Despite being one of the worst methods to take in dealing with debt, plenty of people ignore collection efforts against them.
Of course, wanting to hide from a debt is understandable. If you cannot afford to pay it, you are concerned your problem is getting worse and you don’t know what to do, or you think there is nothing you can do because you don’t have the money to pay the debt, ignoring the problem provides an immediate respite.
And there are also instances in which someone is the victim of collection efforts on a debt that is not valid. Maybe they paid the debt or the statute of limitations has expired, or it was never their debt at all. If something doesn’t pertain to you, it’s natural to assume the problem will fix itself and you’ll be left out of the mess.
Unfortunately, ignoring collection efforts, on both valid and invalid debts, is a mistake.
What You Need to Know about Debt Collection
The first thing to understand about debt collection efforts is that every situation is unique.
Maybe you’ve heard that a friend ignored a debt and it “went away.” Sometimes the creditor decides a debt isn’t worth pursuing and they stop contacting you.
Maybe you’ve even had a situation where you ignored a debt long enough and collection efforts just stopped. Chances are the statute of limitations ran out and the debt wasn’t large enough for the creditor to pursue any drastic methods of collections. In many cases, if it will cost a creditor more to pursue a debt than the debt is worth, they let it expire.
However, you can’t assume this will be the case. If ignoring every debt long enough was the key to it disappearing, many people would try this method and there’d be far fewer instances of foreclosure, wage garnishment, and other debt collection efforts.
Collection Efforts Can Be Aggressive
Knowing whether or not a creditor is going to come after you for a debt is impossible to predict, so you’re better off dealing with the matter before things get out of hand.
What’s meant by “out of hand”?
It depends on the amount and type of debt. Some of the drastic actions a creditor might be able to take against you include:
- Receiving a judgment against you
- Garnish your wages
- Levy your bank accounts.
- Repossess or foreclose on certain assets
- File a lien or legal claim against certain property
- Sell your debt to a third-party collection agency
- Report nonpayment of debt to the credit bureaus
- Repossess leased equipment, which does not require a judgment or appearance in court
Certain types of debt can also result in garnishment of your tax refund and even jail time, but these penalties only apply to certain types of debt, such as child support and some federal student loans.
Dealing with Collection Efforts
In addition to all the legal action that can be taken against you regarding a debt, you also need to deal with the endless phone calls and intrusive debt collection efforts on a daily basis. Some debt collectors call multiple times a day trying to collect on their debt. And though harassment is illegal, there is still plenty of wiggle room collectors have for making your life miserable.
For more information about what debt collectors can and cannot do to collect a debt, visit this page from the FTC.
The bottom line is you shouldn’t ignore collection efforts against you. You shouldn’t feel guilty or as if you’ve failed either – you simply need to take action to remedy the problem.
If you’d like to discuss a debt that is causing you problems or you aren’t sure what to do and collection efforts are escalating, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to schedule a free consultation.