Dealing with debt collectors is tricky business… especially because they are trained to lay traps for you when they call. Double talk, empty promises, and flat-out lies will paint you in a corner and eliminate any bargaining room you may once have had.
When it comes to debt collectors, the less you say the better – especially if you have any doubts about their legal right to collect on the debt in question.
As a general rule, ask for everything in writing… and above all, NEVER say these six things!
Why? Your admission takes away all bargaining power and any hopes of having the debt thrown out in court because of lack of proper documentation. Never forget that you are probably being recorded each time the collector calls.
Why? Even a small payment (like $10 for instance) resets statute of limitation, giving the collector another 6 years to chase you. When they offer to process a good faith payment, they know exactly what they are doing. The closer your debt is to passing the legal limit of collectibility, the harder they will try this one. This is a great time to ask for a letter of validation. Chances are that if your debt is very close to expiring, they may just stop calling you.
Debt collectors LOVE processing electronic payments over the phone. Why? Because once they have your account information, they have what they need to initiate a garnishment order.
If you are going to make a payment, your best option is to pay by money order so you have proof of payment but do not compromise your banking info. Don’t ever send a post-dated personal check, either. The debt collector can actually cash it any time they want. Your bank is legally allowed to cash the check whenever it is presented, unless you specifically instruct them otherwise in writing.
A debt collector may ask you how much you make a week so they can negotiate a “reasonable payment plan” for you. That’s a crock. All they want is to know how much they can get out of you if they take you to court and garnish your wages. Lying about your income isn’t worth the hassle. You DO NOT have to disclose how much you make to them. Period.
Another favorite (and shady) tactic… A debt collector will probably ask for a list of assets to see if you “qualify” for reduced payments, but in reality they are just fishing for property to seize in court. Disclose nothing.
As tempting as it is, you should never use rude or profane language with a debt collector (even if they started it!) Expect all calls from a collection company to be recorded. Bad behavior on your part can come back to haunt you in court one day.
Two can play at this game, however. If a debt collector is rude or used foul language, start recording the call. If you don’t have a recorder… put your call on speaker and video the conversation with a friend’s cell phone. You can turn the tables and sue the collector for damages related to rights violations!
If you have any questions, please give us a call at 770-952-5168 or contact us online.
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This information is intended for informational and educational purposes only and not as legal advice. If you have concerns about your credit report, harassment, identity theft, illegal collections activity, garnishments, or property liens, you should consult an attorney who specializes in consumer rights and defense.