Thanks to the gas crisis, the housing crisis, and constantly rising food costs, a lot of people are dealing with debt collectors on a daily basis.
If you’re looking for some debt collection help, including tips for dealing with debt collectors who are harassing you, I’ve got some advice. You see, I have been through all of this myself, so I know how to deal with recovering from debt and dealing with debt collectors.
Been there, done that!
What A Debt Collector Does
A debt collector’s job is to collect money for the people you owe. In other words, debt collectors provide debt collection services for companies trying to collect on past-due debts. There are also third-party collectors who buy old debts for pennies on the dollar.
You may get a call from a debt collector if you are late on your credit card payment, if you have not paid your mortgage or car payment, or if you have other loans or bills that are in default.
Debt collectors can be aggressive and even hostile in attempting to collect money you owe. They may even make threats to scare you into paying them before you pay your other obligations. Do not let them bully you.
Instead, know your rights. With the information below, you will learn how to deal with debt collectors and how to begin taking charge of past-due bills on your own terms, once and for all!
Your Rights As A Debtor
- A debt collector cannot contact family, friends, neighbors, or employers regarding your debts.
- A debt collector may not contact you late at night or too early in the morning (typically between 8 am and 9pm).
- A debt collector cannot call repeatedly.
- A debt collector must identify themselves.
- A debt collector may not make threats.
- A debt collector cannot use obscene or abusive language.
- A debt collector cannot claim you are breaking a law if you are not.
Learn more about your rights as a debtor by reading the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (.pdf)
What You Should Say To Debt Collectors
- Tell the debt collector that you will pay them as soon as you can… Period. If you don’t know when you can pay them, do not tell them you do. Instead, tell them you are working on it and will get back to them as soon as you can.
- You do not have to verify any personal information, or give them any reasons as to why you are having problems.
- After you’ve told them that you will get back to them, then hang up! You do not have to continue with a stressful conversation.
Dealing With Debt Collectors Who Are Too Pushy
If you have a debt collector who is getting out of control and harassing you, let them know that you are recording their calls, and that you do not want to be contacted by telephone. Tell them to send you written correspondence only. If they continue, let them know you can and will report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
If a debt collector is calling about an old debt, you need to take charge of the conversation. First, get proof that you owe the debt. Second, ask for that proof in writing. Do not make any payments before first being sure the debt is yours, and second making sure the debt has not passed the statute of limitations.
Here are some scripts you should use word-for-word when dealing with debt collectors who are trying to collect on old or fraudulent debts.
Here is some firsthand advice from someone who’s been through this before and has great tips for dealing with overzealous collection agencies.
How To Get Back In Control Of Your Past-Due Bills
#1 You will have bills that you need to pay or else you’ll lose your possessions. These are primarily bills for your home and vehicles.
#2 You will have bills that you must pay or services will be discontinued. These include electricity, car insurance, water, gas, and other necessities.
#3 You will have credit card bills and loans with no collateral where you won’t lose anything in the short term, except perhaps your reputation.
Let the bill collectors know that you will get around to them in order of importance.
Your home payment, of course, is the most important, followed by your home utilities, and then possibly your car — if you use it to get to work and take care of necessities. However, if you are having trouble paying the car loan, then you may want to sell your car (or downsize to a smaller, less expensive vehicle) or take public transportation.
After the housing and getting-to-work necessities are met, you need to pay for food for your family, and other necessary items like clothing.
Prioritize your spending based on need. You must have shelter, food, and utilities. However, the second car payment or boat
payment could be eliminated or downsized. Look for bills that can be reduced or eliminated like the cable bill, cell phones, and dining out.” Source
Believe it or not, “this too will end” and you will get past this period of pain and uncertainty — especially if you prioritize your debts and cut out extras until your current money situation improves.
When this happens, and it will, you can then concentrate on paying off those debts and getting rid of the debt collectors for good. Before you know it, you will be in good financial shape and saving for your future again.
I have been a certified tightwad since I became pregnant with my first child and decided to find a way to stay home with him. I enjoy sharing my experiences in my journey back to financial health and planning for a future — which will include sending 2 kids to college and early retirement.