QUESTION: Travis in San Antonio is receiving calls from debt collectors, and the calls are freaking his wife out. Travis doesn't know how to convince her that they're just blowing smoke. Dave tells him about the games collectors play with you.
ANSWER: You can teach this to your wife: They play on your emotions. They know that when you are emotional, you're not making good decisions. When you are angry or afraid, you don't make good decisions, and I don't either.
When we were going broke, American Express called my wife and asked why she would stay with a man who wouldn't pay his bills. She called me at the office crying and saying that she was thinking that same thing. It's funny now, but 25 years ago I was one angry guy. I was ready to drive down there and whip somebody who talks to my wife that way. I got so mad I paid them. Who won that exchange? He did.
We had one other bill with them and we started learning how collectors work and how their job is to create emotion by whatever method they want to use. You must realize that this is a game to them; it's psychological warfare. Once my wife and I realized we had been played like that, then the next time they called and started that routine, my wife told him to not get his panties in wad. When we get some money, we'll pay you. Then she hung up on him. By then, she got the idea that this was a game.
You have to teach your wife that this is an idiot in a cubicle 500 miles away that couldn't get a better job. In most cases, they violate federal law on a daily basis; in particular the credit card collections side of things. There are some good collectors who abide by the law, but not many. In the credit card world, there are none of them. They are just scum. They will tell a little kid that they will take his toys if his mother doesn't get on the phone.
They are scum. We deal with Discover, First Card, Chase, Bank of America and others. You can tell they are lying if their mouths are moving. They are scum, and you've got to realize that's what you're dealing with. It's a highly profitable piece of their business. Because it's unsecured debt, they have very little power over you, particularly in your state of Texas because they can't do much by getting a lien against you. They can't garnish your wages or take your house.
You have all kinds of protection from them, so all they can do is yell at you and make you believe they are going to take your oldest child and hold them in a vault or something. If they threatened to take your children and you were able to record it, you need to sue them because you can probably get the whole debt forgiven at that point because they violated federal law. That is an illegal act to threaten something like that.
There is a wonderful new website we're endorsing called Collection Bully. This is a group of attorneys who will sue on behalf of someone who has been abused by a collector that is violating federal law. I would start recording these calls as often as possible because you'll need the evidence to turn over to someone and get some help on this.
The biggest thing is to get in a position where you can start paying these bills and get rid of them. But in the meantime, you have to teach your wife that these people are liars. If there is breath passing their vocal cords and making a sound, it's a lie. You've got to start with that, because in Texas, they aren't going to do squat to you.
I'm not telling you that so you don't pay your bills, and you're not asking that so you don't have to pay your bills. You're not talking to humans—you're talking to a barking dog on the end of a chain who doesn't have any brains left.