How to Deal With Debt Collectors
Dealing with debt is rough enough. It’s stressful, depressing, and scary. What makes it even worse is if you begin to start receiving calls from a debt collector. You may receive a call from a debt collector for several reasons. Here are some reasons why they may contact you and how to stop a debt collector from contacting you in the future.
Why Debt Collectors Call You
- You owe money and have not paid.
Credit card debt, a car payment, medical bills, and even unpaid parking tickets can result in a debt collector contacting you to get this debt paid. If you are struggling to pay your bills, contact who you owe instead of letting it go to collection. They may be able to put you on a payment plan instead of letting it go to a debt collection agency. But if you have not done this or the person you owe wasn’t willing to work with you, your debt may have been turned over to collections.
- You have been a victim of identity theft.
Unfortunately, identity theft is not as uncommon as you think. If a person steals your information, they can apply for credit cards or take out accounts in your name. These things can then go to debt since they are obviously not paying for them. See How To Recover From Identity Theft for more information.
- There is a mistaken identity.
You can also be contacted if a debt collector is looking for someone with the same name as you or another similarity.
- They are trying to reach your family or friends.
Another reason why you may be contacted by a debt collector may have no reason to do with you at all. If a debt collector can’t find your friends or family member, they may contact you. They may simply leave their phone number and ask you to relay the message to your friend or family member, or they may also ask you to give them their number or address.
How to Stop a Debt Collector From Contacting You
Send a cease and desist letter. The best way to get a debt collector to stop contacting you is to send a cease and desist letter. Send a written letter requesting they stop contacting you, and send the letter through certified mail so you can be sure it was received. Make a copy of the letter for your records. If you don’t send the letter certified, there is no way to prove that you sent it and that the debt collector received it. The letter could otherwise get lost in the mail, or they can simply deny that they received the letter.
Request no contact at your work. If a debt collector contacts you at work and you are not allowed to take calls at work, tell the debt collector your employer does not allow calls at work and that you request they no longer contact you at your place of employment. It may be illegal if the debt collector then continues to contact you at work.
Once you send the cease and desist letter to the debt collector, there are still a few reasons why they may call you. They may contact you one more time after receiving your cease and desist letter to let them know they will no longer take action on your account. They can also contact you if they are taking further action with your account such as reporting your debt to the credit bureaus or filling a law suit against you.
Keep A Call Log
Anytime a debt collector calls you, keep track and take notes. Include what was discussed, especially if they use offensive language, threaten you or use any other harassing language or behavior. Ask them where they are calling from and their first and last name to include on this call log as well. If a debt collector is harassing you, this may be illegal as well. You may be able to contact a lawyer that specializes in debt collector harassment at that point.
In addition save these items:
- Voice mails. When a debt collector leaves you a voice mail on your cell phone or a message on your home phone answering machine, save it. If possible, include a date and time stamp with that message. Include any voice mails to the call log mentioned above.
- Contact with family and friends. Ask your friends and family to let you know if a debt collector contacts them in regards to contacting you. Ask them to keep any voice mails, any letters and keep track of the dates and times that the debt collector is calling.
- Letters. Save all letters and notices you receive from the debt collector, including the envelopes.
- Emails and texts. Save all e-mails and text messages you receive from the debt collectors as well as any other way they contact you. Print e-mails for extra safe keeping.
What If You Don’t Owe The Debt?
If you are being contacted by a debt collector and it’s a mistake, there are a few steps to take.
Contact the company. First, contact the person you owe this debt to. For example, if a debt collector contacts you because you have a Visa bill that is unpaid, contact Visa immediately to try to get this issue cleared up.
Dispute the debt. You can also dispute this debt by sending a dispute letter to the credit bureaus. In the certified letter you send, include as much information and proof as possible. Include your account number and any proof that you paid this bill such as an old statement. Make copies of everything you send so you can keep these for your records, and continue to dispute these debts. Anytime you send a letter to the credit bureaus, company you owe money to, or debt collector be sure that it is sent certified mail. You want to be able to confirm that it was received. Always include as much information as possible in the letter including any account numbers associated with the debt, your name, and a clear statement that you do not owe this money. Anytime you speak with someone on the phone about this debt, write down the date and time you spoke and the first and last name of the person you spoke with. This way you can reference this later if the problem reoccurs.
Have you ever had to deal with debt collectors? How did you do it?