What to say to debt collectors on the phone

Fair debt collection practicesThere are many rights provided by the federal government regarding your debts and credit history. Many states provide additional rights also.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act specifics how collection agencies behave toward debtors. The FDCP Act applies not just for collection agencies, but to debt collectors as well.

The law specifies that debt collectors may not contact you at unusual or inconvenient times; which means before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. or at work if you are not permitted to accept such calls there.

Collection agents may not call you repeatedly or call you without identifying themselves. They may not call you collect or make you responsible for any costs of the phone call. They are not permitted to identify themselves as law enforcement or as attorneys. They cannot harass, oppress, or abuse you. They may not use or threaten to use violence or harm toward you or anyone else and they may not threaten to damage anyone's reputation. They cannot threaten to garnish your wages or sue you unless they actually intend to do so. They cannot threaten you with arrest or jail. If you have an attorney, they must speak with your attorney and not to you directly unless you give permission.



Obscene language is not permitted. Your name may not be published on a deadbeat listing. If you're contacted by a debt collector, you can tell him or her not to phone you again. Debt collectors are required to comply with this request and can only communicate with you by mail regarding the status of the delinquent account, such as when it is being sent to a lawyer for a lawsuit.

It's important get the debt collector's name, the name of the agency, business address, and phone number whenever you speak to a debt collector. Carefully document all contact, including dates, times, and the subject of the conversations. Contact your state attorney general if you believe you are being treated in a manner that violates the law or if you’re no contact request for is being ignored. State your complaint in a letter to the collection agency. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter and send the complaint letter with a signature necessary for delivery.

It is illegal for collectors to lie about the amount you owe and they cannot threaten to take action against you that they do not intend to take. No outrageous or unfair attempts to collect the money are permitted by the law. This can include adding interest costs or fees which are not part of the original debt. The collector cannot ask for a postdated check by threatening you with criminal action, or accepting a check that is more than five days postdated unless they notify you three to ten days before cashing it. They may not deposit a postdated check before the date
on it.

If you tell a collection agency not to contact you again, it must comply, unless it is giving you notice of plans to sue or to stop collection attempts.

Anytime you are sent correspondence from a debt collector, it should not resemble court papers or correspondence from a government agency. It may not seem like it is from an attorney. The envelope containing the correspondence must be a plain envelope and may not state anywhere on it that it is in reference to a debt collection or that it was sent from a collection agency.

At all times, debt collectors are required to give their names when contacting other people and state that they are verifying or correcting the residence or employment information about you. If asked, they can give the name of the agency they work for. They are prohibited about speaking about you owing a debt and may not call anyone more than once, unless they received incorrect or incomplete information the first time.

Your Remedy

You can take action against a creditor violates any provision of the law. Make sure that you keep detailed records and keep all information of the violation. If at all possible, you should have a witness who saw or heard the improper act. In some states, you can record phone conversations without permission; although, in the majority of states you must have permission from the person you are recording.

Send a letter to the original creditor and your state's attorney general detailing the violation. You should also send a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. It may be possible to get the entire debt canceled due to a violation.

How to Deal with Collection Agencies

You must remember that you are dealing with a professional debt collector. Do not let the debt collector talk you into paying more than you can afford. Keep in mind that the agent may act friendly and appear as if he or she is helping you. The agents are very skilled at talking people into paying as much as possible. The more they collect, the more they earn. They are persistent and persuasive. And remember, you can always tell them not to call you anymore.

Collection Agencies  Tips

If you decide to work out a payment arrangement with the collection agency, get everything in writing before paying.

Do not get emotional or caught up in the situation. Treat the call as a business call.
You should not give any other phone numbers or tell the collection agency how they can reach you.

Direct collection agents cannot call you anymore if you do not wish to accept their calls.
If you choose to take their phone calls, keep a record of all the calls.
Try to negotiate a settlement if possible

No matter how friendly and understanding the person on the phone sounds, remember that he or she is doing a job and just wants to get money from you.