It’s never easy to have to deal with debt collectors, especially if they become aggressive and pushy. You need to keep calm and remember the following 5 tips to know how to protect yourself.
You should never give in to the threats of a debt collector. When you respond emotionally you’re more likely to say something that will come back to bite you. Remember that when you talk on the phone they will be recording the conversation. You can speak with conviction without being rude about it. If you feel that the call isn’t going well then you can request that they call you back at a later time.
Remember The Law Is Protecting You
The good news is there are laws in place that prevent debt collectors from going too far and harassing you. The Far Debt Collection Practices Act provides guidelines that debt collectors have to follow when dealing with consumers. Here are the important details:
Debt collectors may not:
- Contact you before 8AM and after 9PM
- Annoy you intentionally to provoke a reaction
- Continue communication after you’ve sent a written request to end contact with them unless they need to communicate a new development such as pending litigation or terminating your account
- Call you directly at work if they’ve been told by your employer they can’t
- Use abusive language or threaten you with legal action that they can’t or won’t act on
If the debt collect makes you feel uncomfortable or is being abusive then you should record the conversations yourself and submit a complaint with all the details to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Find Out What The Statute Of Limitations Are For Your State
These debt collectors are after your money so they won’t bother to tell you that there is a statute of limitations on debt and that different states have different statutes of limitation.
After a certain amount of time (the statute of limitations) passes then the debt collector is unable to take you to court for the unpaid debt. You should always be wary when a debt collector threatens to take you to court anyway.
If you know the statute of limitations has passed but the debt collectors continue to call you then send them a cease and desist letter. If they do not honor your request and continue to call you then they are breaching the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Receive Proof Of The Debt Before Paying It
It’s important you ask the debt collector for a debt verification letter. This letter tells you both how old the debt is and if it’s still legitimate. You should never acknowledge a debt over the phone without first checking how old it is and if it is legitimate.
Making payments on a debt makes it harder to dispute in court, even if it’s illegitimate. To make matters worse paying an old debt could cause the statute of limitations to restart; making it legitimate again.
Get Everything In Writing
You need to keep a written account of every phone conversation you have with a debt collector. You also need to get any payment arrangements or settlements in writing too.
These agreements should include a confirmation that if you do what the agreement says then the debt is completely satisfied. If you need to make a court appearance in relation to your debt then you need as much evidence as you can get that’s in your favor.
Debt collectors are well trained at making you feel like they are the ones in control but you still have plenty of options. Having an understanding of your rights and staying cool and collected during any collection call puts you in a good position.