Being in debt is horrible enough for most people. Having collectors calling constantly adds to that stress. If you are a victim of collection harassment, you know the sensation of feeling uncomfortable whenever the phone rings – knowing that it could ring at all hours of the day. Most people are simply going to endure collection harassment, assuming that they have no other legal alternatives or prevention that would help them against harassment. However, this is not the case.
The first thing that you have to do is realize that this is not going to go away on its own – ignoring the issue is not going to help. If the debt has already been turned over, the collection agencies have dozens of people who do nothing but make phone calls all day. The calls are not “just going to stop”. With these five tips, you are going to be able to stop collection harassment and become more aware of what your rights are.
Prepare yourself – know your rights
Countless people complain about all different types of collection harassment. The truth is that most people begin to feel uncomfortable answering the phone, this is the first thing that you need to change. You need to adopt the attitude: “I am not going to be bullied by this debt collector!” Instead of assuming otherwise, adopt the notion that collectors will not be polite and they are not going to be inclined to work with you – but that does not mean that you are under their control. Do not lose your temper if the person calling you is impolite.
Secondly, you have to know your rights. Collectors are not allowed to do certain things when it comes to collecting your debt. For example, unless you have given them permission, they cannot call you before 8 am or after 9 pm. You can set boundaries when you first talk to them on the phone. Make it clear to them that they cannot contact your employer or your family. Finally, you can tell them that they must cease all contact with you if you do not want to be called. Make sure that you follow up with a certified letter. That way, you have proof that you gave the creditors that specific information. Federal law requires that notice to be in writing to have full legal effect.
It is illegal for debt collectors to do the following under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act:
- Engage in deceptive conduct
- Call you repeatedly
- Call you at work if you have asked them not to call you there
- Call you late at night or at unreasonable hours
- Contact your family, friends, neighbors or employer about your debt (they CAN contact them to locate you, but they cannot mention that you have debt)
- Publish your name
- Threaten a loss of welfare benefits, child custody, or arrest
- Use insulting, derogatory, or obscene remarks
- Call without disclosing the identity of the collector in question
- Threaten self-help repossession when it is not authorized by law
- Contact you when you are already represented by an attorney after you have directed the collector to call your lawyer
Remember that it is within your rights to sue a company for damages if they violate any of those laws. This is why it is important to know what your rights are.
Make sure that the debt is proven
Oftentimes you just assume that if someone is calling you about debt, they MUST be right. The truth is that until you have a notice and proof of the debt, you should not be paying anything. If the company that is calling you cannot provide documentation A.) That you owe the debt and B.) This company owns your specific debt, or is collecting on behalf of the owner, you should ask them to stop contacting you about the debt.
Even if you know that you owe money, you want to make sure that this creditor proves it to you. This requirement is in place to protect you from fraud or other issues. A third party company may sometimes buy the debt, but they might never have the proof of the original debt. This could work in your favor.
Be upfront about your situation
If you have debt and are unable to pay it back at that time, make sure that you tell creditors and debt collectors the truth. This is not to suggest that creditors are simply going to ignore you altogether or let you off the hook, but it could bide you some time if you know that you will have the money eventually. Let your collectors know why you are unable to pay at this time (hospitalization, loss of a job, other major expenses etc.) and let them know when you estimate that you will be able to pay for something. This could prevent these incessant phone calls from happening.
Work out a deal
If you want to resolve the situation after the debt is proven, you have to remember that not all creditors and debt collectors are going to be impossible to work with – some might be willing to work with you. Perhaps you can do smaller payments if you do a larger upfront lump sum. Perhaps paying only a percentage of the total amount would suffice. For example, if you owe $ 2,000.00, a creditor may agree to settle your debt for $ 1,000.00 if you can make this payment right away. Especially if you are dealing with a third party, chances are that they bought the debt for much less than it is actually worth, and they can still make a profit if they are able to settle with you.
Seek legal help
If you feel you are the victim of debt collection harassment, it is probably time to seek legal representation to make sure that these collectors are not bothering you any further. If you have no real alternative on how to deal with continued collection calls harassment, it is a good idea to contact an attorney and get someone who can uphold the law for you. By simply contacting a lawyer, you are able to have someone else talk to your creditors /collectors and represent you in court if needed.
This is merely to show you that you have alternatives when it comes to creditor and debt collection harassment. By following these tips, chances are that you will have at least fewer coming your way in the immediate future. Do not allow collection harassment to take over your life, but take action instead.