What Your Debt Collector Won’t Tell You About Their Phone Calls
Debt collection is a hard business. In some companies, it may be called the distressed accounts or recovery department. Other companies and law firms are debt collection agencies, and that’s all they do. They sometimes have a bit of “outlaw” attitude about their work. And, sometimes it’s more than simply their attitude that is outlaw.
While it may seem like they will say anything to make you pay, there are statements that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCP), which governs the conduct of much of the debt collection industry. Plus, there are some things they won’t tell you.
Make The Phone Stop Ringing!
A complaint often heard by bankruptcy attorneys from clients in Wisconsin who are preparing to file for bankruptcy protection, is that debt collectors call non-stop, call-after-call-after-call demanding payment. While the FDCP limits the collection calls between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM, many collectors prey on the ignorance of the people they call, assuming they won’t know any better.
While bankruptcy and its “automatic stay” will stop all the harassing phone calls, in addition to all other collection activity, you can stop the calls merely by writing a letter to the debt collector.
In the letter, identify your debt and that you no longer wish to be contacted by phone concerning it. After receiving that letter, the collector is only permitted to contact you to inform you that they are filing a lawsuit to collect the debt and/or that they will no longer contact you by phone. Remember, this does not eliminate the debt, but it will silence the phone.
You Could Make Your Debt Collector Pay
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for supervising debt collectors. In 2010, more than a quarter of all complaints (over 140,000) received by the FTC concerned debt collection. And, if companies violate the FDCP, you can do more than merely complain.
If a collection agency ignores the letter, (send it certified mail with return receipt, that way you have proof of when it was sent and received), carefully document every time they call. Your remedy is to then sue them and possibly receive up to $1,000. You may think, “I’m in debt. I can’t afford an attorney. How can I sue?”
In this case, you can. In addition to the $1,000, the collector may have to pay your attorney fees. Ironically, if you win, your debt collector would suddenly be in your debt.