Houston attorney Loraine Lyons serves on the board of ACA International, a trade association of credit providers and collection agencies. She says the best thing consumers can do to avoid getting overwhelmed by post-holiday bills is to plan and budget their purchases carefully.
For those consumers who fall behind on their bills, though, Lyons says it's important they know their rights.
"If you are contacted by a [legitimate] collection agency, you will receive information about the obligation being collected. You will know, or be told, either in writing or verbally, who the creditor is, how much is being collected, and you will have that information so that you will know that I am paying the correct party."
You can find additional information on consumer rights in dealing with creditors and debt collectors at AskDoctorDebt.org, a web site operated by ACA International.