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Handle Collection Calls

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Debt collection agencies have your number? It can feel like harassment even when it is not, but knowing how to handle those calls can save you a lot of grief. First, find out about legal debt collection and The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). You can get the full PDF file online. Armed with this knowledge you can identify illegal debt collection practices and protect yourself and your family and acquaintances against them. You can even turn them to your advantage by negotiating the debt down to something you can live with. Debt collectors are known for their abusive behavior as it is, and the because of current economic downturn, many of them have crossed the line into illegal and unfair collection practices.

Ideas on How to Handle Collection Calls

  • First of all, don’t offer any information as to whether the bill is yours. For example, if the debt collector asks you why you are delinquent on a debt, you may ask the amount of the debt in question, but do not say “how much do I owe”, thereby admitting the debt is yours. You owe them nothing in way of an explanation as to why the debt is delinquent either, which would also be admitting debt is yours. Even if the debt is yours, you do not owe them any explanations. Stay calm, and do not offer even the smallest payment until they provide validation of the debt. Do not accept any kind of proposed payment plan. Never give out any of your personal financial information, such as your driver’s license number, social security number, check numbers, credit card number, debit card number or bank account number. If they threaten you with garnishment of wages, end the conversation and write down what was said to the best you can recall. That is illegal and you are entitled to sue them for $1000 plus court costs in either state or federal court. Small claims anyone?
  • Try to set the tone of the conversation. Be polite, and understand that you need to have boundaries. If the collector gets rude or nasty, simply say, “This conversation will cease immediately unless you speak to me in a polite manner”. If the collector does not agree, hang up and document the call. When they call back, and they will call back, only speak to them if they treat you with respect. If the same collector is calling you every day, do not pick up the phone, but keep a record of each call. You could tell them that you will speak to them once a week or whenever your situation changes or when you have more money for them. These boundaries ensure that the calls are productive and not harassment. Calling you at work is illegal if you have told them not to do so, and you can report them and sue.
  • Once you have established some boundaries, and have satisfactory validation of the debt, you can try discussing the debt and negotiate a debt settlement yourself. Ask if they will accept the amount you presently have available. Of course, this will not work if you do not have the specified amount on hand. Companies, many times, would rather collect something than nothing at all.
  • If a settlement is reached, do not send any money until you have received their debt settlement offer in writing that states that the agreed on dollar amount is payment in full for the debt. When you receive it, make sure you keep it. Another collector may try to collect on it or the debt collection agency may conveniently forget that you paid. Send a money order and keep your receipt.


There are other paths you can take in dealing with debt relief. Getting the collector to validate and verify the debt can be an effective tool for you. There are also ways to make them stop calling you. Both of these topics are discussed on our website.

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