It’s a very peaceful Sunday afternoon and I’m enjoying the sun and summer like temperatures. What a great day to just unwind and prepare mentally for the coming work week! However in the midst of this Zen like moment the phone is ringing off the hook! Who could that be???
It’s a bill collector calling my home on a Sunday afternoon! Is nothing sacred I think to myself! It was a cordial lady on the line wanting to work with me on paying off an old medical related bill that I had most likely overlooked. I told her I was not prepared to discuss the bill until I had received some sort of validation of debt via snail mail and asked her to kindly stop calling me about this matter. I promised I would respond once I researched the situation myself and had contacted my health insurance provider to see if there was some sort of error. Bottom line my Zen moment was killed with that darn phone ringing and me answering it!
To put my mind back into to the previous peaceful state I decided to write about my experience and share with everyone who reads my blog. If you are one of the millions of Americans with debt collectors calling you on a regular basis then you need to know how to deal with them. I write this with the caveat that you do deal with the original creditor in most cases rather than the collection agency and that you do resolve the matter. (Unless the darn original amount owed is way way past the statute of limitations and in that case re-starting payment on such an old debt leads to prolonged issues with your credit files) To that end please make good on your promises and then learn to never get into that situation again. Agreed? …Good!
What should you do if a debt collector calls you on the phone at home or work?
- Answer the phone with utter calm and a powerful smile.
- Ask the caller to identify themselves and let them know you are logging/recording the call. At this point also ask for their mailing address and case file number for this attempt of collection. (Send Cease and Desist Letter via mail to them as soon as possible)
- In a clear and pleasant voice state you are not willing to do business over the phone at this point disputing the validity of the debt. (They must cease contacting you on this notice)
- Ask the caller to identify the original creditor and request written documentation be sent to your home mailing address.
- Do not let them threaten or harass you! They can’t do that under your rights. If they do this tell them once again you are not in a position to agree to anything and that you will certainly not do any business over the phone.
- Finally please calmly reinforce your demand to have the caller’s company cease and desist all collection activities on this matter as you are disputing this debt until it’s fully validated under your rights given by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Smile even more!
- Hang up and log the date and time of the call. If you get a future call from them log it once again and repeat steps 1-6 again. If they continue to ignore your cease and desist demands you may file a complaint against them and or sue for damages.
It all seems very easy but it can be very intimidating. Just remember you have the upper hand. You have the rules on your side! Essentially you are dealing with a person whose only interest is getting you to fork over some money. The debt collection phone rep is paid a salary and commission and the commission/bonus is based on converting old past debts into current revenue and profit. So don’t let a phone queue rep just doing their job ruin your Zen moment!
Whew, now that we have mastered how to deal with the collections sharks, let’s get back to making some ice tea and enjoying the backyard patio! The birds are in singing and having babies! The flowers are in full bloom! Butterflies are fluttering about! My friends, life’s too short to let a phone call ruin your day!
Live life richly today!
I don’t believe in the validity of the debt relief programs that promise to save you thousands of dollars by letting them manager your payments on outstanding debt.
I bet you have seen/heard the ads on TV and Radio promising you can participate in Obama’s stimulus bailouts by contacting the ABC Debt Solutions company and if you qualify you can to eliminate over $10,000 of credit card balances… blah blah blah. What you don’t know is that in most cases the consumer will end up with horrible credit records and will pay dearly in the long run with unexpected consequences.
If you possess high balances and are having trouble paying your minimums it would be much better you take control of your own situation. For instance please don’t ignore the phone! Either answer the collection calls or make the calls the creditors yourself. Be bold and preemptive. There are programs in place with most lenders to help with payment options during these tough times and all you have to do is ask. If the account is only recently past due you should be able to work something out to make your account current or at least work towards current status. This will save your credit score in the long run.
If you are already beyond missing a payment or two and your account is in collections or turned over to a third party company, you can certainly also take control and make an effort to begin addressing the situation. If the collection agency is calling you relentlessly you can use the cease and desist letter to call off the dogs. This action will require them to stop contacting/harassing you for the debt. As part of the letter you are stating you are contacting the original creditor and will be dealing with them directly. So you must call the original creditor and begin negotiating next steps.
Finally if the account is extremely beyond past due or is charged off by the creditor then you must contact the original creditor and begin talking about a settlement in return for a status change for this account within your credit files. This can be trickier but it can happen!
Keep in mind all of this should be done by you. You don’t need to hire someone to take control of your situation. If you follow these simple steps you can earn the satisfaction of self resolution and save valuable dollars along the way! For details on this and other strategies please go to my website at CreditMania.com.