When a debt collector contacts you, the experience can be quite unpleasant. Debt collectors are known for pushing borrowers to give them as much information as possible over the phone, and they may even engage in harassment or threatening behavior to get money. However, if a debt collector calls regarding an unpaid debt, it is important that you give them as little information as possible and refrain from getting annoyed and threatening them back.
Debt collection agencies are highly skilled at what they do, and they know what to say to get the information they need. It is important to be aware of your rights when the debt collector calls and to say just enough to buy yourself some more time. Then, it is recommended that you contact an experienced debt collection attorney, who can help assess whether you owe the debt and try to set up a fair payment arrangement on your behalf.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC
If you need help from an attorney that knows how to fight aggressively against debt collectors and ensure that your legal rights are protected, Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC is the person for your case. He has over 26 years of experience in Texas helping protect the rights of taxpayers and fight against the unlawful practices of debt collectors.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC is recognized by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas and has gained significant recognition for his experience and skills. He can help you understand your rights, assess whether the debt is valid, organize a fair payment plan, and fight on your behalf.
Things a Debt Collector Cannot Do
Traditionally, debt collectors in Texas have been known for engaging in threats, harassment, and awful behavior to try and force a borrower to pay a debt. In many cases, these collection agencies do not stop contacting borrowers until they have given them the information they want, regardless of whether this is legal.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was introduced to protect borrowers from the unlawful practices of debt collectors and to limit what they can and cannot do. Debt collection activities must fall within the scope of this Act and if they go further than what is permitted, they can be sued for unlawful practice.
Pretend to Work For a Government Agency
A debt collector or collection agency is legally required to give honest credentials, including their name, the agency they work for, and their contact information. However, in some cases, debt collectors may pretend to work for a government agency in an attempt to scare you into paying the debt. There have also been many cases in which debt collectors fraudulently claimed that the borrower would be arrested and criminally charged for not paying their debt.
However, if a debt collector pretends to work for the government or a federal agency in an attempt to collect a debt, they can be arrested for fraud. It is important that you check their credentials and seek legal help if they claim to be working for a government agency.
Try to Collect Debt You Do Not Owe
Debt collectors cannot rely on false or incorrect information to try and collect a debt. In some cases, the original creditor from whom you first borrowed money sold a debt to a collection agency, which may have then been passed on to another debt collector. When information gets mixed up along the way, a debt collector may try to falsely take money from you. This could result in you paying a debt that is not actually addressed to you or past due debts that were discharged in bankruptcy.
It is important to receive a written notice from a debt collector regarding the debt, which states how much you owe, to whom you owe the debt, and how you can make your payment. If you do not receive this information, or if the information is inaccurate, you can challenge their collection claim.
Although illegal, harassment is still unfortunately a common practice amongst debt collectors. Many people report receiving multiple calls a week from debt collectors and receiving calls early in the morning or late at night. The law states however that debt collectors cannot engage in the following behaviors:
- Call you repeatedly
- Threaten you or use profane language
- Call before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm
- Contact you while at work
- Contact you personally if you have hired an attorney and told them to only speak with your attorney
- Contact you after you request the collector by certified mail to stop contacting you
If you believe that a debt collector has broken regulations on harassment, you should notify your attorney as soon as possible and they can report their illegal behavior.
What Should You Not Say to Debt Collectors?
When a debt collector contacts you, it is important to know what you should and shouldn’t say to them. Saying the wrong thing to a debt collector or doing something that they ask you to do could make it easier for them to access your money or could result in a time-barred debt being revived. As such, you should be aware of your legal rights and understand when a debt collector is pushing the limit.
1. Do Not Give Financial Information
Most importantly, you should never give personal or financial information to a debt collector over the phone. This information includes your social security number, bank account details, employment information, property value, and other personal information. They may try to encourage you into giving them this information by saying you may qualify for a lower payment amount or suggesting that they are legally required to receive this information.
However, you are under no obligation to give them this personal and financial information. Doing so could result in wage garnishment, property lien, or a bank levy, in the event of a court judgment.
2. Do Not Admit You Owe The Debt
If a debt collector contacts you, you should never admit liability for the debt. Even if you recognize the debt and believe it is the right thing to do, you can never be sure that the call is from a legitimate collection company or that they are acting in good faith. Before admitting that you owe the debt, you should check that it is legitimate and request written verification.
The law provides that you are legally entitled to receive a written request for a debt which contains information such as the debt amount and to whom you owe the debt. Once you get this information, you should contact an attorney to see how best to proceed. There may be a legal ground for challenging the debt, such as the statute of limitations or invalidity due to bankruptcy.
