Debt Collectors? Learn To Give Them The Slip - Legally

by : William Brooks

The title 'debt collector' is self explanatory and clearly states what such a person does. If you owe money to a lender and there has been a delay in payments over the past few months the lender may choose to either use their in-house service or employ a specialized debt collection service provider.

If it is a third party i.e. a specialized collection agency, they usually purchase your debts for less than you owe from your lender and then the debt becomes theirs. Therefore, they now have a very high interest in getting the money to settle the debt.

Having a debt collector knocking on your door or receiving his call a number of times a day can be distressing. There is however a way out of the problem. Put in one word it is 'awareness' - an awareness of your rights and safeguards. This will control the debt collectors and not the other way around.

Debt collectors while doing their job may tilt towards being forceful and intimidating. As a defaulting borrower, you are already on a back foot. However, you can still stand firm and not give in to their demands.

Here is how:

The job of a debt collector is to advise you that you owe some monies. He cannot threaten, abuse or intimidate you by threats of harm or police action.

A debt collector may establish contact with the borrower in person, via sealed mail, telephone, fax or a telegram. He cannot use a postcard as it can be read by anyone. He cannot also call before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., unless you agree on a time.

The first call from the debt collection agency has to be followed up by a written statement clearly stating your creditor's name, the actual amount owed and what action he can take if you do not acknowledge the money owed. This written letter must be accurate and have no false information.

Also note, the debt collector cannot contact your relatives, friends, neighbor etc unless to obtain your contact information. In such circumstances he cannot inform them that you are in debt. You are entitled to your privacy even if you are in default.

Remember you cannot and should not force the debt collectors to coerce you into making payments as per their demands. A number of collection agencies work on the premise that the best way to get the payment is to make sure that it becomes number one on your priority list. While you know you owe the monies, you have to ensure that you clearly prioritize your finances. If there is a greater and pressing need for your money, like for medicines or food then you must allocate the funds accordingly.

You can choose to directly negotiate with the debt collector or appoint an attorney instead. If you deal directly, do not feel compelled to offer private information that can be misused to force payments from you. Example, details of where you work, your personal account information and the like.

Always seek written communication from the debt collector instead of phone conversations. This will put pressure on the collector to be polite and accurate in his dealings with you. All agreed terms and conditions will also be clearly outlined. The original amount owed, along with any interests and fees should also be clearly mentioned. It is also a good idea to tape your phone conversations after having explicitly informed the collector when he calls that the same is being recorded.

I would even write up what happened each and everytime you and the debt collector have any kind of contact. This can prove extremely helpful if anything should go wrong during the payment process.

If your debt collector continues with his forceful methods you have a right to redress. You can complain to the concerned authorities within your jurisdiction and obtain relief.

The best way to counter force is through knowing the facts and standing firm on them. If you have recorded and written down all of the contact you and the debt collector have had, proving actions will be zero problems.