Calls from debt collectors can spoil your mood and jeopardize your financial life. However, learning how to handle these calls and what to say and not to say can help you avoid financial troubles, legal issues, and emotional stress. This post is all about that.
What should you do when you receive a debt collection call?
What is the first thing you should do when a debt collector calls you? Should you pick up the call? Should you ignore the call? What should you do?
Well, you don’t have to do anything drastic initially. Decide if you want to speak with the debt collector. If you decide to talk to the debt collector, then you must know what exactly you must say. However, if you have any doubts about the validity of the debt, then you can ignore the call.
Here are a few steps that can help you make the best decision.
- Check your credit report and find out if the debt is listed there.
- Find out if the debt is a valid one.
- Look at the statute of limitations (SOL) period in your state.
If the debt is not listed on your credit report or it’s not a valid one or its SOL period has expired, then you can ignore the collection call. It won’t make much difference in your life. However, if the debt is valid and the SOL period has not expired, then you should receive the call.
What if the SOL period has expired, but the debt is valid, and is there on your credit report? In this case, you have to make the decision based on your priority. If you have no problem with the account being listed on your credit report, then you can ignore the call. However, if you don’t like to see the unpaid collection account on your credit report, then you can pick up the call and negotiate a settlement in writing later.
What should you say or shouldn’t say when a debt collector calls you?
Just think you’re spending a cozy evening with your friends and suddenly your phone rings. Oh! It’s that debt collector again.
A single call from a debt collector is enough to ruin your day. While it’s natural to be upset and afraid, there are a few approaches that may help you go through the process without enduring too much pain. When I’m talking about approach, it means the way you should talk to a debt collector when he rings you.
Here are a few examples of what you should say or shouldn’t say when a debt collector rings you:
- “Who am I speaking to? Are you my creditor or a debt collector?”
- “Who is calling please? Can you please tell the name of the company you’re working for? Are you calling me on behalf of the creditor?”
- “I’m turning on my tape recorder. Do you have any problem with it?”
- “Why don’t you send me a debt validation letter first? I don’t think this debt is mine.”
- “Well, I could have paid you but have a wedding next week. I need the money for it.”
- “Do I owe you any money? How much? When did this debt begin?”
- "Please tell me the itemized interest and fees accrued to my original debt amount."
- “Okay. Let me verify the information. I’ll get back to you.”
- “I can pay up to this. It’s not possible for me to pay the entire amount.”
- “Send me a settlement agreement letter before I proceed to make a payment.”
- “I don’t recall this debt. It would be better if you call the creditor first.”
- “Hello! I can’t hear you. What are you saying? Hello! Hello! Hello!” Get off the line."
- “This debt is not mine. I’m withdrawing permission for you to call me henceforth. Please send me your address so I can send a Cease and Desist letter to you.”
- “My bank account number is ###########.”
- “My Social Security Number is #########.”
- “The net value of my property is #########.”
- “I earn @&*%$& amount weekly.”
- “I pay $@#$% amount for my car every month.”
- “My other sources of income are…………..”
- “My spouse is working and earns $@#$%."
- “You’re absolutely correct. This is my debt. I will pay you the money as early as possible.”
- “Don’t call me. You ***********."
- “Well, Mr.XYZ is not at home. I’m his girlfriend."
- “I have taken out multiple loans from XYZ bank, and I owe $@#%&."
Golden rules while talking with debt collectors over phone
- Never get too emotional when you’re talking to a debt collector
- Never lose your temper when speaking with a debt collector
- Stay focused when you’re talking to a debt collector
- Don’t answer all the questions a debt collector asks you
- Take a little time and think if the SOL period has already crossed.
Never panic if you genuinely owe a debt. There are various of debt repayment options to help you. What you need to do is look at those options and find out which one is suitable for your wallet. If you’re still confused, then you can call us at our Toll-Free Number - 800-530-OVLG. Our financial coach will help you choose the best option and deal with debt collection calls as well.
What to do when you’re completely unprepared for a collection call
What should you do when you are not prepared for dealing with a collection call tactfully? You may receive a debt collection call all of a sudden. And, you have no clue about the debt. If the collector catches you off guard, then you won’t be able to negotiate a good deal with him. Moreover, if you get swayed by the collector’s well -articulated speech, then you may end up making a payment over the phone. Or, you may fail to control your temper and get into a serious argument with the collector. Both are not good for you.
