Most people dread the moment when an unlisted number pops up on our phones. We don’t know who is on the other end, so we tend to let it go to voicemail. There may even be a moment of panic before we listen to the voicemail.
It’s a daily experience for those suffering from debt. They can receive dozens of calls from debt collectors or creditors who are looking for their money. They may even rely on unethical tactics to ensure you are intimidated enough to make their payments.
But you don’t have to stand by.
There are ways to address debt collectors over the phone and still hold onto your dignity in the process:
- Don’t give in to pressure – many creditors will pressure you (even on the first call) for their payments. They may threaten legal action or other behaviors until they receive their payments. However, do not give in to pressure if you aren’t financially prepared. You need to make smart decisions for you and your wallet, so don’t promise or give in to their collectors’ demands.
- Be active during the conversation – most adults will just listen to the collector and allow them to bully them during the discussion. However, you have every right to be active in the conversation. Ask for details about the firm, the creditor and the amount. Ask for a breakdown of your bill and any account numbers tied to the debt. Information is powerful in these situations, so gather as much of it as possible.
- Know your rights – creditors cannot behave however they like. There are still guidelines and restrictions that collectors must follow during these phone calls. Make sure you are fully aware of illegal tactics under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and file compliant if your rights are violated.
- Set up a plan afterward – if you are still processing after the call, determine a game plan for future calls. You may want to negotiate an agreement on older debts or restructure a repayment plan. If you do anything over the phone, make sure also to receive a written document to protect yourself and your money.
Do not let collectors dig under your skin. If you do, that makes them win. Instead, know your rights and use them to your advantage if you’re comfortable. If you’re not, you may want to look into alternative options that will reduce debt while stopping harassing creditors.