I know how to handle a bill collector. I’ve had a lot of experience with debt collectors. First, two things for you to know. I worked my way through college as a bill collector. For another, I’ve been a bankruptcy lawyer in the San Fernando Valley, CA for 34 years. Knowing how to handle a bill collector is my stock in trade. So, let’s talk about how make a bill collector “Shut Up!”
There are three kinds of bill collectors that you as a consumer will encounter. These are:
- Bill collectors who are bank employees. These guys will not give you a hard time. As a good example, think of a bank that has issued you a credit card. As soon as you become late, the bank will call you. These kind of collectors are NOT governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But that doesn’t matter. The debt collectors who are bank employees are going to be polite and respectful. They have to be. Genuine harassment by a debt collector is what we lawyers call “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” A bank that tolerates that kind of behavior is going to get sued for a lot of money. And, since they are a bank, the jury will award big bucks against them. Banks don’t want to be sued for giving you a nervous breakdown. So they train their employees to be nice. After a few months go by without payment, the bank will usually assign your debt to a third party debt collector.
- Bill collectors who are third party debt collectors. A third party debt collector is a collection agency. They are the agents for your original creditor. If they collect any money from you, they must share it with your original creditor. These guys are subject to the regulations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. They will get get tough with you, to a point. But they rarely cross the line. Just like banks, these guys do not want to be sued. This is the type of collector who is likely to threaten you with a lawsuit and a wage garnishment. This kind of creditor is also likely to be pushy and aggressive.
- Bill collectors who have bought your debt from your original creditor. Sleazy is a good way to describe these guys. They buy bad debts from banks, and then try to collect on those debts for themselves. For example, they might buy $500,000 of delinquent credit card debts for $20,000. Then they go to work collecting as much on them as they can. The reason I call them sleazy is because too many of these debt collectors will lie and deceive you. For example, they often try to collect on debts that are already time barred by the statutes of limitation. They often lie to you, such as telling you that the bankruptcy law does not apply to them.
You can shut down an abusive bill collector very easily. Let’s assume you have already spoken to the collector, so you recognize the phone number. Go ahead and answer the call. Announce who you are, and tell the collector that you are RECORDING the call. Say that, even if you’re not really recording it. But make the collector think you are. It is perfectly legal to record a call provided you tell the other party you are doing so. (After all, they record THEIR calls, right?) A collector who has previously abused you with foul language or inappropriate threats will not do so again if they think they are being recorded.
You need an exit strategy from your debt problem.
Handling the collector is easy. But it does not make the debt go away. You are likely to be sued, and face a wage garnishment or bank levy for a debt that you validly owe. Debt settlement is a good method, if you have the money to make cash deals with a creditor. The problem is that a debt settlement does not restore your credit. And, you might owe income taxes on the amount of debt that gets forgiven. Get legal advice before you commit yourself to anything.
You can get free legal advice from a bankruptcy lawyer.
Almost all consumer bankruptcy attorneys offer free advice. To get first class legal guidance, make an office appointment. You will rarely get the the professional time you need by trying to get it on the telephone.
For free legal advice, call Jeff Wishman or Leon Bayer. We are bankruptcy lawyers with 33 years each of experience.