If you receive a debt collection when you’re not prepared for it, then try to keep the conversation short and simple. Don’t make any promise as there are a few things you need to decide. For instance, the validity of the debt and payment plan. Most importantly, you have to decide if it makes sense to pay off this debt. So, you should take your time before making any commitment to the debt collector. Inform the collector that you’re busy and ask him to call you later. If you’re at work, then tell him that your employer doesn’t allow you to attend collection calls at the office. You can inform that you’ll negotiate with the creditor directly.
What are the 7 steps you should take to stop harassing collection calls?
Now when you know what the collection agencies can't do to collect money from you, you might be feeling somewhat relaxed. But what if a collection agency goes on harassing you despite knowing the FDCPA and debt collection laws? You need to find out ways to stop harassing collection calls to have peace of mind. Go through the following lines to know what you can do to stop collection agency harassment:
- Record all the collection calls, including the ones you make.
- Make a note of the time, date, name of the representative with whom you speak, what is being said, and the name of the collection agency.
- Try to get a witness to the harassment. This might be a family member, friend, or neighbor.
- Make use of an answer-phone so that you can screen the numbers from where you are getting calls.
- If the collection agency is not aware of your telephone number, then just dial 141 before making calls to them. This will help you keep back your number from them.
- Try to reach out to your telephone service provider and see if they can provide you with the privilege to bar specific phone numbers.
- If the collection agency makes every correspondence in writing, then keep copies of all those correspondence for future reference.
What are the possible ways to stop creditor harassment?
If any collection agency is calling you repetitively, you must be thinking of putting an end to those uninterrupted collection calls harassment. Below are some means that you could use against the collection agencies to stop the annoying bill collection harassment.
- Seek legal help: If the situation is worst and you have no clue about how to deal with the repetitive collection calls harassment, then you should immediately contact a consumer attorney and seek necessary legal help. A consumer attorney can advise you of the appropriate course of action. He can even talk to your creditors /collectors on your behalf and represent you in court.
- Settle your debts: A debt settlement with the collection agency can be a good solution to avoid creditor harassment. Approach a trustworthy debt settlement company and seek help from them. The company can help you settle your debts by paying much less than what you owe.
- Take the creditor to Small Claims Court: If you think that the collection agency is breaking the FDCPA laws or you don't owe the debt, you can sue the collection agency in the small claims court. Small claims court is a legal body, which resolves disputes for a small amount of money, usually less than $3000. Claims courts are less expensive and affordable for the consumers as getting help from a lawyer is not mandatory. However, since 2010, the costs of filing fees have increased in almost every state throughout the US.
- Send Cease & Desist letter: You can send a Cease and Desist letter to the collection agency and ask them to stop all communication with you regarding the debt. Also, tell the creditor/collector to not furnish any erroneous information on your credit report as it's illegal according to the FDCPA.
- Maintain phone communication log: Once you have sent a cease and desist letter to the creditor, he should stop all communications including phone calls. After this, you can maintain a phone communication log to fight any further creditor harassment. This phone communication log is intended to maintain the entire documentation of phone calls received. Below is given a sample phone communication log for your convenience.
Where should you report creditor harassment?
These days, you can easily report creditor or debt collectors harassment online. However, if you have evidence of the dates, times, and exactly what was said, victory can be yours. Below are the organizations with which you can file a complaint of creditor harassment.
- Federal Trade Commission - Online Complaint Form: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives thousands of complaints each day regarding abusive collection calls. Though it's not possible for them to investigate every single case, if you complain against a specific agency, then they will certainly take necessary action.
- State Attorney General: You can report creditor harassment to your state Attorney General's office. Visit the official website of your state Attorney General and make use of the online form to register your complaint.
- Better Business Bureau: Better Business Bureau (BBB) is the place where you can register a complaint against any business. If any collection agency is harassing you, then you can certainly register a grievance with them.
- The ACA: The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA) is a collection agency trade association. Even if the collection agency harassing you is not a member of the community, don't hesitate to file a complaint, as in the future they will think twice before enrolling them as a member.
- National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA): If you are being harassed, you can reach out to a consumer attorney for assistance. The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nationwide organization of more than 1,500 attorneys who represent thousands of consumers victimized by deceptive, abusive, and greedy business practices.