Did you encounter the financial difficulty that caused you to default on your loan payments? If your lender has sold the debt to a debt collection agency, the countless calls and constant harassment can take a toll on you.
If you are beginning to feel overwhelmed and constantly dodging calls from new numbers, there is an easy 11 word phrase you can use to keep debt collectors away- “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me, immediately.” This phrase will make your debt collectors cease contacting you. By keeping debt collectors on their tracks, you can get some quiet time to strategize and get your financial life back in order. Here is a comprehensive guide on rules that govern debt collectors and what you should and should not do when debt collectors contact you.
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4 Rules Debt Collectors Should Follow
When you are late on your debt payments, your lender will sell your debt at a lower price to a debt collection agency. The debt collectors then take over the responsibility to ensure you repay your debt. Thus, they can message, call or sue you.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) agency protects consumers from intimidation, harassment, and threats by creditors and debt collectors. However, despite debt collectors being aware of these laws, most ignore and violate them. Other than stopping contact when a debtor requests, there are other rules which limit a debt collector’s action, such as;
- Contact Hours: A debt collector should not contact you at unreasonable hours of the day, especially when they know it will inconvenience you. So, they should only call between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- No Harassment Or Threatening: The law prohibits debt collectors from threatening or harassing debtors to collect payment.
- Employment: According to the FDCPA, your workplace is off-limits. While your debt collector is allowed to call your employer to obtain information like your phone number or physical address, it is against the law for them to disclose any personal financial information to your employer.
- Talk With Your Attorney: If you have an attorney and the debt collector is aware, they should correspond with your attorney instead of contacting you directly.
When debt collectors violate any of these laws, they are subject to civil and criminal penalties. So, you can sue them or discuss with your attorney the way forward.
Are Debt Collectors Calling You? Here’s What to Do
Receiving calls from debt collectors can be overwhelming. The first call is particularly intimidating as the collector informs you about your debt, actions they can take to recover the debt, and the duration you have to repay the debt fully.
However, debt collectors often ignore the law and harass debtors when trying to get them to pay their debts. When you know your rights, unlawful tactics by debt collectors will not intimidate you. You can even use their violations to your advantage. Knowing what to do when debt collectors call can ease your anxiety and keep you from making mistakes that could put you at financial or legal risk.
When a debt collector first calls you, they should legally provide you with information regarding;
- The creditor’s name
- Your ability to get information on the original lender
- The specific amount you owe
- Your right to dispute the debt
If the debt collector does not give you this information during the first call, they should send the information within five days after contacting you. Here are three things you should do once the debt collector contacts you;
Verify That They Have the Correct Information
The first step is to ensure the debt collector has the correct information. Sometimes, the debt collector may have the wrong contact information and could be mistakenly calling you. In this case, you should clarify with the agency to ensure they don’t contact you again.
If they have the correct contact information, verify other details are correct, such as the amount of debt. Ask about which debt they are collecting, especially if you are behind on multiple debt payments. As you verify this information, don’t confirm this information through the phone. A verbal confirmation that you owe the debt makes it difficult to dispute the debt later.
Keep a Record of Your Communication
It is essential to record every communication between you and the debt collectors. Write down the name of the agent who called, at what time they called, what they said, and how long the call lasted. These records will help you remember the information the debt collectors shared with you.
They will also help you keep track of any errors or mistakes the debt collectors may have made. If the debt collectors violate any laws, the records can serve as proof. Any threatening or abusive language can also form the basis for a countersuit against the collectors.
Decide Your Next Step
If you are experiencing financial hardship and are falling behind on your payments, there are numerous options available to you. You can file for bankruptcy, apply for a debt consolidation loan, hire a debt settlement company or work with a debt management firm. So, when the debt collection agency begins to call, you need to figure out your next option.
Do your research and due diligence before settling on a debt-relief option. There have been people who have shared their negative experiences with debt settlement companies. In most cases, when you ignore the debt collectors and do not make repayments, they may file a lawsuit against you. So, you need to figure out what to do next.
While the 11-word phrase will keep the debt collectors from contacting you, your debt remains unpaid. Therefore, you need a permanent solution to handle the debt. Find out about the options available to you. Then, consult on which option is suitable depending on your situation. You can use a debt relief calculator to compare different options and see which is applicable and most effective for you.
Avoid Doing These Four Things When Debt Collectors Call
Although you have different options available when debt collectors call, there are four things you should avoid;
- Using Abusive Language- it may be embarrassing receiving a call from a debt collector about a debt you owed a different company. Their aggressive efforts could also be a little intimidating. However, similarly to how debt collectors are not allowed to threaten, abuse, or harass you verbally or physically, you shouldn’t also use abusive language. Debt collectors are stressful and aggressive, but abusive or threatening language will not help you. In most cases, debt collectors record phone calls. So, using any slurs, curse words, or other abusive languages may be kept on record until your case is closed. If they decide to sue you, the debt collectors could present these recordings in court.
- Conceding Any Information- the debt collector may call you and ask you to confirm the debt. Admitting you owe a debt is a verbal confirmation, and we’ll make it impossible to get the debt disputed, discharged, or dismissed. So, do not concede to any information.
- Agreeing to Make a ‘Good Faith’ Payment- in most cases, a statute of limitations specifies how long lenders can collect on a debt. The period begins when the last payment is made. If your debt is nearing the end of the statute of limitations, your debt collector might request you make a “good faith payment,” no matter how small, to show you are working with them. Usually, they promise not to be so aggressive if you make a repayment. However, their main aim is to reset the timeframe to ensure the statute of limitations extends longer.
- Ignoring the Debt – the 11-word phrase will keep debt collectors at bay, but you still have a debt to repay. When you ignore their attempts, the debt collectors may choose to sue you instead. So, after receiving the first call, find out the next move to avoid a lawsuit against you.
Dealing with debt collectors can be irritating. Fortunately, you now know of an 11-word phrase to keep debt collectors from contacting you. However, that doesn’t take care of your debt. So, consider the different debt-relief options to take care of your debt. You can file for bankruptcy, opt for debt settlement, debt management, or a debt consolidation loan. Do your research and choose the best option for you. You can make the research easy by using a debt relief calculator to compare the debt-relief options and identify the one which suits you best.