How do I stop debt collectors from calling?
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UPDATED: Feb 4, 2013
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There are a number of ways you can stop debt collectors from calling you at home or work.
First, remember that most everyone has some form of debt, so relax and keep in mind you are just one of many.
People commonly borrow money for a variety of reasons, but due to job loss or unexpected expenses, some fall behind on payments for their debts. Most lenders send delinquent debts over a certain dollar amount to collections agencies. However, this isn’t a quick process nor is it guaranteed to happen with every type of lender.
“Most companies that depend on repeat business and a close customer relationship are therefore less likely to send an account to collections than a large company with which a consumer might only do business over the phone,” Kevin Gallegos, Vice President of Phoenix Operations for Freedom Financial Network, told loans.org.
Understanding your unique situation is the first step towards changing it and being able to end debt collectors’ calls.
Here are some ways you can put a stop to calls from debt collectors.
According to Gallegos, the first thing you should do is double check whether the debt collectors are calling about legitimate debt.
If a borrower believes that they are being pursued for an invalid debt, such as one that they never borrowed, they can legally dispute its authenticity.
“If a consumer disputes the debt and the agency is unable to prove that the debt is theirs, then the agency is legally required to stop trying to collect,” said Gallegos.
Borrowers that are being called for an invalid debt need to check their credit report for any inaccuracies.
Pay the Piper
The next thing you can do is pay up. Obviously this isn’t always possible, but it is a very direct method of handling the problem.
“If a company is threatening to send an account to a collection agency, the recommendation is to pay the debt, if possible, or set up a repayment arrangement with the creditor,” said Gallegos.
When comparing the two, lenders are generally easier to deal with than debt collection agencies, so your lender should be the first person you speak to when trying to settle a debt.
Know the Rules of the Game
Borrowers need to remember that there are rules that debt collection agencies must follow. These agencies legally cannot lie, invade debtors’ privacy, or make threats.
Should an agency overstep their legal limits and begin harassing you, then you should file complaints.
“Courts only play a role in the collection process if a creditor chooses to refer the account to an attorney licensed to practice law in the consumer’s state,” said Gallegos.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), it is illegal for collectors to call before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night. Additionally, if you request that they only contact you via mail, they will legally be required to do so.
The Last Resort
Depending on the type of debt, you can always file for bankruptcy. This will prevent debt collectors from contacting you about your debt but you will suffer the financial damage caused by bankruptcy filings. However, since a bankruptcy filing can prevent you from getting loans in the immediate future, this should be considered your final option.
At the end of the day though, there is little that collection agencies can do aside from make phone calls or send letters in the mail. While it may damage your credit to owe money to a lender, debt collection agencies’ barks tend to be worse than their bites.