Today’s guest post comes from Phil Bradford. Phil dropped me a line about a guest post on debt collection calls and how to handle them. I do not know much about this topic personally. However, even with sound finance mistaken identity or identity theft could someday mean I end up on the other end of a debt collection call. Without further ado, take it away Phil..
Have you received your first call from a collection agency and worried about how to manage debt collection calls from now on?
Read on to know how you can deal with debt collection calls smartly.
What are your basic rights?
Under FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) there are some basic rights the debtors can enjoy.
A collection agency cannot:
- Call you at work if you’ve asked them not to do that
- Call before 8 am and after 9 pm
- Calling you repeatedly
- Claim to be an attorney
- Threaten to garnish your wages and seize property (in some states, garnishment is illegal)
- Threaten to file lawsuit unless they take legal action (third-party collection agencies can’t file lawsuit in some states)
Managing debt collection calls: Dos and don’ts
Check out these do’s and don’ts to manage your debt collection calls smartly.
- Inform you don’t owe the debt
If you’re not sure whether or not you owe the debt, ask the debt collector to validate it. They will prove that the debt actually belongs to you and they are assigned to collect it or they legally owe the debt.
You should inform the collector not to call before they validate and/or verify the debt.
- Give your current address
It may seem that if you change your phone number or don’t offer your current address, the collectors will stop harassing you. Instead, they will call your relatives and friends, even at your workplace, to seek your contact details.
So, it is better to provide your communication details to the collector.
As per debt collection laws, if the collector has your current communication details, it is illegal for them to contact your employer and friends.
- Inform if you can’t pay in full
If you can’t repay the amount, you can explain your financial situation to the debt collector and tell that you won’t be able to pay back dues. However, you can always negotiate to settle the amount if you can pay a certain percentage of the outstanding balance.
If you can’t pay and inform the collector, chances are higher that they may stop wasting time on you and communicate with other customers who can pay them. However, there are chances that the collector can file a lawsuit. But by informing, your file won’t be referred to litigation.
- Make yourself aware of what a debt collector can’t do
As per the FDCPA laws, a debt collector can’t use abusive language or use tactics to harass a debtor.
Always keep yourself updated with the debt collection laws and its changes so that it is easier for you to manage debt collection calls.
- Write to stop communication
If you feel, you can write a letter to the debt collector asking to stop contacting you. As per law, they are bound to do it. However, by doing so, the collector may file a lawsuit.
- Maintain records of every communication
Keep record of each and every communication you make, be it a phone call or a written communication.
If it’s a phone call, keep a note of the date and time along with the person you’ve spoken to. You can even record the call with the collector’s permission.
Keep a record of every written communication, whether you receive a letter or send it.
- Making payment before a written agreement
You may think that making a payment will stop the collection calls momentarily. But, it may go against you.
The SOL (Statute of Limitations) on the debt might have been over. But, making even a small payment will start the SOL period all over again.
The collector may also deny any payment you had made before the written agreement. So, even if the SOL period is not over, always have a written agreement before you start making any payments on the debt.
- Giving out personal information
While you should communicate your present address (as stated above), do not give these personal details to the collector:
- Your SSN (Social Security Number)
- Details of your bank accounts
- Information about your assets
- Losing temper
Even if the debt collector harasses you, do not ever lose your temper. It may go against you if you use abusive language.
What to do if a debt collector violates your rights
As already mentioned, one of the strategies to manage debt collection calls is to keep calm, even if the collector violates FDCPA laws.
Here’s what you can do:
- Inform the collector that he/she is violating FDCPA laws
- Send a certified letter stating to contact you by mail only
- Be prepared to record future phone calls (in some states, you may need to inform the collector before recording calls)
- Inform them that you can file a lawsuit
Repeating it again, keep records of every communication and keep it at least for 15 years.
It is advisable to make payment through paper checks to keep the additional record of every payment you are making. You can produce the documents if required in the future.
Author Bio: Phil Bradford has immense knowledge on how to tackle personal finance issues. He loves to help people solve their financial issues. Besides analyzing and writing personal finance articles, he loves to cook and travel to places.