Debt collectors can be a huge pain. (We know that’s an understatement; if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a debt collection agency’s calls, you know exactly what we’re talking about.) There are several ways you can push back against debt collectors, and this article outlines five of them.
Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers by prohibiting debt collectors from:
- Depositing post-dated checks early
- Making false statements or lying
- Publishing a list of people who owe them money
- Sending you mail that looks like official court or government documents
- Sending you postcards
- Taking your property (or threatening to take your property) unless the law permits it
- Threatening to take you to court unless their company intends to actually do it
- Threatening you with violence or harm
- Trying to collect interest or fees unless state law permits it
- Using obscene language
- Using the phone to annoy you
If a debt collector does any of these things, you could have grounds to sue for damages.
You can turn the tables on debt collectors who call you, too. Here’s how you can push back.
5 Ways to Push Back Against Debt Collectors
Sometimes debt collectors are required by law to stop calling you. In fact, if you hang up on a debt collector and he or she keeps calling you, that collection agent could be in violation of the FDCPA (and in that case, you could be entitled to damages). You can send a collection agency a cease and desist order, as well.
But you can turn the tables on collection agencies by using these five tips, as well.
#1. Ask to speak to a supervisor.
You have the right to ask to speak to a collection agent’s supervisor. If the collector has tried to intimidate you or has made threats, write down exactly what he or she said; talk to the supervisor, and write down his or her name as well as the response you get. If you have a record of these things, your consumer protection attorney may be able to use them when you sue.
#2. Ask for proof of the debt.
Tell the debt collector you need proof to support the claim that you owe money. You can request validation of the debt so you have time to figure out if it’s legitimate (and figure out how to pay it if you’re able). If the company refuses to verify the debt once you’ve asked, it may be breaking the law.
#3. Call the debt collector’s bluff.
If a debt collector is threatening legal action, think about this: Does it really make sense for the agency to sue you over a few hundred dollars? They’re banking (literally) on the fact that you don’t know whether they’ll really take you to court. Ask them if they have local counsel, which they’ll need to sue if they’re located out of state – and ask them for the attorney’s name. Remember, too, that debt collectors can’t threaten to take you to court unless they legitimately intend to do it.
#4. Tell them to get lost.
You have every right to tell a debt collector to get lost. Usually, it’s best to put your request in writing – that way, there’s a paper trail – but you can also ask them to stop calling over the phone. The debt collector can still sue you, but most collection agencies aren’t really in the litigation business, especially when it comes to small amounts of money; they’re in the business of calling you repeatedly. If the debt collector keeps calling you after you’ve told them to stop, you could have grounds to sue.
#5. Talk to a lawyer.
We may be able to help you get financial compensation if you’ve been harassed, lied to, or otherwise injured by a debt collector. Judges can require debt collectors to pay you for damages you’ve suffered due to their illegal collection practices (such as medical bills or lost wages), as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. You may also be able to collect punitive damages – money designed to punish the debt collector for bad behavior.
Call us immediately at 818-659-8324 or contact us online for a free case review. We’ll look over the facts and determine whether a debt collector likely violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act today.