Many are experiencing difficult economic times, and some of you have fallen behind on your credit card bills. When the calls start coming in, you answer them and cooperate with the debt collector feeling as though you’ll be able to catch up with the payments soon enough.
You also don’t want your credit score to suffer in real estate. You’re thinking that if you cooperate with the “nice” debt collector, he won’t rush to report you to the credit bureaus and ruin your credit score.
You may have been able to make the next month’s payment or even catch up, but then you fall behind again and possibly miss payments on other credit cards. And eventually, those collectors start calling too.
Whatever and however you ended up here, you never meant to fall behind. And you swear that you want to pay them back, but can’t. Unfortunately, the calls do not stop. What at first were friendly reminders and requests for payments turn into persistent and menacing calls for immediate payment?
Once the calls become undignified and insulting, the debtor’s collectors may have crossed the line and violated the FDCPA. We’ve covered this law extensively in our other tutorials and recommend that you listen to them if you believe they may be misleading you, or if they begin to use profanity or other tactics that are harassing in nature. If they do these things, you may have a claim.
Now let’s suppose that the calls are respectful and, while firm, do not insult, threaten you or violate the FDCPA in any way. But they are consistent. You’re tired of asking for more time, more understanding. They give you time but ask for some sort of payment. You eventually stop answering their calls.
Now the ringing of the phone itself becomes the constant reminder that you’re behind on your payment. When the phone rings, you’re thinking “I hope that’s not a 1-800 number”. When you check the caller ID, if it is a debt collector, you may let it ring and may even delete the messages without even listening to them.
Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Simply answer the call and get the person’s name, their business name, and business address and mail them a letter asking that the phone calls stop and that all communication is in writing.
Now, there are a lot of things you could have done better. For example, you could have asked that they validate the debt. This would have ceased all communication until they validate the debt. Sometimes they may never be able to. These calls will stop until they do.
Either way, send the letter, whether it is a letter asking that they validate the debt (which I recommend you do first) or a letter asking them to stop calling, but send the letter certified so that you can later prove that the letter was sent and received.
If the calls continue, they have violated the FDCPA and you have a claim against them. You may never be able to pay them, but if you ever negotiate with them, be sure to know that a lawsuit for an FDCPA violation will certainly give you the leverage you need to get the terms that work for you.