Fake Debt Collection Agencies Always Call Twice

Business, Money, News

It’s not uncommon for people with consumer debt to hear from creditors and collection agencies multiple times a day. While many phone calls are routine, they sometimes become harassing and unpleasant. Debt collectors use such tactics to scare or pressure consumers into taking steps they’re not ready to take.

Antoinette Davis, a Seattle bankruptcy attorney and legal analyst for Avvo.com, weighed in on the matter. “Consumers often feel powerless against a debt collection machine but with knowledge comes power. Debtors must advocate for themselves and this means that they should know their rights and exercise them,” said Davis.

So how should consumers advocate for themselves, and what do they need to know?

Know the Law

Find out how to deal with debt collectors and know when they’re breaking the law. Under federal law, third party debt collectors (i.e., collection agencies):

  • Cannot use obscene or threatening language
  • Cannot call you before 8 am or after 9 pm
  • Cannot call you at work if they’re told that you can’t receive calls there
  • Cannot pretend to be someone else
  • Cannot speak with anyone else about your debt (except possibly your spouse and attorney)
  • Cannot contact you about your debt via postcard

What if you’re not being contacted by a third-party debt collector but by the original creditor? Check your state laws. Many follow the same guidelines as above, but specifics can vary state to state.

Get Everything in Writing

Keep a log of the phone calls you receive if the collectors are calling you at work, calling at the wrong time, or using abusive and threatening language. Said Davis, “The burden of proof is on the consumer to prove that the debt collector violated the law so keep notes and document every communication you have with the debt collection agency.”

If you don’t believe you owe the debt they claim you do, you have 30 days to dispute the debt. Send a letter – it’s a good idea to use certified mail – and ask for verification of the debt. If you are responsible for the debt and come to an agreement for payment, get that in writing, too. You must be able to send copies of this agreement to the collection agency if they continue to contact you for a debt you believe has been settled.

Consider Contacting a Lawyer

If you’re unsure of what steps to take, and particularly if you’re dealing with original creditors that are subject to state law, consider discussing your case with a lawyer in your area. If you choose to be represented by an attorney, debt collectors must contact your attorney rather than you regarding your debt.

Don’t Bury your Head in the Sand

Debt collectors may sue you for the amount you owe. If the judge in your case rules against you, your wages could be garnished. Ignoring phone calls and letters may work for a while, but it’s better to make a plan and take charge of your finances. You don’t want to ignore a summons.

Don’t Take it Personally

Debt collectors can be rude, aggressive, and even deceptive to get what they want, but they’re just doing what they’re told. It’s about the job, it’s not about you.