Let’s talk collections, more specifically, collectors.
I know how embarrassing it is to receive a collection call and I know how overwhelming it is when you are being hounded by the collector. I’ve even had collection calls at work – which was even more embarrassing.
So let’s talk.
First off, I need you to be prepared to deal with the creditors and to communicate with you. Now, before you go rolling your eyes because your creditors are anything but kind, hear me out.
In order to get the help you need so you can in fact pay those creditors, you need to communicate with them. I used to hide from a creditor all the time but that didn’t make them go away, in fact it just made the situation worse.
So let’s look at some basics real quick to make sure we’re on the same page here:
A debt is an obligation of an individual to pay money, whether reduced to a judgment or not.
A consumer is a person who owes a debt.
A creditor is a person who extends credit and is owed a debt.
A debt collector is a third party hired by a creditor to collect debts from consumers.
Did you notice that part about debt being an obligation? Because, guess what? It is an obligation – it is something that you have to pay back. Keep this in mind before you swipe your credit card or apply for a loan – you have to pay this back.
Now let’s talk about dealing with a creditor.
Collectors cannot contact consumers at unusual times or places. The consumer has the responsibility of telling the creditor what times and places would be considered inconvenient.
Without the special notice, collectors are still limited to calling between the hours of 8am and 9pm. These are based on the consumer’s local time, not the collector’s.
Collectors cannot contact a consumer at work if they are notified via a certified letter sent certified mail that the consumer’s employer disapproves of such contact.
Did you notice that there are several things that the collectors cannot do but only if the consumer takes certain actions? This is why it is critical that if you are dealing with collectors that you don’t hide, but that you take action.
Overcommunicate with collectors. Don’t avoid them, because this will accomplish nothing. You should make it clear that you will only talk with collectors once a week.
Be enthusiastic when collectors call – yeah, I know that sounds strange, but guess what? It catches them off guard and helps the call become less one-sided.
Listen to what the collector has to say – don’t get mad or yell, listen and take good notes.
Remember that these folks don’t know you personally. To them, you’re just an account number and they’re doing their job. It’s nothing personal.
Resist the bait – collectors will try to incite strong emotional responses in hopes that you’ll agree to something without actually thinking about it. Keep cool and resist the temptation to let your emotions get the better of you.
****This is a biggie**** You MUST take care of your family first. Here’s what I mean. Don’t pay your Visa statement before you pay your light bill. Your family comes first – collectors second. Now, I’m not saying you should never pay a creditor because remember you agreed to paying that money back when you borrowed, so you do have to pay it back. I’m just saying to make sure you don’t agree to take your whole paycheck and pay off Visa but now you can’t go and buy groceries for your babies.
Please do not ever make a payment promise you can’t or don’t intend to keep. You’re better than that.
Record your calls with your collectors and make sure you let them know that the call is being recorded before you start talking.
Here’s what you need to make sure you record on your call:
1. The name of the collection agent.
2. The date and time of the call.
3. A summary of the call’s main discussion points.
4. A summary of the agreed plan of action.
Don’t ask permission.
Here’s the thing, you are not asking them permission. You are telling them what it is that you can and will pay them. Period. You must know before talking with them how much it is that you can realistically afford to pay them. And how do you figure that out?
You guess it. A budget.
If you haven’t already gone through this post: The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting it’s a great one for helping you to get started with budgeting, but remember that in order to make these collection calls stop, you have to actually pay them what you agree to paying and when you agreed to pay it.
Now here’s a another biggie to remember, that whatever you and the collector agree upon, you MUST GET IT IN WRITING! Do not and I repeat, do NOT send them a payment until you have the agreement in writing – and tell them that. Say “I am more than happy to pay you XYZ on ABC date and I will start as soon as I receive from you a written agreement in the mail that lays out our agreed upon terms.”
Remember that if you don’t get it in writing then the agreement doesn’t really exist.
Alright, so hopefully you are not the one having to deal with collectors but if you are, remember that you must take action. They aren’t going to go away – I learned that firsthand. So take action and take back control over your financial life.
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