The phone rings day and night. If you answer, there’s a stern voice on the other end, demanding that you give them money.
You go through your days with a sense of dread, and your stomach twists every time the phone rings. Do you really have to go through all this?
The truth is no, you don’t. You don’t have any obligation to speak to a third-party debt collector.
Send a Letter
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have the right to demand that the debt collector contact you via the mail and through no other medium. Send the letter certified mail, return receipt, and include your account number if they gave you one. Specify that they may not contact you by phone, email, by text message, or via your social media accounts.
You can find a list of sample letters here.
If you intend to demand verification of the debt you can do this at the same time, though in many cases this doesn’t do a lot of good. Unless it’s a very old zombie debt that they’re hoping to resuscitate by intimidating you into paying them something, they’re always going to come back and say “yes, you owe the debt.”
Know Your Rights
Some debt collectors won’t take “no” for an answer. Some of these calls are also just straight up scams.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act so you know what a debt collector can and cannot do. For example, they may not threaten to have you arrested. They’re not allowed to call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM. They’re not allowed to publicize your debt. They’re not allowed to use profane language, or to make threats of violence or harm.
If they engage in these practices, or any other unfair practices, you can report them to the Attorney General. Both the individual debt collector and the company they work for are liable.
Don’t Ignore Debt Collectors
If you ignore the debt and it’s large enough, there’s a good chance the collection agency is going to launch a lawsuit against you. If that happens the only way to stop it will be to declare bankruptcy.
If you’re in enough trouble that lawsuits are a concern, reaching out to our office to schedule an appointment could help you address your financial problems before things get this dire. Contact us to schedule a free appointment today.