Dealing With The Debt Collectors
By Darren Cason
Anyone can be anxious when the debt collectors are
constantly ringing up and sending threatening letters of
demand. But rest assured that there is protection in a
number of forms and ways that you can deal with the debt
collectors that hassle you.
There is an Act that lays down the guidelines as to what a
debt collector can and cannot do when they are trying to
collect a debt. It is called the "Fair Debt Collection
Practices" Act. This Act states, amongst other aspects, that
the debt collectors are not allowed to call before 8 a.m. or
after 9 p.m.; they cannot garnish wages in those states
where it has been made illegal and they must cease the
continual phone calls if you ask them to.
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There are several things you can do.
Don't take the call. Use an answering machine to screen
calls. For those people who have caller ID or call blocking,
you will be able to get rid of the call entirely.
If you do decide to take the call, it is entirely reasonable
for you to request that they do not contact you further. If
you send the agency a "cease and desist" letter, they are
then legally prevented from contacting you. Any legal action
can be expensive, so it is wise to try other ways first.
If the debt is in fact yours to pay, if you are able to, you
should think about paying it. After all it is your
responsibility and should be paid. If you are truly finding
it difficult to pay, then perhaps you can negotiate a way of
making regular, lower payments until the debt is paid in
Make the committment and stick to it and the annoying calls
should stop. These debt collectors are real people just
doing their job, even if some of them are less than pleasant
about it and they will usually not bother you once you have
an agreement with them.
Maintain a record of calls that have been made either by you
or to you in a diary, together with any arrangements that
have been made. Keep a record of when you have asked them to
stop calling - this is most important if they have been
calling you at your workplace. If it is legal in your state,
you may consider taping the phone call, but keep in mind
that often means that you have to tell the other person that
you are recording them.
There are not many debt collectors that are brave enough (or
unwise enough) to say things that may compromise them when
they are aware they are being recorded. The record or diary
will be helpful if you have negotiated a change in the
The majority of debt collectors are able to agree to a lower
payment, but because they usually get a commission based on
the percentage of their collection, they will push you to
pay as close to the whole amount as possible. However, they
do understand that if you are able to pay 50% of $500, it is
preferable to receiving 100% of nothing at all.
When you make an agreement, the debt collector should also
make their own commitment that they will not put any further
adverse comments on your credit report or
credit rating. Ask them to report any increase on your
credit score as well as the payments that you do make as
soon as possible so you can adjust the amount owed
Be sure that you obtain agreements in writing before you
send any substantial amounts of money. A "good faith"
payment is fine as it will show that you are sincere in your
efforts to clear the debt, but if you send too much at one
time, they will be less inclined to adhere to their side of
There are three things that you should always retain when
you are dealing with debt collection: patience, a realistic
outlook and remaining calm when discussing matters
financial. If you remember these, you will reduce the stress
of the situation.
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