When dealing with a debt collector, you must take careful notes of all communications. If you have to prove you made an agreement, or that the collector violated your rights, you cannot rely on the debt collector’s notes, which are usually cryptic, incomplete, and self-serving.
You should also record your phone calls, if you can. Recordings are the best proof, but notes are essential whether or not you record.
This collection log will help you keep track of collection communications.
How to use the communications log
The collection communications log (PDF) is meant to help you track all collection communications. Include letters, emails, phone calls, faxes, Facebook messages, text messages, and any other communications. You should try to build an accurate, detailed, chronological record of what happened.
First, try to reconstruct everything that has already happened. Write down all the calls, letters, etc., to date. For calls, write down as much as you can remember, and try to get the dates right. If you aren’t sure about the dates, get as close as you can (“the beginning of March,” for example, is better than a blank).
In the notes column, try to write down exactly what you said and exactly what the collector said. Do your best. The space on the call log is probably not enough, but you can use extra lines or sheets of paper if you need to.
From now on, keep the log next to your phone. The columns will help you get the information you need, and taking notes while you are on the phone—or right afterward—is the best way to make sure you get an accurate record.
Preserving other communications records
If you have voicemails on your phone, use the same methods outlined in Step 3 or our guide to recording phone calls to transfer the voicemails to your computer. Most voicemail services automatically delete messages after a certain period of time, so you need to save what you have in case you need it later.
For cell phone call logs and text messages, either export them, if your phone allows it, or take a screenshot of the logs or messages and save the screenshots to your computer (on an iPhone, press the power and home buttons at the same time; on an Android phone, you’ll need to jump through a few hoops, at least until version 4.0 rolls out).
Keep copies of letters, emails, and any other communications. Note them on the collection communications log, too, and keep them together in a safe place.
When to talk to a lawyer
If you think a collector is violating an agreement you made, or if you think a collector is abusing you, assemble your notes and contact a consumer lawyer in your state for help.