However, if you're someone who carefully monitors all of your bills closely and you know you haven’t missed any payments, always be both polite and assertive when a bill collector contacts you. Keep in mind that even debt collectors make mistakes and be ready to stand your ground.
Tips for Remaining Assertive When Accused of Owing Back Debts
- While still on the phone, never volunteer any personal data to the caller. This person may not even be a debt collector. If asked to verify your Social Security number or driver's license number, tell the person you cannot do so since you cannot verify their identity;
- If a debt collector becomes abusive – either immediately hang up or tell the caller if you believe you could possibly owe anything -- and then state that you fully understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If the person refuses to interact with you in a civil manner, ask to speak to a supervisor;
- Always obtain the caller's full name, the name of his/her collection agency and the full address of the office the person is calling from. Also request the individual's direct phone line and personal extension number;
- Ask what creditor of yours gave this agency the legal right to call you. Find out if your alleged debt was sold to this agency or if your creditor still holds a legal interest in the debt;
- If the debt collector has previously tried to reach you at work. Be sure to point out that the agency has no legal right to contact you at the office any further – and also note, they obviously know how to reach you at home;
- If the collector has previously spoken to other family members or neighbors about your alleged debt, note that you're aware of your rights under the FDCPA -- and that all future contact, if any, must only involve you personally. Tell the person you’re keeping (and make sure to do so to protect yourself) a written diary regarding all debt collector contacts;
- State that you know you have the legal right to receive a written letter informing you of the exact amount that you owe – along with a clear indication as to how the debt came about. If you're certain you own nothing at all – say so;
- If you're planning to contact a lawyer about the matter or have already done so, tell your caller that they can no longer contact you directly and that all future calls must be placed directly to your attorney;
- Since some states allow you to tape-record telephone calls when both parties know this is being done – ask your caller to refrain from calling you further – unless he/she agrees to provide you with taped permission to tape all future calls. Most debt collectors will refuse to allow this – yet you should feel free to remind them that their own phone calls normally indicate to you that they’re taping the conversation. If permission to tape the calls is refused, remind the caller that all future contact must only occur in writing. (It's a good idea to keep a taping device available when you accept any phone calls);
- Again—as noted above—just hang up if you’re being treated abusively.
If you believe any debt collector has violated your rights under the FDCPA – or need to check on exactly what your rights are – be sure to call your Peachtree City consumer protection attorney immediately to learn what steps you should take to protect your rights. You should also consider alerting the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about any negative encounters with debt collectors – after discussing such possible measures with your lawyer. These types of reports can help protect others from future unprofessional contact.
If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.