Debt is already horrible enough on its own, but being harassed by debt collectors only adds to that stress. Victims of collection harassment often endure it, assuming that they have no legal options to help them tame the harassment. However, this isn’t the case.
If debt collectors are harassing you, it is important to realize that this issue it won’t go away on its own. So, avoid ignoring the issue. If your debt has been turned over to collection agencies, know that they have dozens of people whose job is nothing else besides making phone calls all day.
When Can Debt Collectors Call You?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that debt collection agencies can only call you between 8:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. only regarding payment issues. The collection agency should not call your office if you are not allowed to receive collection calls there.
If you are being represented by a lawyer regarding the debt, the collection agency should deal with them and not you.
How Can You Stop Harassment by Debt Collectors?
To stop debt collectors from harassing you, use the 9 tips below:
1. Ask for Proof that You Owe Money
You should send the collection agency a debt validation letter via certified mail with a return receipt request. Doing this will help you know whether your creditor has actually authorized the debt collection agency to collect the money. You should never acknowledge the debt if you are not the person that owes the money.
2. Dispute Any Invalid Debt
If the debt collection agency is not able to prove that you owe money, you should dispute the debt in writing. You can send the collection agency a letter via certified mail informing them not to contact you again. If you dispute a debt or demand validation of the debt, the collection agency is required to cease all collection activity until it sends you verification of the debt.
3. Know Your Rights
It is important to be aware of your basic rights as a consumer to deal with debt collection agencies. You have the right to ask the identity of the collector, collection agency’s name, and debt amount. You also have the right to ask the collection agency to validate debt after you receive the collection notice. Familiarize yourself with your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and find out what your options are should collectors violate the laws.
4. Complain If It’s Necessary
You should never simply sit back at home if a debt collection agency is harassing you. Use the Internet to get the contact details of the attorney general in your state or even the FTC. A single complaint might not make a significant difference, but if many people complain about the same issue, then the attorney general or FTC will be compelled to take some action.
5. Work Out a Deal
It is important to strike out a deal with the collection agency and negotiate a payment plan. The repayment plan should be in writing and signed by a representative of the collection agency. Having a repayment plan in writing helps avoid any miscommunications regarding the terms and conditions of the plan in the future.
6. Protect Your Bank Accounts
It is important to keep separate bank accounts for your disability payments and Social Security funds. The collection agency can freeze your bank account via a court order. During this period, you might find it very hard to maintain your family budgets. So, keep your disability checks and Social Security funds in separate accounts. At the very least, you can use the money to meet your expenses.
7. Maintain All Records
You should pay an amount as per the records. Keep records of all conversations you have with collectors. Don’t just pay money because you want to get rid of the harassing collection agency. Debt collectors sometimes don’t have accurate records themselves. So, ensure that you keep proper records of all documents for as long as you want. You might find yourself getting a collection call for a loan that you paid off 10 years back. The documents and records will be very helpful during such days.
8. Hire a Lawyer
If you are the victim of debt collection harassment, you should consider seeking legal representation to stop the collection agency from bothering you any further. If you have no real option on how to deal with sustained collector harassment, you should hire a layer to help you fight for your rights. Hiring a lawyer means that you will have someone else talk to the collection agency and represent you in court if necessary.
9. File for Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is the final solution to dealing with harassment by collection agencies. Once you file the initial bankruptcy papers, you will be automatically protected from all collection activity. The collector will need to first get permission from bankruptcy court before proceeding with collection efforts and the court cannot grant permission to entities seeking to collect unsecured debt such as credit card debt. Filing for bankruptcy is one of the best ways to stop collection agencies from harassing you.
The Bottom Line…
Harassment by debt collection agencies can be quite stressful, but the good thing is that you have options available to you.
If you follow the tips discussed here, chances are that you will have either fewer or no collection agencies harassing you in the future. Don’t allow debt collection harassment to consume your life, but instead take action.