Numerous people are under considerable stress because of unjust debt collection practices. Heaping harassment frequently leaves borrowers feeling defeated and without adequate energy to seek a course of action to end the debt collection activities or seek justice against the perpetrators. You have rights and remedies as a victim of such practices. If you’re experiencing unfair intimidation, you can take these steps to stop collection agencies from contacting you.
1. Recognize Your Rights
Familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the prohibited acts, and to whom it applies. You can access information about related practices on the sites for Federal Trade Commission, the attorney general’s office in numerous states, and even the sites for private attorneys who represent borrowers in unfair actions. You should know that it’s possible to negotiate with creditors and settle debts.
2. Act deliberately and calmly
When dealing with debt collectors, know that money is extremely motivating and debt collectors are frequently commission-based. Therefore, the more they can get out of you, the more cash they can put in their pockets.
As you examine the list of forbidden acts, it might be tempting to think of unscrupulous collectors as bullies. They frequently are. Intimidation can be an efficient practice, particularly when the borrower doesn’t understand his rights.
When dealing with collectors via the phone, don’t strike back. As difficult as it might be, maintain an even demeanor. Take in what they say but don’t make promises you can’t keep. Just be honest and don’t try to threaten them. You won’t win.
If you maintain a cool head, the collector can’t return and claim that he was merely trying to defend himself. Presume that every communiqué is recorded. The more he gets worked up, the worse it makes him look, particularly if you aren’t giving him tit for tat. Meanwhile, you should make an effort to repair credit, which might come in handy.
3. Maintain Records
For the most part, collectors use the phone and postal mail to contact borrowers although more are turning to text messages and email. Mail documents are crucial for evidence, so maintain all correspondence, statements, and account documentation. When you communicate with the collector, obtain the collector’s name, and the company in which you work. The notes will be very useful if you need to make a complaint or file a lawsuit against the collection agency. The collection agency records almost every collection you obtain. However, some go to the extent of recording their conversations with their collectors. Under federal law and in numerous states, it’s legal to record a conversation without attaining the permission of the other parties in the call. This is one-party consent law. In some states, it’s illegal and the recordings would be of restricted use to you. As a result, you could land in trouble for recording the conversation secretly.
4. Seek Debt Verification
Once you’ve been contacted, the collector has five days from the first contact to give you certain information regarding the debt. The communication, typically in writing, must inform you of the debt amount, the creditor’s name, and that you have a month to dispute the validity of the debt.
5. Inform the creditor to stop contact
You have the right to ask the collector to stop contacting you. Nevertheless, there’s an appropriate way of doing it and you must understand the effect of your demand as well as the outcomes to expect.
Bear in mind that the lack of communication with the collection agency doesn’t imply it has given up. The collector will simply turn the account over to an attorney for a lawsuit. This is probably the bigger account. A law firm with the account should contact you with any papers they file. However, the collector and lawyer aren’t obligated to warn you that they’re sending the account for legal proceedings.
If it’s important for you to enjoy the respite, send the collector a written letter demanding the agency to desist from additional communication with you, your employer, or relatives. It’s not sufficient to tell the creditor over the phone to stop contacting you. Send the letter via certified mail such that the recipient must sign for it. This way, if the agency maintains contact, each instance is a breach of the FDCPA. Once the agency obtains a letter demanding that they stop communicating, they’re under an obligation to stop communication with these exceptions:
- The collector may inform you that they’re stopping communication
- They collector might send a letter informing you that they’re sending the account to a lawyer to initiate legal proceedings.
Things Collectors Cannot Do
Come to your place of work
It’s unlawful for a collector to come to your place of work to collect payment. The act forbids publicizing of debts. However, they might contact you at work though they cannot reveal they’re debt collectors. To end these calls, request the collector to stop contacting you at work.
You can’t face arrest for a debt. However, if you face a lawsuit over debt and you don’t show up in court, you might lose by default, compelling you to pay. If you defy the court order, the agency might pursue an arrest warrant.
Contact you whenever they wish
Debt collectors cannot contact you before 8a.m. and after 9p.m. You could request the collector to stop writing or calling in pursuit of debt payment. Nevertheless, the debt remains.
Pursue you for debt that isn’t yours
Inaccuracies are common in this industry. Therefore, inaccurate or incomplete information could drive a collector to pursue you wrongly. While this isn’t common, it’s illegal. If you doubt some debt, begin by examining your report. It’s also an opportunity to fix your fico score quickly if necessary.
Calls from debt collection agencies can be intimidating and overwhelming. However, understanding your rights can alleviate your anxiety. More importantly, knowing what to say and do when a collector calls will help you avoid an error that could place you at a financial or legal risk. To avoid such calls altogether, make an effort to get out of debt. If you need more help, we’ve got your back. Click here to learn more!
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