|by Brooke Kaelin|
Collection calls can be some of the most distressing, evil things on the planet. The only thing worse than having a creditor hound you repeatedly is having them contact your friends, family, and employer on your behalf.
If you are receiving collection calls at home or at work and want them to stop, then there are two things you can do.
1) Make a payment arrangement and stick to it. If your account goes past 30 days overdue, then it will be assigned to the collections department, and they will begin to call you. The best way to handle things is to set up a concrete repayment plan and stick to it. Try to avoid losing your temper. The people on the other end of the phone have likely been yelled at several times already that day – before they ever even called you.
The good news is, they have a lot of power to help you if you will let them. Instead of avoiding the calls, ask the collection representative what they can do for you. Collection officers are usually authorized to:
- Set up payment plans.
- Remove fees like late and over the limit charges.
- Begin the process of investigating a claim.
If you have no money and can’t make a payment for a month, tell them that. Ask them what kind of repayment plan they can put you on. Being proactive when the collection calls happen will actually keep them from calling you back. Avoiding the calls will only cause them to be more resourceful. Instead of simply calling your house or cell phone, they will begin to track you down at work, and any other number they can get their hands on.
Whatever you do, stick to any agreement you make with them. If you default on a second repayment plan, you are going to be right back where you started.
But what if you are already waaaay past that point? If you are in serious financial trouble and you have creditors calling everyone you know (and believe me it happens to people more often than you might think) then you need to know your rights.
2) Avoiding your creditors is never going to be a sound financial decision. However if that is the path you need to take then be aware of your laws within section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):
Unless you consent or a court order allows it, debt collectors may not call to collect a debt from you:
- At any time or place which is unusual or inconvenient to you.
- If they know you are represented by a lawyer.
- At work if your employer does not allow it.
Collection officers are also not allowed to call your friends and family if they already know your location. That is why it is so vital that you pick up the phone and talk to them, even if you can’t pay them anything. It will prevent all the other legal forms of harassment
So, to make it short and sweet, if you want them to stop calling you at work, tell them your boss does not allow it. If you want them to stop calling your family and friends, talk to them and confirm the number where they can reach you.
If things get really ugly, there is one more thing you can do. You can send a registered letter that refuses to pay the debt and instructs them to cease all communication with you. By law, once they receive that letter they must stop attempting to contact you, and that will keep them from harassing you at work, or calling your friends and family. Be aware though, that this is a refusal to pay the debt, and that is likely just a one way ticket to a court date or a wage garnishment.
For a sample cease and desist letter click here.