Having debt in your name can be a serious problem and a major source of stress. This is especially the case if you have a large amount of debt with awful interest rates. Whatever debt you have against you, perhaps you chose to ignore it or were simply unable to pay the money. So what do you do next?
Debt collection is difficult to accomplish, which is why most companies that you owe money to will sell your debt to a debt collection agency who will then begin to bother you. Collection agencies have one main goal in mind: to get as much money as they possibly can. They resort to almost any means in order to do so, which is likely why you now want to get rid of them. Debt collectors are a huge nuisance, and usually are not the best people either, using threats, intimidation tactics, and generally poor behaviour to get money out of you.
Keep in mind that debt collectors are not immune to laws or rules. Debt collectors know the rules they are supposed to follow, but many choose not to so that their job becomes easier for them. Whether you have a legitimate debt to your name, you were the victim of identity theft, or you were mistaken for someone else, there are several ways to get rid of debt collectors. Read on to find out how!
1. Talk with the debt collector.
There is no point in flaring up with the debt collector unnecessarily. They likely expect this reaction from you. If the debt does not belong to you and you blow up at them, you will look as guilty as anything, and they are sure to pester you further. Before you slam the door in your face, try and get as much information as you possibly can from them. Does the debt actually belong to you?
There is no use getting stressed from making yourself mad, especially if the debt is not yours. Asking the debt collector is a useful strategy for several reasons. Have them provide you with specific details, like who the debt belongs to, what company the debt is from, and how much money is owed. Once you have this information you are prepared for the next stage.
2. Does the debt belong to someone else?
Once you have the information by the debt collector you might realize that the debt isn’t yours. Never heard of Claude Johnson, have you? The debt collector might have the wrong address or phone number, or Claude Johnson might have moved or changed their number that you now have. What a nuisance!
Naturally, you should never pay off a debt that doesn’t belong to you. That is one of the worst ways to get rid of a debt collector!
Ignoring the calls forever isn’t a good idea, however. Debt collectors are naturally persistent and will simply continue to call you. They will not stop calling until they get a response from you, and they might even file a lawsuit in extreme cases if you continue to ignore them.
What you should do instead is to write a letter to the collection agency to say that their calls are harassing you. Inform them in writing that if their calls continue, you will take a page out of their book and file a lawsuit against them, focusing on harassment.
3. Does the debt belong to you?
If you have confirmed that the debt is indeed yours, your next step is to arrange an appointment or take up correspondence with the debt collectors by mail. If you plan on paying your debt back, making an appointment is the fastest way to get rid of debt collectors. If you plan on avoiding them, insist that they get in contact with you by mail.
Informing your debt collector of your particular stance is a smart decision. Doing so by mail is your best solution, because you control the pace of the interaction. If they continue to call you, informing them that you will only respond to a written request will help them get off your case (and your phone line). Feel free to reference some local or national legislation while you are at it for good measure.
If phone calls are your preferred method, then try dictating the time that they happen. Debt collectors are not making a mistake when they call your house at five in the morning: they want to annoy you as much as they can. Instruct the collector to only call you during set times that are convenient for you, like after work at some point during the evening.
Laws in most areas protect your privacy against intimidation tactics from these companies, so there is no reason for debt collectors to be calling without permission at home, at work, or when you are asleep.
Always remember that debt collectors are not above the law. If you feel that they have overstepped their bounds, don’t be shy to say so, because they certainly will continue to threaten you, use profanities, or try and use tricky methods to force you to pay. If debt collectors continue to use these tactics, you may have grounds for a harassment lawsuit.
4. Pay the debt back.
Paying the debt back is likely the fastest and best way to get rid of a debt collector. If you have decided to pay your debt, be sure to get as much information as you possibly can from them. Recall the amount of money that you owe, and make sure that you inquire about interest rates, any penalties, or other charges that you owe.
Of course, the amount you are required to pay will likely be higher than the original debt. But this does not mean that you will have to pay back the entire amount! You can negotiate with the debt collectors to try and lower the amount you have to pay. Some debt collectors are satisfied with almost any amount, although they would of course prefer to be paid in full.
If you are having trouble with this negotiation process, consider bringing in some outside legal help. Once debt collectors have you in a negotiation process, they might try to pull some fast tricks to get you to sign some documents or agree to pay even more money than you initially thought. Don’t let this happen! A lawyer might be worth the investment, especially if you have a significant amount of debt to tackle.
5. Don’t pay the debt.
Once you have mailed something to the debt collectors, they may not even try to contact you any longer, especially for smaller debts that they might not consider to be worth their time. Keep in mind that this strategy is not ideal, of course, especially if you need to make a bank loan or a major purchase in your future. Banks have access to your credit information, and old debts can come back to haunt you in the future.