If you have a lot of debt, particularly if it is past due, then you may get nervous each time the phone rings for fear that it is a collector attempting to obtain payments. In fact, the words “this is an attempt to collect a debt” may ingrain in your mind that every time you get a call from an unknown number you simply refuse to answer.
But, rather than ignoring these calls, you should know your rights and learn what to say to debt collectors you simply will not leave you alone.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumers and debtors with many protections and rights. One of these rights is your ability to stop receiving phone communications from debt collectors. However, in order to exercise this right, you must first pick-up the phone when a debt collector tries to contact you.
Once you do answer the call, and the person on the other side of the phone informs you that “this is an attempt to collect a debt,” politely tell the collector that you would like not to be contacted by phone. In most cases, the collector will say okay, but then will try to discuss your debt with you and may even get aggressive or make threats/insults against you if you do not work out a payment plan. DON’T GET RATTLED. Simply repeat that you do not wish to be contacted by phone, and that any further attempts to call you will be a violation of federal law. Give the collector your mailing address and tell them any communication with you should be through U.S. Mail.
NEVER admit to the debt, discuss the debt, ask for a payment plan or pay-off/settlement amount!
After this call, make sure to send a letter to the debt collector reiterating that you do not want to be contacted by phone. This will provide physical proof of your request (although most, if not all debt collection calls are recorded). In the event you are called after the collector receives your letter, you may have the ability to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the State Attorney General’s office.
However, it is important to note that a letter requesting no phone communication does NOT invalidate your debt or relieve you from the responsibility to pay it. It simply entitles you not to be contacted by phone.
If you are behind on paying your bills and have begun receiving communications from debt collectors, you need the help of an experienced debtor rights attorney—like those at Fitzgerald & Campbell—to review your case and discuss your options with you. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in all types of debtor defense cases and we are here to help you!