Debt collection is a highly regulated affair. Debt collection agencies not only have to obey all federal laws related to debt collection consumer rights, but they also have to obey state laws that touch upon the matter. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is one of the federal acts that debt collectors must follow.
While it may be true that most reputable debt collection agencies obey federal and state debt regulations, it is also true that some agencies could not care less about the debtor’s rights. This is because collection agencies get a percentage of the past due amounts that they collect; the sooner that the debtor pays, the sooner that the collection agency gets paid.
Therefore, many collection agencies are eager to get a payout. Since the collections process can be lengthy, unscrupulous tactics may be used.
The best advice to indebted consumers with past due debt is to advise them to openly and freely discuss their financial situation with the creditor. Often times, the creditor will understand financial hardships and will allow the debtor time to repay. Other times, creditors might be willing to offer temporary reductions in monthly payments. Dealing with creditors can be much easier as compared to having to face a collections agency.
Failing to read mail and avoiding phone calls will only make matters worse.
With that said, collection agencies still have to obey the rules of collections, even if the debtor is hard to communicate with. In that vein, what should a consumer do when being harassed by a debt collector?
Here are 10 important tips on how to handle a harassing collection agency:
- Stop ignoring the calls and the mailings! Read the correspondence and listen to the phone calls. Make sure that you are being told the name of the company that is calling you. Demand that you are told the amount you owe. Ask the name and address of the original creditor that is alleging you owe money.
- Be mindful that the amount you are being asked to pay might be incorrect. Looking through your own records or contacting the original creditor may reveal that you owe a much lesser amount.
- You have a right to know the information listed above. In fact, consumers have many rights. Consumers with accounts in collection should educate themselves on those rights. Contact the Federal Trade Commission; they have valuable resources about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Report illegal tactics to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Attorney General in the state in which you reside.
- Keep copies of all correspondence sent to you from the collection agency and keep copies of the correspondence you send to them. This will document the communication chain and mark dates for compliance purposes. Also, keep a log of all the phones calls.
- If the collection agency has called your friends and or family, inquire with those friends and family members as to what they were told. Collection agencies may be able to call those people to find out your whereabouts, but they cannot disclose any personal information about you and your debt. Keep a record of everything you are told.
- In regard to phone calls, be wary of them. You do not know who is really on the other line. Never give out you social security number or account numbers over the phone. Ask for written correspondence.
- Remember that cooler heads always prevail. If the tone of the collection agency’s tactics become more aggressive or hostile, the situation will only get worse if you become abusive.
- Negotiating a payment schedule is fine, but make sure that you can pay what you agree to pay. Get the agreement in writing before committing to the arrangement.
- If you are at your end point mentally and financially, and the calls will not stop, tell the collection agency to stop calling.
- Lastly, contact an experienced debt collection harassment attorney and credit counseling agency for help.
If you or anyone you know has been subjected to an abusive, deceptive, or unfair debt collection effort by any business or firm, contact the Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center for a FREE evaluation to learn how you can protect your rights and get your attorneys’ fees paid.