If you are in debt, pushy debt collectors are likely a fact of life. When you cannot pay your bills or are late with a payment, you can expect to start getting calls almost immediately. As more time passes with nonpayment, often the collection efforts get worse- especially if your lender ends up selling off your debt to a debt collection firm.
Dealing with these debt collectors can be very stressful and it can interfere with your relationships and leave you unhappy. You should not have to suffer with the phone ringing and debt collectors being pushy and rude. There are strategies to deal with debt collectors, and you should be aware of what laws protect you from aggressive collection efforts. You should also understand bankruptcy law so you can decide if you want bankruptcy to help you permanently put an end to the debt collection process.
US News provided some tips recently on how you can deal with debt collectors who are being overly pushy and intrusive. USA Today suggest that you:
- Keep your calm and avoid reacting. Debt collectors are trying to push you into a reaction or scare you into complying with their requests. You don't want to say things you regret or respond with emotion, especially as calls are recorded.
- Understand laws protecting you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from calling before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM. Debt collectors are also prohibited from intentionally annoying or bothering debtors on purpose; from communicating with you about anything other than new developments if you send a written request to end contact; and from calling you at work if you are not allowed to get work phone calls. Threatening legal action if they do not intend to follow through, and using abusive language, are also prohibited.
- Know what the statute of limitations is. If too much time has passed, the debt you owe is no longer collectible and you won't have to pay it back at all since collectors cannot go to court to force repayment on the old debt. If the statute of limitations has passed, you can send a Cease and Desist letter to demand contact stop.
- Ask for proof of the debt: A debt collector can be required to show that you owe the debt and that they have a right to collect it. If you ask for proof of the debt, they cannot continue collection efforts until they show this.
- Prepare before the call: If having a call with a collector makes you nervous, practice before you make or accept contact. You can even write up a script for what you are going to say to the collector.
You may also wish to consider bankruptcy protection. Under bankruptcy law, as soon as you file, an automatic stay goes into effect and collectors have to stop. This can provide much needed relief if collectors have been bothering you.