Getting calls from collection agencies can feel overwhelming and stressful. It might not seem like you have a say at the time, but you have some say in how conversations with debt collectors are handled.
Let’s explore your rights. From there, we can look into terms or phrases you can avoid saying to collection agencies as you work to settle your debt and reduce your stress levels.
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Should I answer debt collector calls?
Ignoring a debt collector’s call can feel like an ideal option when you want to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Still, ignoring them can result in more extensive issues in the end. For instance, there could be negative impacts on your credit score and a missed opportunity to gain clarification on the debt in question.
What happens if you don’t answer calls from debt collectors
If you don’t answer calls from debt collectors, your credit could take a hit. Your debt could be written off with the assumption that you won’t pay it, causing a large drop in your credit score, which can be stressful.
Additionally, not answering calls from debt collectors could affect the amount of money you originally owed. Additional fees can accrue in the amount of time it takes for the debt collectors to find you, resulting in you owing even more money.
You could also be sued by the debt collection companies, resulting in additional fees. Your best bet is not to attempt to ignore calls from debt collectors because doing so can result in more stressors than you started with.
How to deal with a collection agency
Ignoring a collection agency is not ideal, but there are ways to deal with them that can be less stressful for you. Here are examples of ways to speak with collection agencies that will work in your favor.
Keep a record
Keep a record of who is calling you, when they call and which debt they are contacting you about. If you can, use a notes app on your phone or a pen and paper to keep track of everything.
Try to make notes during the call to keep the information fresh in your mind. A record will be helpful in general but especially if the debt collector breaks any laws or coerces you in any way.
Verify the debt
To protect yourself from fraud, verify that the information you’re being told is correct and that the caller is legitimate before making a payment or even admitting to the debt. Check that the business they are calling from is legitimate, too. You can do this by completing a quick internet search before giving them any information.
Know your rights
Even if you owe a debt, you still have rights. Debt collectors cannot legally threaten you with violence or promise to get rid of your debt for you. Also, in most cases, they can’t communicate with others about your debt.
For example, they can contact your employer, but all they are allowed to do is verify your employment. Debt collectors are not allowed to harass you or others.
The Fair Debt Collections Act covers the established guidelines for what debt collectors can and cannot do. Review the act so you can be aware of what is allowed. Make sure you are mindful of laws specific to your state as well, as the laws can vary.
Don’t be afraid to hang up
If you find that you are not ready or not prepared to talk to a debt collector, it is okay to end the call. You can tell them to call you at a different time, specify a callback time or request more information. These are all acceptable responses, among a number of other replies.
What should you not say to a debt collector?
You should also consider what you should not say to a debt collector, not just because the collector could be illegitimate but also to protect yourself. Here are a few things to avoid saying when talking to a debt collector.
Do not admit to the debt
It may sound confusing, but do not admit to owing debt to the debt collector. This admission of guilt could restart the statute of limitations regarding your debt.
Don’t make promises
Even if you know you will have the funds next week, try to refrain from making a promise that you will pay at a certain point in time. Making promises to pay could also restart the statute of limitations on your debt and be interpreted as a separate contract.
Do not share your income or other debts
Whether you feel compelled to share your income level or the debt collector inquires about how much money you make per year, do not share information about your income or other debts that you owe. Any financial information that is relevant to the debt can be found on your credit reports. Any additional information you provide could be used against you to collect or garnish your wages or add a lien to your property.
Don’t make a good-faith payment
You might be asked to make a small payment in good faith to show that you will pay back your debt. Though your intentions might be pure, this can ultimately restart your limitations period, which can be detrimental to you. Every new payment could restart your limitations period, and it is important to be mindful of this when making payments.
Don’t lose your cool
Owing a debt and receiving calls from debt collectors can be stressful, but stay calm. Losing your cool on a recorded call can be used against you in court.
It’s best to avoid using profanity or getting hostile with debt collectors. Keep this in mind if you receive a call from a debt collector and you feel you are not in a headspace where you can remain calm in the moment.
Debt collectors vs scammers
It is important to ensure you are talking to a debt collector and not a scammer. Scammers will likely be more apt to threaten you with consequences, like jail time, or pressure you to make payments.
They might also withhold information from you. Debt collectors are aware of the guidelines established by the Fair Debt Collections Act and they know that they must act accordingly. Familiarizing yourself with the guidelines can help you recognize if the language being used by someone claiming to be a debt collector is legitimate or not.
Remain calm if you interact with debt collectors
Owing money can be stressful, and having a debt collector call can add unwanted pressure to the situation. But odds are, you already know your account is past due, and the constant reminder doesn’t help.
The key is to remain calm when talking to debt collectors. Keeping relaxed and patient mentally can help you get the information you need when speaking with a debt collector. Staying calm can even assist you when it comes to recognizing the signs that the caller is not legitimate.
Also, consider reviewing the Fair Debt Collections Act. It can help you understand what debt collectors can and cannot do when contacting you, which should provide you with some peace of mind.
How many times per day can a collection agency call you?
There is no limit as to how many times a collection agency can call you per day, but they will typically not call you during unreasonable hours.
Can debt collectors call you if you are on the Do Not Call list?
Debt collectors can still call you if you are on the Do Not Call list.
Should I call a debt collector back?
If you can verify the debt collector, it is okay to call them back or get your information together so that you can be prepared for the next time they call.