Well, I had the displeasure of my poor mother being harrassed by a representative "Tammie". She acted sweet as pie, wanting to work with her/us (as it was her account but it was actually my phone). So I contacted this "Tammie" and attempted to settle for 60% of what was 'owed' (which was a load of bubkiss, thanks every so much Sprint!!!!) Needless to say, she failed to mention we needed to set up BOTH payments immediately or else we wouldn't get the deal. She said we merely had to agree to the deal and set up the FIRST payment, NOT both. First payment set up 1/18/08. 2nd payment was finally set up today, but not before "Tammie" trying to squeeze extra money from us to fatten her commission, saying the original deal at 60% was no longer on the table, and that I had to pay 70% now. WHAT? So after being talked to like I was in kindergarten and doing a little online research, I hung up on her and called back, immediately asking to speak to a supervisor. I got HER supervisor who was more than willing to help. I told him my rights, and he abided by the original deal, and I got what I wanted.
FYI, though, for those of you who need this info:
Write everything down, or tape record if you can. Catch them at their lies.
Negotiate by asking to pay less. You are more than welcome to pay less than you owe, its called a settlement, and falls generally in the 50-60% mark. You can ask for it in writing before you pay, to ensure you're covered.
Make them stipulate that, in paying or settling, they will NOT negatively report you to the credit agencies.
Get a statement in writing from the previous biller/account holder (in my case, Sprint) that they have terminated the account, and will not attempt to come after you for any remaining balances (if you settle) or any amount owed once paid.
One warning: If you negotiate a settlement for less than you owe, you could end up paying taxes on the unpaid portion. But if the unpaid amount is less than $600, a collection agency does not have to report it to the IRS. Make this part of your written agreement.
Always pay with paper checks, not electronic bank drafts by phone or debit cards. It's to your advantage to have a physical record that you've paid, plus you control exactly what you're paying and when.
Be sure to get something in writing when the debt is paid. That way, if it does come up on your credit report, you have something to prove it was paid.
Understand the laws in your state.
File a complaint (as i did). If you suspect that a collection agent has crossed the line, call the FTC and your state's governing office and file complaints. (Yet another reason it's good to keep a written or tape-recorded diary.)
And if all else fails, sue.
More great information located here
I hope this helps!!!
Product or Service Mentioned: Allied Interstate Debt Collection.