As anyone who is considering filing for bankruptcy knows, the constant beratement debtors receive from debt collectors can be extremely stressful. No one enjoys repeated phone calls from mysterious numbers with voice messages containing cryptic messages. These phone calls can come at extremely inconvenient times, and cause even more anxiety during an already trying time. In fact, the numerous phone calls and collections attempts are often what leads many people to file for bankruptcy. However, with this in mind, there are a few things to know when speaking to a debt collector that can help you understand your rights and their motivations.
1. Debt collectors are not under oath when speaking to you over the phone. While there are some regulations on what they can and cannot say, debt collectors are likely to use strong language to convince you of the importance and magnitude of your unpaid debt. They often times use threats and harsh words to convince you to pay your debts.
2. Debt collectors are far less interested in negotiating terms that work for your budget. They are interested in terms that result in the collection of your debt as quickly as possible. Offering you an affordable repayment plan is not something they are typically interested in.
3. Debt collectors are typically not sympathetic to your personal story or situation. Even though you may be in the middle of a very difficult time in your life, that does not matter to them; they are only interested in the amount of money you owe them, and how they are going to receive it from you. It is a waste of time to spend energy trying to explain your situation to certain debt collectors, and unfortunately, it can sometimes complicate matters by divulging too much information.
4. Debt Collectors are trained to associate your lack of payment as a lack of personal character, and they will use this in an attempt to collect from you. Making you feel bad for not paying your debt is a tactic often used to expedite receiving money. It is important to remember not to take these kinds of tactics to heart; the debt collector is just trying to receive money from you.
5. Collection agencies have often purchased your debt at a discount from your original creditor. This means that if you pay your debt in full, or even a portion of it, they will receive a profit. Because of this, you may have more room to negotiate a settlement rate than you might have expected.
6. You cannot go to jail for not paying your debt, with the exception of taxes, child support, or a court ordered payment. Fear is a sales tactic in the business of debt collection, nothing more, nothing less. Often, we have clients who contact our office in tears because they think they are about to be arrested for not paying on a certain loan, etc. Many debt collectors use the threat of jail and arrest warrants to scare individuals into paying their debts. Again, this is just a threat- your creditor cannot arrest you for not paying them. They may be able to pursue legal action, such as receiving a judgment against you (which enables them to garnish wages), but you will not be sent to jail.
7. Your debt may be past the statute of limitations, which means it could be past terms for a garnishment or execution of a judgment. While the debt may still linger on your credit report, the debt collector may be trying to collect on a debt in which you can no longer be successfully sued from a creditor for in court. It is important to check your credit reports and records for dates on when certain debts were incurred. Doing your research can help you in the long run.
The most important thing to remember when you are receiving constant phone calls and threatening letters from debt collectors is that there are attorneys who will talk to you free of charge about your situation. An attorney has many years of schooling and experience, and will be able to help you understand your rights and options. You should always consider your sources when understanding your personal rights; an attorney is much more likely to tell you the correct information regarding your rights as opposed to someone who is attempting to collect money from you. As stated before, doing your research will only help you in the long run.
While these tips on handling debt collection tactics are important to remember, it is also important to note that filing for bankruptcy is generally the only way to guarantee your debt collectors will not continue to contact you. Filing for bankruptcy will automatically force your creditors to no longer contact you in collection attempts. If you are in a situation where you cannot continue to pay your debts and would like to file for bankruptcy, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today for information.