What to do when a debt collector calls

Do you feel like you are drowning in debt? You are in good company. A recent report showed that about 77 million people across the country have a debt in collections. While that statistic is interesting, it may not bring comfort when the phone rings.

If you have missed a certain number of payments on a debt, the creditor may have sold your account to a debt collector. When collectors begin to contact you, they may use some pretty aggressive tactics.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it illegal for debt collectors to use these tricks:

  • Calling when or if you have told them not to contact you
  • Cursing
  • Intimidating you with threats of violence or untrue consequences if you don't pay
  • Deceiving you about who they are or why they are calling
  • Lying about the amount of money you owe

Your attorney can advise you about any additional consumer protections offered specifically in Texas, as well as help you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you feel collectors have broken the law when they contacted you.

Don't be shamed into making a hasty decision

Falling behind on your payments can be embarrassing. You may have tried your best to keep up, but circumstances are not always in your control. Credit collectors capitalize on your shame and use it to pressure you into sending money. If you make a payment the first time a debt collector contacts you, you may complicate your situation.

Any money you send to a collector verifies that the debt is valid and that you admit to owing it. This may not always be the case. Collectors do not always receive accurate information about the account when it is passed on to them. Before you send money, request that the collector send you information about the debt.

In addition, the debt may have passed the statute of limitations for collection, and making a payment may reset its validation. When a collector makes contact with you, get as much information as you can from the caller, then gather your own facts about the debt and any past payments you made before you offer any promises about future payments.

Knowledge is your best defense

You may be tempted to ignore the problem because it feels too overwhelming to manage. However, if you know your rights, you will be able to act in a way that will bring positive results instead of risking deeper trouble. The best advice will come from an attorney who is passionate about helping his clients out of debt and enabling them to move forward into a less stressful future.

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