Ben Todd | Apr 16, 2017 | 3
Dealing With Debt Collection Agencies: Know Your Rights And What You Can Do
People’s ignorance of the law and ignorance of their own rights is the reason why debt collectors are able to act immorally and illegally. People will sometimes tolerate this behavior because they feel as if they have done something wrong by not repaying the debt. They feel that fairness dictates that they are allowed to be treated poorly. The people who work for debt collection agencies are encouraged to use whatever means necessary, be they legal or not, to get money or goods from you, and that is just not acceptable.
Why Debt Collection Agencies Move In So Quickly
A common rule that seems to apply to many debt collection agencies is that if a debt is new, then the collector is more likely to collect. That is why as soon as a company passes your account over to a debt collection agency, they come at you hard and fast. They know that most people have never dealt with a debt collector or debt collection agencies before, and they know they have an intimidation factor on their side.
Car Repayment Issues
All it takes is two missed payments and the company that financed your car will pass your account over to repossession companies and not to debt collection agencies. The car company knows that the longer you have the car, the more value it loses.
A repossession company is not bothered about getting payments from you; they are bothered about towing your car away. This is good for you because it takes the heat off in terms of money you owe, but it may mean losing your car and all the money you have spent on it so far.
Go Dark On Social Media
If you cannot make a payment on your debt and the debt collectors are after you, the first thing you need to do is go dark on social media. Close your accounts, or set them as disabled. Many social media accounts allow you to return later without losing your friends, contacts and so forth. Even if you do lose your contacts and you have to start again, it is better than the alternative.
Some of the alternatives are debt collection agencies collecting information on you from your social media accounts, and them threatening you over social media with fake profiles that you cannot prove came from the debt collection company. They may threaten to tell your friends what a deadbeat you are, and they may goad you with threats of how they will come after your parents or grandparents for the money. Again, they do this via fake profiles they quickly set up and delete whenever they are reported.
Even debt collection agencies that do not engage in such nasty tricks will still use social media networks to track your location, to track your spending habits, and to track down your assets. Go dark on social media so they cannot target you. They cannot threaten to post messages online about how in debt you are because you cannot be found online.
Please Read All Of These Documents
The FTC (Fair Trade Commission) have three documents that should be of great interest to you. The first is more of an introductory piece called, Consumer Information Debt Collection That article explains many of your rights and gives you serious information that you can use to protect yourself.
A second online article is a little more technical and it is called Fair Debt Collection Practices This article is very technical, but it will help you build a case against debt collectors and debt collection agencies that act immorally and illegally.
The third document is a very long one and you should seriously consider reading it if you want to become somewhat of an expert on how debt collectors are allowed to conduct themselves. It is a 28-page PDF called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
What To Do If The Debt Collector Breaks The Law
You are able to sue a debt collector within 12 months of the alleged rule breaking. If you win, you are able to claim up to $1000, or up to $500,000 if there is a class action suit. If the debt collector breaks the law or the rules, your debt still remains, even if you win the court case.
Such a small penalty for debt collectors is obviously why debt collectors are so keen to break the law in order to recover debts. However, on the flip side, if the penalties were higher, then every person in debt would desperately take a chance at suing the debt collection agencies that are pursuing them.
What If A Debt Collector Sues Me
If you become litigious, then the first then a debt collector may do is sue you back. It is usually an empty threat, and even if it isn’t, there is nothing they can get you on if you haven’t done anything wrong. They can make a bunch of bogus claims, but the judge is likely to throw them out for being ridiculous. Respond to the lawsuit, with your lawyer if you wish, and see how far the debt collector tries to push it.
Can I Report A Debt Collector?
If your debt collector is breaking the rules or the law, then report him, her or the debt collection agency to the Attorney General’s office.
Each state seems to have slightly different laws, so you may have to check with the Attorney General’s office in your state to figure out how your rights differ from those in the documents listed on this article.
What To Do Once You Have Read All The Documents
Now that you understand your rights and what the debt collection agencies are able and unable to do, it is time to open negotiations. You do not have to do it face-to-face, you may do it over the phone.
Your job is to explain your circumstances and come to some sort of arrangement where you may pay off your debt slowly without them taking your stuff or trying to seize your money. If they play hardball and start breaking the rules, then you know what to do. If they start demanding more than you can afford, then make it clear that you cannot pay anymore.
Make sure you record all your phone calls where the recording picks up what you say and what the debt collector says. Tell the debt collector right from the start that you are recording the conversation. Explain that you would like to negotiate a deal where you set up a payment plan to pay off your debts.
Recording the conversation will help you prove that the debt collectors are breaking the rules (if they are). It also helps to prove that you have tried to reach an agreement and that the debt collection agencies you were dealing with have simply rejected them. This may come in handy if you are taken to court.
Record All Interactions However You Can
If you have any visits and you speak to the debt collector, then you should probably not open your door. Talk through a crack in your window, and make sure that the debt collector is unable to pry the window open or get into your house via the window.
Talk to the debt collector calmly, and explain that you are not comfortable opening the door. They have no right to force you to open the door unless they are accompanied by a real police officer with a real warrant. Record your conversations on your Smartphone for if you end up in court or for if you need to prove that the debt collectors broke the rule or law.
Conclusion – It Is Not Your Job To Get Out Of Paying
You are going to have to pay. If you truly can’t strike a deal with the debt collection agencies that are coming after you, then it may be time to consider more drastic measures such as insolvency or bankruptcy. This article and the articles it links to are going to help you understand your rights and what the debt collectors are not allowed to do. Once you understand the rules, you are in a better position to take control of the situation, and it may make negotiating a payment plan a little easier.