• Because creditors sell old debts, you may not recognize the name of the company trying to collect.
• If you pay an old debt, keep a canceled check to prove it.
• If collection papers contain a mistake, request a correction in writing and keep a copy for your records.
• If you agree to a payment plan, make sure it's realistic, that it reduces the debt and get the terms in writing.
• If you get a summons and complaint, it means you are being sued and the case is going to court. Respond promptly in writing even if the case hasn't been filed in court yet. Keep a copy of your answer.
• If you need forms or help understanding the legal process, ask a court clerk for assistance. They can guide you to volunteer attorneys. The Minnesota Court Self-Help Center is at 651-259-3888.
• Consumers may get help, though not legal advice, from the Minnesota attorney general's office at 651-296-3353.
Sources: National Consumer Law Center, Self-Help Center, caveatemptorblog.com