- Stop Debt Collection Calls
- How to Stop Debt Collectors’ Calls
- Verifying the Debt is Yours
- How to Handle Valid Debt
- Stop Debt Collectors From Calling at Work
- What Not to Do or Say on a Collection Call
- Using a DMP To Stop Debt Collection Calls
- Settling with Third-Party Collection Agencies
- Identifying Harassment
Stop Debt Collection Calls
While stopping collection calls can be a difficult process, requiring a keen eye for detail, the ability to precisely follow instructions, and decisive action, you can most definitely stop collection calls yourself. Alternatively, another option is to hire a professional to stop debt collector calls for you.
Whichever way you decide to go about stopping debt collectors from calling, you’ll find that the FDCPA, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, is on your side. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot make repetitious phone calls with the intent to annoy or harass. The FDCPA also has provisions that detail how to get bill collectors to stop calling you at home and at work.
To stop debt collectors’ harassment, you’re going to have to follow a step-by-step process. Your first step should be to validate the debt; take care to review the debt’s statute of limitations and not to reset it. Second, be sure to note the collector’s details, such as name, address, and contact number. Third, make clear to the debt collector in writing your situation and circumstances, along with your communication preferences.
We’ll get into each of these parts of the process shortly. If ever you feel overwhelmed by the process, you can always contact an agency for credit counseling services to enroll in a debt management program.
How to Stop Debt Collectors’ Calls
Aggressive debt collectors are a dime a dozen; one out of every ten Americans has debt subject to collection. Debt collectors frequently resort to excessive phone calling, incessantly sending letters, and even making threats to coerce payments.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), debt collectors are the largest and most significant source of monthly consumer complaints. In a single year, the CFPB typically tallies up to 200,000 debt collector related complaints. Of these complaints, the CFPB reports that 65% were from people that did not owe the debt they were being called for, and a further 27% complained of receiving a collector’s call for a debt that had already been paid.
With that said, you’re going to want to be careful with what you say when dealing with debt collectors. Here are some helpful suggestions for when you next speak with a debt collector.
Verifying the Debt is Yours
For something that’s the cause of so much stress and so many sleepless nights, the debt-collection industry is alarmingly prone to confusion-causing errors. Debt collectors will frequently mix up debts owed by people with similar names, addresses, and birthdates.
Unfortunately, when most mixups like these occur, it falls to the consumer to reach out to debt collectors to sort things out. Here are a few things for you to keep in mind the next time you’re called about any debt:
- Always ask for evidence for any debt. Even if you think the debt is really yours, don’t acknowledge the debt without first demanding evidence for each and every debt.
- Ask the debt collector for details on the original creditor of the debt, the specifics of when and how the debt was incurred, and for the balance of the debt. Make it clear to the debt collector that balance should include a breakdown of interest and any other fees.
- Secure and note down the debt collector’s details: name, address, telephone number.
- Ask that you be contacted in writing only. You can ask further that the debt collector stop contacting you entirely; this should be done in writing, and it’s what’s called a “drop-dead letter.” The FDCPA requires debt collectors to comply with drop-dead letters, and you can find sample letters on the CFPB website.
- Request written validation of the debt in question from the creditor of the debt. Creditors are required to send this within five (5) days.
- Upon receiving the aforementioned written validation, you will have thirty (30) days to dispute the debt and its accuracy. If, after the 30 days has elapsed, you’re unable to present a valid ground for challenging the debt, the collector then has the right to conclude that the debt is valid.
At this point, you’ll have either proven the debt isn’t yours or had it concluded that it is. If the debt is definitely your own, check the statute of limitations on it to be certain that the collectors claim on it is actually within the timeframe provided. The time limits provided for by the statute of limitations differ for different kinds of debt, and also from state to state, but in most cases and in most states, collection claims can only be made from up to between three and six years from the date the debt was incurred.
After enough time has passed for the statute of limitations on a debt to have elapsed, creditors and collectors can no longer secure court judgments against you. This isn’t to say that you’ll no longer owe debt whose time limits have elapsed; you definitely still owe those debts. What this means is that your collectors can’t call you to court and force you to pay that debt, unless you fail to be present for your court appearance, in which case your collectors will win by default.
How to Handle Valid Debt
Just because a debt has proven valid doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw in the towel. Not communicating will do nothing to solve your debt, and failing to communicate may even lead to legal trouble.
At this point, you need to be open and honest with your debt collector about your circumstances. Give them an idea of your situation; detail any emergency expenses that might be the cause for your financial troubles. If you’ve been laid off and are having trouble finding new work, be sure to let them know about that too. Be proactive, and work with your collectors to find a solution to pay off your debt.
