Never give a debt collector electronic access to your bank account.
Ethically, if you settle with a debt collector and you give them your bank account information, they're only supposed to take what was agreed upon. Ethically. But it happens: you settle a $1,000 debt for $250 dollars and you authorize them to take our $250. The next day, you found out your bank account was wiped out. You had $1,000 in there but you had other obligations, as well as food, you were going to use with that money.
Never EVER give them access to your bank account. Once you recieve a settlement in writing--that's the other key, it must be in writing--send them a money order or cashier's check for the amount. If they tell you that they won't accept it, hang up on them.
Here's the first step though: you need to actually have the money. To try settle when you don't have the money is foolish.
In the scenario above, one may question why more would be taken. The answer is simple: debt collectors are salespeople, and it's their job to collect money from you. That's it. If it was brought before a judge and you told the judge, "But your honor, they told me they'd take $250 for the $1,000 debt." The judge would then ask where the agreement is. You don't have it. In the judge's mind, it never happened. You owe the balance of the debt.
The bottom line is this: NEVER, under any circumstances, give a debt collector electronic access to your bank account.
Am I unclear?
Have you had any unfortunate experiences with a debt collector? Please share your stories in the comments section below, so we can better arm people with the knowledge on how to deal with these people.