A call from a debt collector may not be something you anticipate. Thus, when a debt collector does get in touch with you, it’s possible you might not know what to say.
Choosing your words and statements carefully is of the utmost importance when speaking with a debt collector. Examples of what you should NOT say during these exchanges include:
Don’t Say the Debt is Valid
Never admit to a debt collector that you owe the money they’re asking for. First of all, it’s entirely possible that you don’t owe the debt. You may need time to investigate the matter further before confirming whether a debt collector is even in the right.
Additionally, if a debt collector contacts you over the phone, it’s possible they’re a scammer. You don’t want to accidentally engage with someone who’s merely pretending to be a genuine debt collector in an attempt to rip you off.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have the right to ask for written notice of debt. Said notice should provide you with thorough information about how to verify the debt. Instead of simply telling a debt collector the debt is valid, ask them to provide verification first.
Don’t Promise to Make a Payment
Promising to make a payment is essentially another way of confirming the debt is valid. Even if you’re confident the debt is valid, be aware that you may nevertheless be able to negotiate with the debt collector for more reasonable payment terms. If you make an offer right away when speaking with a debt collector, you could prevent yourself from negotiating effectively in the future.
Don’t Offer Financial Information
Again, until you’ve completed the debt verification process and a debt collector has provided documentation showing they have official authorization to pursue a debt, you can’t be certain a supposed debt collector isn’t actually a scammer. Offering any personal or financial information could leave you vulnerable.
Even some legitimate debt collectors may engage in unscrupulous practices if they believe they can take advantage of debtors who aren’t familiar with their rights. For example, a debt collector might demand that you provide your bank account information. Be aware that you are well within your rights to simply refuse to do so.
You also shouldn’t provide any information about your income or general financial circumstances. If you were to do so, you might end up giving a debt collector leverage during future negotiations.
Don’t Get Angry
The experience of corresponding with a debt collector can cause significant stress. If you feel a debt collector is harassing you or that you don’t owe the debt they’re seeking, you may even become angry.
Avoid saying anything to a debt collector when you’re feeling frustrated. If you’re angry, you might accidentally make a statement that a debt collector could use against you.
Do your best to remain calm when speaking with a debt collector. If you’re unable to do so, try to end the conversation.
DO Consider Speaking With an Attorney
Saying the wrong thing to a debt collector can result in you having to pay money you don’t owe, or it could limit your ability to negotiate for a better deal with a debt collector. Luckily, you don’t have to necessarily worry about accidentally making the wrong statements in these circumstances if you enlist the help of a lawyer.
If a debt collector gets in touch with you, an attorney could review your case and explain your legal options. They can also handle all correspondence with a debt collector if you hire them. As a result, there will be no chance of you accidentally saying something you shouldn’t have.
Keep these tips in mind in the meantime. They’ll help you avoid saying anything a debt collector could use to your disadvantage.
Benjamin Trotter of Debt Legal Defense, serving clients throughout the Greater San Antonio area, offers representation to those facing debt lawsuits and other such circumstances.