and avoid becoming a victim of the nation's fastest growing crime as well as learn more about your rights as a consumer.

When it comes to paying debts, making timely payments helps give you a decent credit score. But if you're late on payments or if you simply don't pay a debt, it may be turned over to a debt collecting service.

"While no one really wants to get a call or letter telling them they owe money, consumers need to know they are not alone," Georgia Collectors Association (GCA) President Greg Shreve says. "Each year, for many very legitimate and often unavoidable reasons, millions of consumers fall behind on payments and are contacted by a debt collector."

Consumers do have rights under federal and state law, which include not being harassed or threatened.

According to the GCA, avoiding the call won't make the debt go away. If you feel you don't owe the money, refusing to communicate won't be helpful. It may be best to talk with whoever calls to resolve the issue, especially if you can prove they've reach the wrong person.

You can ask for identification. Debt collectors are not supposed to call anonymously or present themselves as being a representative of a government entity. When contacted, collectors must identify themselves and the name of the collection agency they represent.

The GCA says by law, the collector must inform you of your right to dispute the debt and provide written verification if you dispute it in writing. All collection activity stops until this verification is provided.

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