Make it clear that you want to negotiate the terms of your debt. Many creditors will be willing to work with you to come to an amicable solution. The sooner you can open negotiations, the better.
For debts where you’re so far behind on your payments that you’re being contacted by third-party debt collectors, you might find you’ve got more leverage going into negotiations. Many third-party collectors would be willing to negotiate for a fraction of the original debt if it means they can make good on their investment.
Stop Debt Collectors From Calling at Work
When your phone is ringing all the time from debt collection calls, that’s bad. When the calls start coming in where you work, that’s really bad.
Know your rights; you have a right to not be contacted by debt collectors at your workplace if those debt collectors have a “reason to know” such calls are forbidden. To cover your bases, you’ll want to notify your debt collector, in writing, that collection calls are forbidden at your workplace. Simple as that.
Once they’ve received your notice, they’ll be prohibited from making any further collection calls to your workplace in the future. If a debt collector continues to call you at work after receiving written notice from you that such calls are prohibited, you can have them fined, and even take them to court for civil damages.
Now, there is an exception to this rule; the original creditors of the debt can still contact you at work, as by law they are not considered as debt collectors.
Nonetheless, if you’re being called at work by the original creditor of a debt, that creditor is prohibited from discussing or even mentioning your debt with anyone else.
What Not to Do or Say on a Collection Call
When speaking to a debt collector over the phone, saying certain things and making certain actions can reset the statute of limitations on a debt, or even validate the debt outright. Take care, when corresponding with debt collectors, to make sure not to do any of the following:
- Don’t make any payments on an unvalidated debt. You may have trouble getting your money back should the debt prove invalid. Making payments on unvalidated debts will also reset the statute of limitations on it, opening you up to being taken to court and having a judgment rendered against you.
- Never agree to a debt outright. Always ask for written validation of the debt before acknowledging it. You’ll have a far more difficult time disputing a debt after you’ve agreed to it.
- Be courteous. When talking to a debt collector, your call is most probably being recorded. If the debt ever goes to court, you won’t want to come off the wrong way when the recording is presented.
Using a DMP To Stop Debt Collection Calls
A debt management plan, or DMP, is one of the best ways you can get debt collectors to leave you alone. This is because, with a DMP, you are designating an experienced professional to serve as a liaison between you and your creditors. Doing so serves to demonstrate to creditors that action is being taken by you and on your behalf to repay the debt, and so they need not call.
When it comes to setting up a Debt Management Plan, the most important decision is choosing a credit counseling agency that’s right for you.
Debt management companies and credit counseling agencies like DebtQuest USA work with your creditors on your behalf to negotiate for lower monthly payments, lower interest rates. Apart from that, DebtQuest USA can work with your creditors to reduce penalties, if not waive them entirely.
With a DMP, you’ll be able to avail of professional services to collate and reorganize your unsecured debt, so your payments are more manageable and predictable, while keeping your payments reliable and on amicable terms for your creditor.
Settling with Third-Party Collection Agencies
Sometimes, you’ll find that a creditor is willing to accept full payment for less than the total amount of the debt owed. This is what’s called a debt settlement, not to be confused with debt management.
Debt settlement, whether you’ve arrived at it by yourself or with help from a third-party, is going to have consequences for your credit score. What’s more, debt settlement can take up to three years; all the while you’ll still be getting collection calls and letters in the mail, you’ll still be getting charged fees and interest.
Not all creditors are willing to negotiate either, so whether or not you’re able to settle, you’ll have to fork over the cash to pay for the services of the debt settlement company you probably hired. And, whatever amount of debt you’re forgiven, the IRS will consider it to be income, which you’re going to be taxed for.
By contrast, debt management takes all of your debts and reorganizes them so that you only need to worry about a single, more manageable payment. With debt management, you can pay back your full debt while protecting your credit rating from any further damage. It’s even possible for your credit rating to benefit from the steady, timely payments debt management plans help you achieve.
The FDCPA has laid out rules for the conduct of debt collectors, such as how late bill collectors can call and what they can and cannot say to you. To know your rights, take the time to review the following protocols for debt collectors, so the next time you’re dealing with a debt collector, you’ll know if your rights are being infringed upon.
Debt Collectors Cannot:
- Call you before 8 AM in the morning or after 9 PM in the evening.
- Physically come to confront you at your workplace.
- Make use of any obscene language.
- Make or insinuate any threats of violence or arrest.
- Make the debt publicly known or even threaten to make it publicly known.
- Call repeatedly.
If you are ready to get out from under the thumb of pesky debt collectors, set up a Debt Management Plan with DebtQuest USA.