What is Debt Collection?
If you owe money, the lender, or creditor, has a legal right to pursue “collection,” which means trying to get you to repay the borrowed money.
Dealing with Debt Collector
Many debt collectors are unscrupulous and unethical, most will do or say anything that might convince you to send some money, and none have your best interests in mind. Many debt collectors routinely violate laws regulating their industry. You can’t force debt collectors to leave you alone if you have legitimate debts, but you should know your rights and how to deal with collection activity. (Actually, you can stop collectors from calling and writing you by sending the creditor a written “cease & desist” letter. Doing so greatly increases the chances you’ll be sued because that’s the only option you will have left the creditor.)
You have no obligation to take debt collectors’ phone calls. You won’t miss important information by refusing debt collectors’ calls. If you’re being sued you’ll get a notification through the postal mail. Read your mail from parties to whom you may owe money, but there’s generally no benefit to you in making an unsolicited call from a debt collector.
Though it’s illegal to do so unless they truly plan to follow up and take action, debt collectors routinely threaten lawsuits, garnishment, property seizure, even arrest. Creditors you’re not paying in accordance with your loan agreement have the right and eventually may sue to prepare for garnishment. But if a creditor takes that course, you will get legal notification documents in the postal mail. If you will find it frustrating and stressful listening to debt collectors’ threats made by telephone, don’t take their calls.
There is no point in explaining your situation or debating with a debt collector who telephones you. The collector has no genuine interest in your situation, will assume you are lying, and any agreement you may think you’ve reached verbally with a debt collector will evaporate the moment the call ends. The debt collector has a single goal in calling you: Getting you to send him or her some money, today. Debt collectors will use virtually any tactic that they’ve learned that might work in reaching this goal.
Read the Federal Trade Commission’s Fact Sheet “Fair Debt Collection.” This Fact Sheet explains what debt collectors can and cannot legally do. If debt collectors are routinely violating the law in their dealings with you, contact a consumer law attorney. You may be able to turn the tables, sue the debt collector, and collect money damages. Many consumer law attorneys’ fees are a percentage of the settlement, so you wouldn’t have to pay the attorney out of your pocket.
Understand the Debt Collector’s Mentality
Debt collectors assume-rightly, in many cases that you have the cash to pay toward some of your debts but not enough cash to pay on all of your debts. They know from experience that the bigger nuisance-they can be in your life, the more likely they’ll be the one to get some of your money, as you try to make them go away for a while. So if you owe money to more than one creditor, you will likely become the subject of a nuisance contest among debt collectors working for your creditors. If you understand this, it’s easier to control your stress level in the face of the often nasty tactics debt collectors use.