There’s no question that debt collectors are intimidating—they are paid to be intimidating, and are intent on pressuring consumers to pay up. Debt collectors may be independent agencies who purchased a note from a merchant or may be merchants calling on their own. Some debt collectors can become downright hostile in their tone of voice, in their nasty choice of words, and perhaps even in their legal threats. There is a practical way to go about dealing with hostile debt collectors. It doesn’t involve giving them exactly what they want, but finding a reasonable compromise that both parties can accept. Consider four ways to work with debt collectors:
Debt collectors want you to do two things: first, to prove who they suspect you are, and second to pay the debt you supposedly owe. If you speak to a debtor on the phone be careful not to admit to having any debts—especially if you don’t remember what debt is being attributed to you. You do have the right to request a letter explaining the bill, if you have any doubts as to the legitimacy of the debt. Furthermore, you can request a debt validation, which is documented proof that you owe a specific debt to a certain company. If the debt collection company cannot send you any proof of debt, you do not have to legally pay it. On the other hand, off-handedly admitting to a debt will actually make you responsible for that debt. This is no doubt why most consumers try to avoid talking to debt collectors on the phone.
If you do speak to a debt collection agency on the phone then always get the name of the company the individual is representing. You research the name online or ask for further information about the company and their practices. Remember that not everyone that calls you up citing a debt is a legitimate company. Furthermore, not every bill collector that calls you is necessarily working for the company you are in debt to. Do not be pressured into a scam.
You may be obligated to pay your legitimate debts, but you are not obligated to put up with abuse. The Federal Trade Commission states that all consumers must be treated fairly by debt collectors. No debt collection agency has the right to harass a debtor, call him or her at work, make threats of any kind, call after hours, or continue to call after the individual has requested to be left alone. Look up more information on the FTC and find out what options you have for debt collectors who will not relent.
After you request the debt collecting company leave you alone, you can write a Cease and Desist letter in a final attempt to make the company understand. This is an official letter making it clear that you want the company to stop harassing you. You can either fax a copy of the letter (keeping one yourself) or send it by certified mail. Even if you have a delinquent account you do not deserve harassment and can take legal action to make debt collectors to stop harassing you.
For more help on dealing with hostile debt collectors look up information online or contact a bankruptcy lawyer for help.