Chances are if you have fallen behind on paying bills or you are facing serious delinquency at any time, you have received calls from debt collectors. They contact you in an attempt to collect any money you owe directly to them or to one of their clients (the original lender). There are limits on how far debt collectors can go to collect a debt, but even when they stay within those limits, speaking to a debt collector can be very unpleasant. And if a collector is insisting you owe a debt for which you believe you are not responsible, things can escalate rather quickly.
Knowing how to speak to debt collectors and understanding what you should and should not say can make a big difference in the direction of the conversation and the future of the debt situation. What should you do when a debt collector calls?
1. Gather Information about the Debt
If the debt collector calls you at work or any other time when you are unable to speak, take down information about the debt and ask them to call back at a later time. Even if you have no intention of later discussing the debt, you should still get their name and address so you can send them a cease and desist letter regarding the debt to put an end to the calls.
Keep in mind there are limits to what a debt collector can say and do when calling you. Harassment is illegal. This information information can help you determine if a debt collector has crossed the line.
If you do choose to discuss the debt when they call, take notes on the call. Write down the date and time of the call, the name of the collector and their client if there is one, contact information for the collector, the amount of the debt, and anything else you discuss during the call.
2. Avoid Admitting Responsibility for the Debt
Even if you think the debt is accurate, it is important you double check your records before admitting to anything. Debt collectors are known for making up debts or trying to collect on debts that have surpassed the statute of limitations. If you admit to the debt during the phone call it can trigger a new responsibility for an old or inaccurate debt.
If you believe you are being asked to pay a debt for which you are not responsible, state that you believe they are calling you in error and request additional information by mail. You can give the debt collector your most up-to-date address, but never share information about your other debts, income, or financial responsibilities. Any information you give freely or confirm for the debt collector can be used to collect on the date in the future.
3. Hang Up and Choose Your Next Move
Hopefully the call will end in a civil manner and you can determine what to do next. However, there are instances in which the debt collector will push to continue the conversation. If you need to, hang up.
Once the call has ended, you can confirm the debt and determine your next step. It is important you not ignore debt collection calls, but you should not feel forced into negotiating when you are unprepared and a debt collector is pressuring you.
If debt collection calls have gotten out of control or you have questions about debt collection, we can help. Contact the Tampa Bay bankruptcy attorneys the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to speak with someone about debt collection and money management.