Sometimes it may be hard to remember that debt collectors are people, too. Just as there are good and bad used-car salespeople and good and bad insurance agents, there are good and bad debt collectors. The good ones will contact you maybe once during the day and will be polite and well mannered. On the other hand, the bad ones will call you day and night, scream at you, call you names and make nasty threats including the threat to contact your company and have your wages garnished.
What the law says
Several years ago, Congress passed a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The purpose of this law was to stop debt collectors from harassing you. It says that they are to contact you only between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM unless you agree to let them contact you outside those hours. They are not to contact you at work if they are told either in writing or orally that you are not allowed to receive calls there. The law also states that a debt collector is not allowed to contact anyone else about your debt except to get information about where you live. It is also not to use threats of violence or obscene language.
You might want to talk with the collector one time to see if the issue can be resolved. This is true even if you don’t feel that that the debt is yours, if you are unable to pay it immediately or if you think the collector had made a mistake in contacting you. If after you first talk with the collector you decide you don’t want any further contact, you can tell him or her this but you will need to do it in writing.
Here’s what to do
You need to send the collection agency what’s called a cease and desist letter – to stop contacting you. Make sure you send the letter certified mail and “return receipt requested” so you can prove that the collection agency received your letter. You should also keep a copy for yourself.
Once your letter is received by the collection agency, the collector is not contact you in the future with two exceptions. First, it can contact you to tell you it won’t be contacting you again, and second to tell you the creditor intends to take a certain action such as filing suit. While sending a cease-and-desist letter to a debt collection agency won’t get rid of your debt, it should stop the agency from contacting you. Of course, your creditor or the debt collection agency can still sue to collect on your debt.
Unscrupulous debt collectors
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous debt collectors who pay absolutely no attention to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you are being harassed by one of these people, you can report the company to your state’s attorney general’s office. Alternately, you could get an attorney and sue but only for a maximum of $1,000. Some of the really unethical collection agencies have corporate headquarters outside the US – so you probably wouldn’t be able to collect a cent from them.
You could change phone numbers
If you think that going to the Attorney-General’s office or hiring a lawyer would be too much of a hassle, you could change your phone number. However, the debt collection agencies are extremely good at tracking people down who change their phone numbers so you might get only a few weeks of respite from the calls.
Use debt settlement instead
An easier solution might be to hire us to settle your debts. Once you contract with us, we contact all of your creditors and debt collection agencies and put them on notice that we are now representing you and that they are no longer to contact you. We may be able to help you slash thousands of dollars off your credit card accounts and help you become debt free in 24 to 48 months. Learn more about debt settlement and why it might be your best alternative. Start a chat or call us today for complete details.