When your phone starts ringing and debt collectors are on the other line, you know that you are in trouble. One of the things that make debt stressful are collection calls. This is the time when people are usually in a bad financial condition and they cannot afford to pay their debts anymore. You are burdened with guilt because you know that it is your responsibility to pay your dues. But despite this, you know that you are made helpless by certain situations that you failed to prepare for.
While you want to stop debt collectors from making your life miserable, shutting them out is not the solution. The worst that you can do is to ignore these calls because they will not stop. The debt collection industry is notorious for using less than favorable means to get consumers to pay their dues. Although you want to avoid them at all cost, there are certain rules that you can follow to help make these debt collectors behave – or at least, unsuccessful in making your life a living hell.
Who among the collectors of debt is most abusive
The key to deal with these collectors is to know who you are dealing with. There are three different debt collectors and you must understand them to avoid being abused by them.
The collectors from the credit card company. During the first 6 months since you first defaulted on your payments, you will be called upon by agents from your creditor’s collections department. These people still view you as a client and they are the best people to negotiate with.
Third party collectors hired by the creditor. Once your debt is charged off – which usually happens 180 days after you first defaulted, the creditor will transfer collection efforts to an agency. Although the creditor still owns the debt, the collections agency will be more aggressive in forcing you to pay your debts.
Debt buyers. These are the ones you should be very careful with. They are usually the debt collectors that people file a complaint against. When a debt goes past the statute of limitations, that means the consumer can no longer be sued for that debt. This is the type of credit that debt buyers will purchase from creditors at a very low price. Their goal is to try and trick consumers to acknowledge the debt or make a payment for it. Once an innocent consumer does this, they will start the clock again and they will no longer be protected by the statute of limitations. They can be sued for the debt again.
Ignoring any of these collectors will not really solve the situation for you. Here’s an important truth that you need to understand: you have legal rights when it comes to debt collectors. It is known as the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act or the FDCPA. You simply have to know this law so you will not be afraid of these collection calls. When you know your rights, they cannot fool you into paying for something that you can leave unpaid.
What to do when dealing with debt buyers
There are right ways to deal with debt collectors – especially the debt buyers. While they have the right to collect from you, it does not always mean you have to pay them. When your debt goes beyond the statute of limitations, you do not have to pay it back.
So when debt buyers call you, here are important reminders that can help your case.
Do not acknowledge the debt immediately. When the debt collector initiates the call and tells you about the debt they wish to collect from you, make sure that you do not acknowledge it. Listen to what they have to say and do not give out information about yourself.
Always ask for verification. Part of the FDCPA is your right to ask for verification for the debt that is being collected from you. Instead of giving your information, politely ask for the name of the debt collector, the name of the agency/company they are representing and their address. After the call, send them a letter requesting for verification regarding the debt that was called to you. Give the details of the call (e.g. who you talked to and when the call was made).
Get a copy of your credit report. Check your credit report to see if the debt being collected from you is yours. If there is an error in your report, file a dispute. If the debt is yours, check if it is already past the statute of limitations.
If the debt buyer sues you for the debt, you need to answer it. If it is past the statute of limitations, you can make that a part of your argument. This is the reason why you need to get the written verification from the debt collector. You can use that in case the credit problem is really taken to court.
Debt collectors can be quite abusive and you should not let yourself be harassed or threatened by them. In case things get out of hand, the FDCPA provides you with a platform where you can file a complaint against violators of these collection practices. You can go to the FTC.gov site or the ConsumerFinance.gov site to file your complaints against abusive debt collectors.
Remember that although the debt is clearly your own fault, that does not mean you should be abused for it. We do not advise that you ignore these collection calls but you have to take the initiative to know how to protect yourself.