No one wants to go toe-to-toe with a debt collector. Even the most pleasant of them still have an extremely unpleasant job to carry out.
Many are not exactly easy to deal with, either. Knowing how to handle them can thus go a long way.
Do research on the debt
Bankrate discusses how to handle debt collectors when they come. First, get some information on the supposed debt owed.
You should collect this information without confirming or denying that the debt belongs to you. Ask for things like the original debt amount and creditor, and how much you owe. Such information should get submitted to you in writing by a debt collector within five days of first contact.
Ignoring the calls and contact of a debt collector will only do you damage and harm your credit score, so this is not an ideal option.
However, it is always important to avoid giving away information excessively. Do not share anything over the phone like how you intend to pay off the debt. On the other hand, debtors have a legal obligation to give you information about this debt.
Get important information in writing
Legitimate debt collectors will always communicate things in writing, as it is crucial to have a paper trail if any of this ends up in court. Never settle for spoken word for deals, agreements and so on.
Attempt to negotiate
Finally, once you have all of the information you need, attempt to settle with the debt collector. Some will accept a portion of the debt if you pay it upfront. Others may wish to set up payment plans with you. In either case, it makes paying off the debt more bearable.