Clients considering a bankruptcy filing all want to know the same thing: how do I put a stop to collections calls? The answer is that filing bankruptcy will legally put a stop to all attempts at collecting, whether by phone or mail. In the meantime, here are five things you should know about your rights when it comes to collections calls:
1. Debt collectors CAN NOT make false or misleading statements to you regarding your debt.
TIP: Keep track of threats made during collections calls by keeping a notepad near your phone. Your notes may serve as the basis for a legal action against the collections agency down the road.
2. Once you tell a debt collector not to call you at work, they must abide by that request.
TIP: Draft a form letter requesting that you not be called at work regarding your bill. Leave a blank for your account number and the name of the creditor. Keep a few copies on hand. The next time you get a bill, send in the letter with the account number written on it. Do this until each account has received a letter. Make note of when you submitted the request, and make note of any later calls you receive at work.
3. It is a violation of your personal right to privacy for a debt collector to speak with another individual (other than your spouse) about your debt, whether during a collections call or by mail.
TIP: If someone you know alerts you to this activity, ask for details about the call (Time, Date, Remarks made).
4. Debt collectors must treat you with civility. They can tell you the nature of the call, request payment, and let you know of their next steps if payment is not made. They can not use abusive language or harass you over the phone or by mail.
TIP: Keep track of SPECIFIC words and phrases used during collections calls. Most abusive activity takes place over the phone. Get the name of the individual you are speaking with, and write it down. Your lawyer will need this information if action is taken against the creditor.
5. Collections calls aside, any information reported to credit bureaus must be accurate and truthful.
TIP: Obtain a credit report once a year and immediately alert a creditor if they have reported inaccurate information about your payment history or the amount you owe. Follow up with them in 30 days. If no action is taken, call an attorney.
If you’d like to find out how to make collections calls STOP, call 704.749.7747 for more information. If filing a bankruptcy is the best choice for you, I hope you’ll trust me to assist with that process and help you move forward peacefully. Things CAN change.