Dealing with collectors can be one of the most dangerous aspects of paying off your debts for one simple reason:
When a collector calls and intimidates or threatens you, you may get so angry, afraid or upset that you change your priorities. You pay the credit card to stop the phone calls, but then you can’t pay the light bill.
First off, when trying to survive, don’t let a collector set your priorities. They only care about being paid, and they will literally say anything to get the money. They will threaten you with lawsuits, bankruptcy and even arrest. Whatever they say, don’t make your decisions based on fear. Fear does not lead to smart decisions; it leads to emotional ones, which are not in your best interest.
As you’re paying off your debt, focus on your Four Walls. This includes food, rent and utilities, transportation and clothing. After those are taken are of, you can focus on paying off debt and saving money. A sparkling credit report isn’t worth going without food, electricity or running water.
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Every month, before the month begins, make a budget when you are calm and thinking clearly. List your priorities on that budget. Check out our free budgeting tool to help you list those priorities! That way you know what gets paid first. And whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or harassed by a collector, pull up your budget. Remember that you made this spending plan based on actual numbers, not threats. If you stick to the budget, you will win. That light can guide you through dark times.
You have certain rights to not being harassed under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977. The act limits the contact a collector can have with you, so don’t put up with 50 phones calls a day or someone yelling or cussing at you. Hang up the phone if a collector gets rude. That keeps your emotions in check and your sanity intact.
Through all of this, remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Stick to your spending plan and, once you are out of debt, never treat debt as an option again. It may take a while, but things will improve.
Your collectors don’t decide what you do—you decide what you do. Take control. And for help with abusive collectors, check out Collection Bully on our website.