It’s practically impossible to get by in our society without incurring some form of debt. It only takes a couple mishaps or an unexpected hardship to cause you to fall behind on your payments and, before you know it, you’re being hounded by creditors and collection agencies trying to collect on your debt.
Creditors will use any method they can, including illegal and unscrupulous tactics, to try to get you to pay back what you owe. However, just because you have debts doesn’t mean you don’t have rights.
Don’t allow creditors to use illegal, intimidating, or aggressive collection practices against you. Below we’ve detailed eight steps you can take to resist potentially illegal debt collection practices. Please remember, this blog is meant for informative purposes and is not intended as legal advice for your specific situation. If you’re being harassed by debt collectors, please call Bell Law to discuss your case and learn what we can do to help fend off your creditors.
1) Hire an attorney
An experienced and knowledgeable attorney like those at Bell Law will know how best to protect your rights when it comes to aggressive collection practices. We can advise you about your options and serve as the middle-man between you and your creditors so that they can no longer harass you directly. We can negotiate with your creditors or bring lawsuits against them if they engage in illegal collection practices. An attorney with a thorough knowledge of fair debt collection can also help you with all of the following steps.
2) Keep a detailed record
Keep every letter and email, as well as a log of each phone call, you receive from creditors or collection agents. Record the date, time, and the name of whom you spoke with in the case of phone calls. Also write a detailed description of what was said during the conversation. Such records may be valuable as evidence of illegal collection practices later on and they can help you get organized with regard to your debts.
3) Know your rights
You can’t utilize your rights if you don’t know them. Do your research and consult an attorney who is experienced in fair debt collection law. For example, do you know that creditors aren’t allowed to call you before 8AM or after 9PM? That they can’t threaten or mislead you? Consumer protection attorneys are well-versed with regard to such rights and, if you know your rights, you’ll know when debt collectors violate them.
4) Don’t hide from your debt
It’s important that you not attempt to hide from your creditors. The debts and aggressive collection tactics will only worsen if you ignore them. If you’re burdened with debts, learn about your rights
and how to fight back legally. Answer debt collection calls and be calm and detailed about your situation; you may find that collectors are more willing than you realized to make a deal. Which brings us to the next point…
5) Be honest
If you can’t pay your debt, say so. Explain why you can’t pay and when you expect to be able to pay. If your creditor doesn’t know you can’t pay, they will assume you can and do anything they can to collect. Sometimes all it takes is explaining your situation to get collection harassment to relent or stop altogether.
6) Send written requests
Firstly, if you don’t believe you owe the money a collector is asking for, submit a written notice saying so within 30 days of first contact with the collector. Once you do this, they’re not allowed to continue contacting you until they can prove that you do owe the debt in question. If collection calls continue or restart, then you can submit a written request to work out a payment plan and specifically request that the creditor not call you anymore. Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), they must cease calling you if you submit a written request. Keep copies of all written notices you send to creditors and debt collectors.
This is not an exhaustive list but it’s a good place to start if you find yourself overwhelmed by debt and collection notices. Don’t allow creditors and collection agencies to bully you. If you want to end the harassment and fight back against your creditors, contact Bell Law to discuss your options and how best to handle aggressive debt collection practices.