Debt collectors call when you have an unpaid debt. These agencies purchase past-due debts from businesses and creditors and attempt to get you to repay the debt. And while debt collection calls can be frightening and stressful, knowing what to do or say can help avoid mistakes that can prove legally and financially costly. Be sure to remember the following tips for handling a debt collection call.
Understand Debt Collection Laws
Collectors who often violate the law plague the debt collection industry. Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission ensures that all collectors follow debt collection laws under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The act presents various rules and regulations that debt collectors must adhere to, including:
- They cannot call you outside the hours of 8.00 am and 9.00 pm from Monday to Saturday
- They cannot lie to you or harass you with threats of violence, wage garnishment, jail time, or property liens
- They cannot discuss your personal or debt information with third parties
- They cannot claim false information or false debts on your reports
It’s worth noting that original creditors or businesses you owe money to aren’t bound to FDCPA laws. However, local and state laws are sometimes similar to FDCPA regulations, hence the importance of understanding debt collection laws.
The debt collector will take notes during the phone call, and you should do the same. The notes will be helpful if you ever need to recall the conversation or find yourself in court.
Some basic information you should note down during debt collection calls includes:
- The name of the person calling you
- Date and time of the call
- Name and address of the collection agency
- What you discussed
- And any requests made
Ask the Collector to Send Information Regarding the Debt
Legitimate debt collectors like Real time resolutions are legally required to mail you a letter detailing the outstanding debt. Without admitting that the debt is yours, ask for a verification letter in writing. The validation letter does more than confirm the debt you owe or don’t owe. It helps validate the age of the debt and that the debt collector has the right to collect the debt.
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The debt validation letter must include:
- A written agreement with your signature
- Documentation proofing that you agreed to the debt
- Information from the original creditor
Don’t Admit to the Debt
You must avoid admitting that you owe a debt during debt collection calls. Doing so would mean giving up some of your legal rights. Collection agencies sometimes make mistakes, and as such, it’s best to wait until you get a debt validation letter. You want to confirm that the debt is the correct amount and belongs to you before proceeding.
Don’t Give Information About Your Income, Bills, or Other Debts
It’s easy to get information regarding your income, bills, and other debts from your credit report, and some debt creditors might use it against you. They may say something like, “You are employed with ABC company.
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Surely you can afford to pay this debt.” Or “I see you are currently on all credit card payments, so why not make a payment on this?”
Any information you provide over the phone regarding your income or other bills will be used to collect the debt. It’s best to avoid discussing your financial strengths if you aren’t ready to pay the debt.
Don’t Make a Payment of Good Faith
A debt collector will often ask that you make a minimum payment as a sign of good faith. This payment won’t keep the debt collector from suing you, and it’s not good for your credit score either. It will only extend the statute of limitation, which starts from the last payment date. No matter how minimal, each payment can restart the statute of limitations of the period and give the collector a renewed ability to sue you.
The most important rule of handling debt collection calls is to understand your legal rights. Don’t ignore these calls, and always ensure that you get as much information as possible. Request a debt validation letter in writing and avoid giving personal information over the phone, as doing so might expose you to a longer statute of limitations or a scam.