No Need to Panic: What to Do When Debt Collectors Call
It’s enough to increase your heart rate and make you break out in a sweat. The debt collector is calling!
Debt collectors have tricks up their sleeves, so you are right to be concerned when debt collectors call. If you owe a lot of money, it very well may be worth your while to hire a debt collection defense attorney who knows the ins and outs. But if you are planning to speak with a debt collector yourself, you need to be prepared. Consider the following advice.
Debt collectors like to keep you off balance, and often they also like to intimidate you. If you get rattled, you may end up agreeing to a payment plan you cannot afford or even to pay for something you do not really owe! So, keep calm and understand you do not need to agree to anything today.
Make Sure It’s Not a Scam
It’s possible the person on the other end of the phone isn’t a debt collector at all, but rather a scam artist trying to get information for identity theft.
Ask for the name of the company, a callback number and the name of the debt collector who called. Do some Internet research and call the number to verify who they are. If you are still in doubt, you may want to contact a good Florida debt collection defense attorney.
Know Your Rights
When debt collectors call, don’t talk with them until you know your rights. If you owe a lot, at the very least you should speak with a Florida debt collection defense attorney. Many offer an initial free consultation.
Among many other rights you have, here are a few basics. Debt collectors
- Must tell you the amount due
- Must tell you the name of the creditor
- Must disclose your right to verify or dispute the debt
- May not harass you, be abusive or lie to you
- May not contact you at work
Don’t Be at Their Beck and Call
Just because a debt collector calls doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and speak with them. If the time is inconvenient, tell them you will call them back or ask them to call within certain times or at a different number.
You can ask the debt collector to not call you at all, but before you do that, you at least need the time to write down their name, the company name, the company, the amount of the debt and who it is owed to so you or your attorney can send them a cease and desist letter.
If a debt collector continues to call your cell phone after you tell them not to, they may be violating the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). If they call you at work, they may be violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act) which protects consumers from unreasonable collection activity.
Write Down Important Points
Every time you speak with a debt collector no matter how briefly, take notes. Note
- The date and time of the call
- The name of the collector
- Name and address of the collection agency
- Amount they say you owe
- Name of the original creditor
- What was discussed
- Anything the collector says that is abusive or harassing
Know What You Owe
Don’t talk to a debt collector until you are clear on what you owe and to whom you owe it. Go through your bills, credit reports and delinquency notices in anticipation of a call if you owe money.
Ask for Verification of the Debt
Ask the debt collector to send information about the debt in writing
- The amount
- The original creditor’s nae
- The date of the debt
You can give them your address, because they can get that from your credit report anything. Just do not admit you owe the debt.
Don’t Admit to Anything
When debt collectors call, they are recording everything you say. Do not admit the debt is yours. Definitely never agree to a payment arrangement or make a payment until you are absolutely certain you owe the debt and that it is still collectible. You could end up restarting the statute of limitations on a debt that is not collectible because too much time has gone by.
Debt collectors try to collect on debts that have passed the statute of limitations much more frequently than you might think. If you aren’t careful, you could end up reviving a debt that was uncollectible due to the passage of time.
At least until you have verified the debt, don’t talk about how you plan to pay it. The debt collector can use anything you say to try to collect. Just because a debt collector asks a question doesn’t mean you have to answer no matter how pushy you are. Don’t tell them about your income or your other bills and debt. Until you are certain you owe the debt, know it is collectible and are ready to pay it, there is no point talking about your finances.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Some debt collectors will try to bully or intimate you into paying. Others will lie. Don’t fall for any of it. You do not have to set up a payment plan on the same day you talk with them. Think it over. Talk with your Florida debt collection defense attorney if the debt is substantial. But don’t be bullied or tricked.
Make a Plan
After you make it through the call with the debt collector, you need to decide what you want to do next. Do you want to set up a payment plan, pay the debt in full, make a settlement offer or dispute the debt?
If you are being sued or if a debt collector is threatening to sue you, the experienced attorneys at Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters are happy to advise you. Don’t be intimidated when debt collectors call. We can help. Contact us for a free consultation by submitting this form. Or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora.