As a bankruptcy attorney in Las Vegas, people often ask me for help on what to say when a debt collector calls. Unfortunately, not everyone can qualify to file bankruptcy to solve their debt problems and many people who want to file bankruptcy must, for one reason or another, wait it out. This means that some people must face the unpleasant prospect of month after month, receiving calls from debt collectors.
For many people, speaking to a debt collector is worse than going to the dentist’s office, because at least the dentist will provide a pain killer.
But dealing with debt collectors is not so bad if you have a script in place, understand the rules of the conversation, and most importantly, know your legal rights. So here are my tips on handling calls from those debt collectors:
1. The conversation is probably being recorded, so don’t make threats, yell or use colorful language. It isn’t necessary, it won’t help solve the problem, and it won’t do you any good.
2. Debt collectors are human beings. Although this may be a novel or controversial position to take, if you take the call and are pleasant to the debt collector, you can have a conversation that can provide you with useful information.
3. Take charge of the conversation. Ask the debt collector questions instead of having the debt collector ask you questions. What is the name of the debt collector? What is the name of the creditor? What is the account number? What is the creditor’s mailing address? Is the debt collector employed by the creditor directly, or employed by a 3rd party agency? If employed by a 3rd party collection agency, what is the name of the agency & their mailing address? Does the 3rd party own the debt or are they just acting as an agent for the original creditor? When was the last time their records show that you made a payment? You should be writing down the answers to these questions because they could be very useful to you in the future.
4. How often does the debt collector call? If the caller is not an employee of the original creditor, federal laws under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates when the creditor can call you. If the caller is not employed by the original creditor, Nevada law requires that the debt collection company be licensed in Nevada. If not licensed in Nevada, the debt collector is breaking the law. Many unlicensed debt collectors may falsely claim that they have a Nevada license, but this is easy to determine by looking at the list of Nevada licensed agencies athttp://fid.state.nv.us/New_
5. Debt collectors are not allowed to make threats or false claims. If this should happen, you can fill out a written complaint with the Nevada Financial Institution Division or the Federal Trade Commission.
6. Debt collection companies must stop calling you if you tell them to. Make your request in writing and send the request to them by certified mail with a signed receipt.
7. Debt collection companies can and may sue you if you don’t pay. If you are sued, you should probably respond to the court in writing, even if you genuinely owe the debt. A debt collection attorney would rather settle the debt at a discount than to spend the time to prepare the case for trial.
8. Debt collection companies can settle your debts for “pennies on the dollar.” A debt collection company may have purchased your debt for “pennies on the dollar,” and can afford to pass some, but not all of the savings along to you.
Now that you know what to do when a debt collector calls, your next step should be to decide what you want to achieve in your financial life. Do you want to make it your goal to outsmart debt collectors? Do you want to be able to pay off all your debt? Do you just want to delay an inevitable lawsuit or even a bankruptcy? Do you want to try to rebuild your credit so that you can finance purchases at the best possible rate? These decisions are entirely yours to make, and the consequences will be yours to accept.
If you are overwhelmed by debt of more than $20,000, Bankruptcy could help you by eliminating these debts. For more information, visit my website at www.afreshstartlaw.com.