3. Do Not Make a Payment
The last thing that you should do when a debt collector calls is make a payment or arrange a payment plan with them. In some cases, a collection agency may ask you to make a payment in “good faith” and you may believe that they will not sue you if you make this payment. However, when you make a payment to a collection agency, you risk opening up the statute of limitations again.
If you have a time-barred debt, and it has already run out, a new payment will restart the statute of limitations, and you will be legally required to pay back the debt.
Although we recommend not making a payment, if you do decide to do this, it is vital that you get everything in writing. Debt collectors should send you a letter outlining the settlement offer and the terms and conditions. If they do not, you should ensure to send your own letter with terms and conditions and keep a copy. If the debt is on your credit report, it is important to get the collector to remove it.
What Should I Do if a Debt Collector Calls?
Now that you have learned what you should not do when a debt collector calls you, it is important to understand what you should say to them if they call. Knowing what to say to them and understanding your legal rights can be of huge benefit to your situation.
1. Ask For Their Credentials
As previously noted, debt collectors are legally required to give you their credentials including who they are, who they work for, and their contact information. They may not give you this information until you ask for it, as they could be lying about who they truly are. As such, you must ask them for their credentials, and you can check these credentials with the state attorney general’s office or a lawyer.
2. Keep a Record
If you decide to talk with a debt collector, it is important to keep records of all calls and correspondence with them. In this collection log, you should take note of each time a collector calls you, what they say to you, and who you speak with. This can help you understand where the debt is coming from and it can be used as evidence of harassment if they contact you frequently.
3. Contact a Debt Collection Attorney
The smartest thing to do when a debt collection agency calls you is to seek legal counsel from a reputable attorney. When it comes to debt collectors, they are highly experienced with the tricks and tactics necessary to collect interest and money from people. Even though there are laws prohibiting them from doing so, most of these collectors know that they can scare people into paying them money.
As such, even if you feel confident talking with a collector alone, having the backing of a lawyer will ensure that you are not taken advantage of. Once you notify a debt collector that you have a lawyer, they are much more likely to abide by laws and they should stop contacting you personally. Your lawyer can then handle matters with the collector by assessing whether the debt is valid, ensuring that they respected protection laws, and helping you set up a payment arrangement.
Receiving a Debt Collection Lawsuit Summons
If you receive a summons or letter in the mail regarding a debt collection lawsuit, there are some things that you must do. Firstly, you must respond to the letter within a certain time period, which is usually around between 20 and 30 days. If you fail to respond to the summons within this time, the debt collectors will accept this response as an admission of guilt and get a default judgment issued against you.
If a debt collector can get a default judgment issued against you for a debt, they may be able to get money taken out directly from your bank account or in the form of a wage garnishment, which is when your employer must take the debt out of your wages each month. There may be additional charges added to your debt in the event of a default judgment, such as court costs, attorney fees, and interest. It can be extremely difficult to get a default judgment turned over once it is given, which is why it is important that you respond as soon as possible.
When responding to the summons, you should give as little information as possible, and never admit liability. Responding to a debt collection lawsuit can be quite complicated, and it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from an experienced attorney. They can help you respond to the summons and assess whether the lawsuit brought against you is legally valid.
Can I Get Sued For Old Debts?
All debts, including delinquent debt, credit card debt, medical debt, and student loan debt, are subject to a statute of limitations period. This means that if the debt is not pursued within this time period, and you have not used your bank account, you will not have to pay it back. However, a collection agency can still sue you for a debt outside of the statute of limitations period, and if you respond to it or make a payment from your bank, the debt will become valid again.
As such, many debt collectors contact borrowers about old debts and force them into setting up a payment plan or making a “good faith” partial payment from their bank account. If you do not respond, they may also get a default judgment issued, which cannot be disputed after. As such, it is important to fight against a debt collector and use the statute of limitations defense if you believe it is a time-barred debt.
Contact Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC Today!
When debt collectors call, you may feel pressured into doing what they say and paying money for an alleged debt that you owe. However, collection agencies often use manipulative tactics to get people to pay time-barred debts or debts with added interest. It is important to know your legal rights regarding debt collection and understand whether you are legally required to pay back the alleged debt.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has been helping taxpayers in Texas with managing debt and debt collectors for over 26 years. Through his experience, he has seen firsthand how these agencies behave in order to take money from people. He knows how to fight against these debt collectors and ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Once you contact Ronald Arthur Stearns, he will speak with a debt collector on your behalf, advise you on your legal rights, dispute the debt if there are any legal grounds, or help set up a payment plan to repay the debt in a way that suits you. He will help ensure that you are not treated unfairly by debt collectors and that you get the full protection of the law.
Call today to set up a consultation with Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC at 210-853-2135.