Debt collectors are probably one of the most despised professionals in the financial industry. They are tasked to go after people who have missed debt payments. They are trained to force people who are in financial distress and push them in a state of panic so that they will make rash decisions that will eventually lead them to pay their debts. In short, they are notorious for making people’s lives a lot worse than it already is.
If you think about it, there is really nothing wrong with the job of debt collection agencies. After all, it is not their fault that you are behind on your payments. It is not their fault that you decided to borrow money and now you are unable to pay for it. You cannot blame them for the way your debt problems are holding you back. They are just doing their job because it is your responsibility to pay off your debt. You borrowed the money and now you have to pay it back – regardless of how messed up your finances are right now.
While the debt collectors are just doing their jobs, it is actually their methods that sometimes give their profession a bad light. According to the data published on ACAInternational.org, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received 2,705 debt collection complaints in January of 2016 alone. These complaints are all in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
What you have to understand is that these debt collection agencies profit from any payment that they will get from you. This is why a lot of their collectors will take drastic and even abusive measures to force you to pay your dues.
5 tips to help you handle rude collection calls
While it may be true that paying off your debt is your responsibility, that does not mean your life should be made miserable for it. You do not deserve to be treated in an abusive and harassing manner. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission is one of the agencies protecting consumers against the bad practices displayed by debt collection agencies.
According to the data published on FTC.gov, the agency boosted their efforts against companies practicing illegal debt collection practices. In fact, the FTC were able to permanently ban 30 companies from the debt collection industry in 2015. The agency was also able to get almost $94 million in judgments as payment for the abusive practices of debt collectors.
While the government is working hard to protect your rights, there are a couple of ways that you can also keep those abusive debt collection calls from happening. Here are 5 things that you can do to help protect yourself.
Know your rights.
There are debt collection laws that you should try to learn because these will help you recognize if you are already being abused or not. Sometimes, debt collectors will say anything just to get you to pay your dues. They will resort to threats, rude comments and will even tell you that you will go to jail if you do not pay up. If you know the debt collection laws, you know that all of these are mere bluffs. They are not true. Nobody will put you in jail. Nobody can harm you because you did not pay up. No one will take your children from you. When you know the laws, you will know when the collector is lying to you. This knowledge will keep you from being scared and threatened when it is not true.
Another strategy that will help you keep debt collectors in check is to put everything in black and white. Let us start with the simple documentation. Every time a collector calls you, record it by getting the name of the collector, the agency they belong to, the time they called and what was discussed. If you have confirmed that the debt is yours and you are responsible for paying it off, you should negotiate with the collector for your payment. Be honest about what you can afford. Agreeing to pay an amount that is too high will only result in future problems. While you are negotiating, make sure that everything will be put in black and white. Document all the agreements and make sure it is signed by an authorized representative of the collections agency. These documents will assure you that nobody will back down on what was agreed upon.
Don’t take the call.
This strategy is best for calls that should never happen in the first place. Sometimes, collectors call the wrong person and demand that they pay up for a debt even if they do not have to. For instance, if the debt is beyond the statute of limitations, you do not have to pay anything and the creditor or lender cannot sue you in court for it. However, if the collector is able to make you pay for it, that will reset the statutes of limitations and you will be held liable for that debt once more. If you know that you do not have to pay off that debt or if you are being called for the wrong debt in the first place, just do not answer the calls.
Put down the phone.
This is perfect for situations wherein the conversation is starting to turn ugly. If the debt collectors start to threaten you, say rude things and verbally abuse you, feel free to put the phone down. Regardless of your debt situation and how you have messed up your finances, you do not deserve to be abused verbally. Just put the phone down and think about how you can solve your debt situation. And if you already have a plan in mind, you do not have to take any more calls. Ideally, you should go straight to your creditor so you can negotiate with them directly.
Hire a professional.
The last strategy that you can use to keep debt collectors in check is to hire a professional. If you are really in a bad credit situation, getting the help of a professional could finally help you solve your problem. If you will enroll in debt management, credit counseling or debt settlement, you will not only benefit from the professional advice of the debt experts. You will also benefit from their assistance in taking debt collection calls. If a collector calls, you can direct them to the debt expert who is helping you get out of debt.
If you are looking for more tips, here is a video that will help you deal with ugly debt collection calls.
How to remove your debt from collections when you are broke
When debt collectors start calling, there is a high chance that your finances are in big trouble. If you are indeed broke and having a hard time paying off your debt, there are a couple of things that you can do to help improve your financial situation.
- Start with a budget. This is the best way to check if you are really broke or not. Some people think they are broke but the truth is, their finances are simply not managed well. You need to create a budget so you can check your income and how it is divided into the various expenses that you need to meet each month.
- Have a debt payment plan. Once you have checked your budget, you should have an idea of your current financial situation. This will give you a better chance of creating a debt payment plan that you can afford to commit to. You need to follow this plan to finally get yourself out of debt.
- Stop accumulating debt. While you are working on your debt payment plan, you should also make a commitment to stop accumulating debt. According to an article published on WSJ.com, consumer debt decelerated at the start of 2016 – probably because of the current financial market. While this is a good motivation to stop taking in more debt, your own debt level should be enough to get you to stop. Keep your current debt levels low so debt collectors will not have a reason to call you.
- Increase your debt payment fund. There are two ways you can do this. The first is to increase your income. This can include working longer hours or taking on a side gig. The second way is to spend less. Just look at your budget and see where you can save money. Whatever extra money you save or earn should be put towards your debt so you can get out of debt faster.
Negotiate with your creditors. Finally, you have to find the courage to negotiate with your creditors – especially if you think that your finances can no longer accommodate your original payment terms. If you think that you do not have the time or skill to negotiate, you can hire a debt expert to help you out. Enroll in a credit counseling, debt management or debt settlement program. These programs will assign a debt expert to help you talk to creditors.