Few aspects of life produce more anxiety than dealing with collections calls. The taboo this society places on debt — despite how many Americans carry it — and the inferences of inadequacy unfairly projected onto people who have trouble managing it can combine into a rather volatile cocktail of worry and shame.
Debt collectors are well aware of this and many choose to leverage it to tilt the table in their favor. The goal is to rewire the way you think so as to make their need a priority over your own. This is why it’s important to keep your cool with debt collectors — well, one of the reasons anyway.
Make Them Prove the Debt Is Yours
Even if you feel you know the debt to which they’re referring is one you owe, do not take responsibility for it on their first call. There is a very real possibility the debt is too old for them to take you to court to induce you to pay. However, if it is and you admit to responsibility for it, the clock restarts and their right to litigation is reinstated.
Taking the call with a cool head will better enable you to tell them you have no recollection of such an obligation, but you are interested in helping them get to the bottom of the situation. Ask them to please send you any evidence they have of the debt — such as the original promissory note. You’ll also want to get the name and a direct phone number for the person contacting you. Tell them you’d appreciate it if they refrained from contacting you again until they get notification you’ve received the documentation you’re requesting.
You’re Just Numbers on a Page to Them
Some collectors enjoy raining havoc down on people they perceive to be “deadbeats” who shirk contractual obligations. It doesn’t occur to them you may have lost your job, suffered a debilitating medical condition or encountered some other unfortunate circumstance.
Nor, quite frankly, do some of them care — despite the fact these things do happen, as illustrated in these Freedom Debt Relief reviews. What they want is the money, and they’ll get it by any means necessary.
Fortunately though, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act protects you from harassment, verbal abuse and threats of physical and emotional violence by collections professionals. However, you must file a claim when you feel you’re being subjected to these sorts of behaviors — and you have to prove it happened.
You’ll Need to Gather Evidence
Because your claim must be supported by materials demonstrating the behaviors you cite, you’re going to need to keep your wits about you to gather it. As we mentioned above, never accept responsibility for the debt right away. Tell them to get back to you after they’ve sent evidence of your responsibility.
Download an app that will enable you to record phone calls in the interim. You’ll also want to set up a file within which you keep email and text message correspondences between you. Keep every piece of physical correspondence as well.
Tell them you’re recording — each time they call — and do not accept a call if they won’t consent to being recorded. Keep in mind those recordings could be played back in court one day. A judge is going to have more sympathy for you If you sound rational, polite, professional and willing to be helpful — while the collections agent sounds rude, abrasive and abusive.
Keeping your cool with debt collectors can be difficult. However, it’s of paramount importance when it comes to ensuring you get the best possible outcome. And, if worst comes to worst, you’ll have evidence of their malfeasances as well.