Nothing is more stressful than being buried in debt. But add non-stop creditor harassment on top of that debt, and the situation becomes even more difficult. Victims of collection harassment know the uncomfortable sensation of uneasiness whenever the phone rings, especially when it keeps ringing throughout the day. While most people assume there's no way around creditor harassment, there are legal ways to make it stop.
The first step is to realize that simply doing nothing will not make it stop. Unfortunately, collection agencies have an endless supply of people whose jobs are to solely make calls at all hours of the day. So, how do you make it stop?
Follow these tips to help stop creditor harassment:
Tip 1: Know Your Rights
Don't just accept being bullied by debt collectors. Collectors are not polite and will not work with you, but you are not under their control. However, don't yell or lose your temper. Always keep a leveled head.
Remember that you have rights. There are certain things collectors cannot do when collecting debt. For instance, collectors are not allowed to call before 8am or after 9pm, unless you directly give them permission to do so. Set boundaries on their first phone call. You can also forbid them from calling your family or employer. Most important, if you do not want to be called, then you can instruct them to cease all contact. After you phone call, send them a follow up certified letter for proof that you laid out all your ground rules. Federal law mandates that notices must be in writing to retain full legal effect.
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, creditors cannot legally do the following:
- Repeatedly call you
- Call you at unreasonable hours or late at night
- Call your employer if you've told them not to
- Call without identifying who they are
- Contact your friends, family or neighbors unless you give them permission
- Employ deceptive tactics
- Threaten you with child custody, arrest, or loss of welfare benefits
- Threaten with self-help repossession when not authorized by the law
- Use derogatory, obscene, or insulting remarks
- Directly contact you after you've told them to call your lawyer instead
Tip 2: Make Sure That There Is Proof of Debt
While many people assume they have debt because a debt collector has called them, the truth is that you should never pay anything until you're given a notice and proof of the debt. If the company calling you cannot provide you documentation of the debt, then simply tell them to stop contacting you.
Even if you're aware of the debt you owe, make the creditor prove the debt to you. This step can protect you from fraud. Also, sometimes a third party company may buy the debt without receiving proof of it. That type of situation will only work to your advantage.
Always be upfront about your situation. If you cannot pay a debt, then tell the creditor the truth. If you know you'll have some money in the future, then give them an estimated time when you expect to pay the debt off. Doing so could also help stop those incessant phone calls.
Tip 3: Work Out a Deal
Fortunately, not all creditors are impossible to work with. Some creditors may even be willing to work with you. For example, they may allow you to make smaller payments if you pay a lump sum upfront. Or, they may even allow you pay only a percentage of the entire amount owed instead of the whole thing. Third party companies will be more willing to work with you, since they more than likely bought your debt for much less than what it's worth.