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It’s a sad fact that debt collectors often resort to abuse to get their hands on your money. In fact, that’s why there is a law to curb the mistreatment.
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 dictates how a debt collector can interact with you. But since so many people do not know their rights, collectors violate them wholesale. Even worse, a collector will lie, bluff and intimidate in order to get the money. Here are some common ways they do it:
Threats of garnishment/criminal action.
If someone calls you and threatens to garnish your wages before you even receive your paycheck, it’s a lie (unless it’s for a student loan or taxes). They have to sue you first, and that can take months.
Calling too late or too early.
The law states that a collector can only call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your time zone unless they have your permission. If they wake you up at an absurd hour, you are more likely to be emotional and more likely to pay. You might consider silencing your phone or turning the ringer off.
Calling your neighbors or employers.
Collectors cannot reveal who they are with or why they are calling. If they let that information slip, they risk a lawsuit by revealing private financial information to a third party. But their plan is to embarrass you in front of others so that you’ll get angry and pay them.
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Not putting it in writing.
If a collector offers to settle the debt but won’t put it in writing, watch out—they will clean out your account. Let’s say your bill is $2,000, and you have $1,500 in your account. The collector says over the phone that if you give them your bank information, they will take out $500 a month for the next four months and you’ll be squared away. But if you don’t get that promise in writing, they’ll take everything and leave you with no money to pay your other bills. Then they’ll resume the calls next month about the $500 you still owe them.
Ultimately, the way to deal with collectors is to get on a budget and pay off what you owe. No debt means no collector calls. When they get you angry with their abuse, use that as motivation to get out of debt and never go back.
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