The dirty little secret of debt collecting is that most of them are not working directly for the original company you ran up the debt with. They’re an outside third party and they bought your debt for pennies on the dollar. The debt collector’s goal is to get the most money out of you for the least amount of effort. This means all you have to do to make this calculus work to your advantage is settle with the debt collector for around the same price he paid to buy your debt. So start low.
Make an offer like 30% of what you owe. Or somewhere between 10 to 25 cents on the dollar. If you owe $1,000, offer to pay $250. If you owe $5,000, see if they will take $500. At this point it’s all in the art of the deal and how good a haggler you are.
A few things to remember. First, you’ll want to make sure that you really do owe the money and these guys really have the right to collect it. Second, a settled debt will still show up on your credit report as a negative item, whether it’s reported as being settled or as being charged off.
But after you get over those humps, play let’s make a deal and see how low you can get them to go.