Your phone rings and you see a call from an unfamiliar number. You answer, only to be confronted about a bill they claim you haven’t paid. Confused, you’re not sure what to say. Read on to find out how you should handle a call like this.
Is the Debt Collector Breaking the Law?
The first thing to decide is whether this is even a legal call. I talk a lot on my website about harassment from debt collectors. That’s because it’s illegal for a debt collector to harass you—even if you owe the debt—and you can sue for damages. So, with our example call: Is he calling late at night? Is he threatening you? Is he using profane language? If he is doing any of these things, it is considered harassment and you should record the call and contact my office as soon as possible.
If it Is Not Debt Collection Harassment, Take These Steps
If the caller is professional-sounding and is calling at a reasonable time, remain calm and take the following steps:
- Don’t hang up. Most people’s gut reaction is to hang up when they get a call they don’t particularly want. The problem with this is that it won’t fix the problem. Either you owe the debt and need to figure out what to do about it, or you don’t owe and need to do something to clear it up. Stay on the phone and ask some questions.
- Gather information. Ask the debt collector who they are collecting for and how much you owe. Don’t argue or dispute the claim at this point. Write down the information and tell them to also send you the information in writing along with instructions for disputing the debt. It’s possible that they are contacting you in error, so also ask for the exact name of the person they are trying to contact and any other details they can tell you.
- Limit your response. Do not argue with the caller or admit that you owe the debt, and absolutely do not give out financial information or a credit card number over the phone.
- Keep track of calls. Write down the date and time of the call. If you have requested that details be sent to you, you should receive it within a week. If the calls become excessive and you don’t receive written confirmation, the collector may have crossed the line to harassment.
Once you receive information in the mail, you can take the next steps. Either you have to figure out a way to settle or pay the debt or you, if it is not your debt, you will need to dispute it.
When I Can Help With Debt Collection Harassment
If the collector is harassing you, call me at 415.802.0137 and not only will I will put a stop to it, you may be able to sue for damages. Owing money does not make you a bad person. You don’t have to be pushed around by debt collectors. Call me before it gets out of control!