You can send a letter (certified return receipt) to the collection agency instructing them to ONLY communicate with you in writing. I think a sample letter, along with a listing of your rights as a debtor) or posted on the group web site. You can also check them out at the Better Business Bureau online. Hope that helps!

I wouldn’t mind talking/negotiating with the right party. I am concerned, however, that I cannot be sure who it is that is really on the other end, whether phone or mail. If my credit card company has written off the account and sold it to a third party, shouldn’t they let me know who it is?

As far as I understand it, the CC company doesn’t have to tell you but when I contacted the CC company about collectors who contacted me, the CC would tell me who they sold the account to. I then contacted the BBB then sent the certified letters. I am working with a DMP and they were also able to verify the legitimacy of the collection agencies and work out payment plans with them.