‘Win the Battle’ Excerpt
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from “WIN the Battle with Debt Collectors!“, volume 5 of my 5-volume Simple Guides series. Part of typical debt collection strategy is for the collector to become a huge nuisance in the debtor’s life. And whether a collector’s favored tactics to become a nuisance are legal is not something many collectors think about, at all.
If you’re inspired to read more after reading the excerpt, click on the link above or at the end of the excerpt.
And if you’d like to read any Simple Guide but cannot afford the modest price, I’ll consider emailing you a free digital copy if you send me a note and explain your circumstances. Really! I’m probably easier than you think. 🙂 Also, if you’re Amazon Prime and have a Kindle device, you can borrow for free any Simple Guide from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
“WIN the Battle with Debt Collectors!” Excerpt:
How to Communicate with Debt Collectors (without Going Mad)
Debt collectors come to work every day assuming that debtors can pay, but choose not to. They know nearly all debtors have income that they are spending somewhere. Collectors see their mission as persuading debtors to cut back spending on something else and instead send money to them.
The Nuisance Contest
A debt collector’s typical persuasion strategy is to become a huge nuisance in debtors’ lives. Chief among their tactics are to embarrass, intimidate, scare, cajole, threaten, and harass debtors into making at least a partial payment. And just in case other creditors are also pressuring you about other overdue debts, each debt collector aims to be a bigger nuisance than every other creditor that may be in contact with you. You would be the unhappy subject of a nuisance contest among debt collectors. Not fun.
If you have debt in collections, a collector likely has called you. So you know what I’m talking about.
You Don’t Have to Talk to Debt Collectors
I have great news for you: no law requires that you take phone calls from a debt collector.
You do not have to talk to any debt collector who phones you. And my advice is that you do not take their calls, except to ask that their communications be in writing. Change your phone number if you have to, but don’t take their calls.
I can think of no circumstance when it would be to your advantage to talk to a debt collector on the phone instead of through the postal mail. Most debtors find these conversations extremely stressful. Though the agent may fake sympathy or play the “good cop” to a colleague’s “bad cop” in that well-worn tactic, the debt collector could not care less about any hardship you may have experienced or your money challenges. You would be foolish to trust anything the collector says. Any deal you make on the phone with a debt collector is almost certainly nothing more than a tactic to get you to make a partial payment, now. Later the collector can deny any knowledge of a deal or make an excuse why he or she can’t follow through.
The bottom line when it comes to talking to debt collectors by phone: just don’t do it! Ask for all communication to be in writing.
But if you choose to talk with debt collectors by phone or text, I have created an ActionSheet™ you can use to document the conversation. Documentation of this type could prove useful in supporting a court case or complaint against a law-breaking debt collector. Visit the ActionSheets™ chapter near the end of this guide for a link to download this aid.
Correspondence you get in the postal mail is another matter. You should open all the postal mail you get that might be about your debts. If you are sued, you will get a legal notice directly from the court in the postal mail. A letter from a debt collector threatening or announcing a lawsuit may well be a false threat and is best ignored. But do not ignore correspondence from the court.
If a debt collector is able to get your email address, my advice is the same as for phone calls. Ideally, set up your email program to delete immediately emails from the debt collector’s email address. That way you will never see them. These messages will only stress you out, and nothing trustworthy or important will come to you by email from a debt collector. By ignoring these sorts of message, you will only be missing out on more stress.
Communicate in Writing
Every message you need to receive or from get to a debt collector should be in writing sent by postal mail. And though it’s costly, use certified mail and get a return receipt. Otherwise the collector can claim it never received your letter, and you could not prove otherwise.
Debt Collectors Now Using Social Media
Many debt collectors have no compunction about contacting debtors’ family members, employers, and friends to let them know that you owe a debt you’re not repaying. Now they are using this strategy on social media.
The FDCPA was written before social media were invented, so whether the Act’s constraints on what debt collectors can and cannot legally do apply to social media is being debated in the courts.
Do a Web search for “Facebook debt collection”. The results will scare the heck out of you.
Do your Facebook settings allow Friends to post on your timeline? Then be careful who you ‘friend.’ That friend request may be a debt collector impersonating a normal person or even someone you know. Agree to the friendship and all of your FB friends may soon be aware—through the impostor’s posts on your timeline—of your delinquency on a debt you owe. Or how would you feel about receiving messages from debt collectors in your Facebook message in-box?
And how tough is it for someone to discover your Twitter handle? Even the Neanderthal types who tend toward careers in debt collection are bright enough to tweet: “Hey Twitterverse: If you know @KurtFischer57, ask him to contact George at We Collect Debts, Inc. about his account.” How would you feel if such a tweet appeared in your Twitter mentions?
If you are on Facebook, you can change your settings so that no one but you can post to your timeline. If that’s too severe, then at the least allow only your Facebook friends to post, and be extremely careful about who you friend. Even if a new friend request appears to be from someone you know, it could be a debt collector impersonating that friend. Contact the friend first and ask whether he or she sent the request.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to prevent a Twitter user from sending a tweet mentioning your Twitter handle. If a debt collector can zero in on your Twitter handle, then to prevent embarrassing tweets from the collector mentioning your handle the best you can do is try to make it impossible to connect you to your Twitter handle. Or close your Twitter account entirely.
Debt collectors are very creative in inventing new ways to do what they do best: embarrass, intimidate, scare, cajole, threaten, and harass. If you have overdue debts, you must be on your guard!
Takeaways: How to Communicate with Debt Collectors
- Communicate with a debt collector only at times and by means of your choosing.
- Change your phone number if collector calls are a nuisance.
- Tighten your social media privacy and security settings to avoid public embarrassment.
- Open all postal correspondence that may be about your debts. Only a legal notice directly from the court is reliable evidence that you are being sued.
To Learn More
- For a short account of a particularly nasty debt collector tactic, read “Debt Collectors Cruise Facebook”.
To learn more about defending your rights and protecting your self-esteem when battling debt collectors, click the image below!