How to Handle Aggressive Debt Collectors
Falling into debt is stressful enough as is, but on top of everything else you might get phone calls or personal visits from debt collectors. To protect your sanity, practice the following tips for fighting them off—while protecting your finances at the same time.
Get Information about the Alleged Debt
Many debt collectors buy old debt. In fact, some debt is so old that the collector cannot legally sue you to collect on it because the statute of limitations has expired. Before doing anything, try to get as much information about the debt as possible:
- Name of the original creditor
- When you took out the debt
- The initial amount borrowed
- How much you currently owe
- When the collection agency took over the debt
Debt collectors might not be anxious to share this information. Instead, they might try to induce panic so that you happily turn over your banking information. Remain calm. Insist that they send you information about your debt, preferably in writing.
Don’t Agree to Pay the Debt Back
The last thing you want to do is to immediately agree to pay the debt back. Instead, tell the debt collector that you don’t know what course of action you want to take. You have rights, but it takes time to learn about them. For example, you might decide:
- Not to pay the debt if the statute of limitations has expired. There’s nothing the debt collector can do to make you pay in this situation.
- File for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can wipe out most unsecured debts.
- File for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which gives you several years to pay back debts and discharges any unpaid unsecured debt at the completion of your repayment plan.
You should meet with an attorney to discuss these and other options. Every situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Most importantly, however, do not agree over the phone to start paying the debt.
Complain to Government Authorities
The government closely regulates debt collectors and prohibits a range of aggressive or abusive behavior, such as calling too early or late in the day or pretending to be an attorney. Debt collectors cannot lie about the debt or threaten you.
If you feel a debt collector has crossed the line, you should complain. Reach out to the following:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Visit their website to complain about aggressive debt collectors.
- Florida’s Attorney General’s Office. You can complain by calling toll-free 1-866-NO-SCAM.
- The debt collector directly. Tell them to stop calling you and keep a copy of your letter. This should stop all collections activity, although they can contact you to tell you what other action they intend to take (such as filing a lawsuit).
Speak with a Plantation Bankruptcy Attorney Today
Despite recent changes in the debt collection industry, too many debtors are stressed out by unrelenting phone calls and letters from collection agencies. Fight back. At Nowack & Olson, we have helped countless consumers in South Florida get a fresh financial start and we are here to help you, too. Contact us for a free consultation by calling 888-813-4737.