“I have been yelled at. My family and my life have been threatened. I’ve heard every inappropriate word in the English language. It was all in a day’s work for me….”
This was the remarks my friend over at one of the top debt collection agencies relayed to me.
And today I’m uncovering a very special interview I conducted with my buddy that will give you clarity when dealing with debt collectors.
She is going to give us a behind the scenes perspective on what it’s like to be a debt collector, and tips on how to handle debt collectors. For privacy purposes, I cannot reveal where she works, or her name, but I’m so appreciative she agreed to discuss this topic with me.
The goal today is to learn what every day consumers should know about debt collection practices and how they can apply this knowledge to help them improve their credit.
If you’re someone that struggles with managing or removing debt collections, today’s blog is something that will be EXTREMELY valuable to you.
Enjoy and share!
Me: Thank you for joining us Jane. We are all excited to hear what you have to say about this topic.
Jane: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be able to help shine some light on this subject for you and your audience.
Me: Thank you. My experience in the credit repair industry has given me the opportunity to learn a great deal about credit, debt, debt collection, etc…
But, having an actual experienced person in the debt collection field talk the details is going to be an enlightening experience for our members and others that are tuning in to this today.
Jane: I’m happy to help Jeri. You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers!
Me: Well, let’s get started!
Q: How long have you been a debt collector? And what is it like working in that industry.
“Almost 10 years now. I started at the worst time of year in 2008 when the economy crashed. Collection companies were opening up everywhere to get in on the debt people were struggling with paying. We had thousands of accounts to collect on from people that didn’t have the money. For many Americans struggling with managing their debt, the simple act of picking up the phone was terrifying.
Working in the industry can be very emotional taxing. I’ve had my life threatened more than I can remember, and most times I was listening to an endless amount of emotional stories. If you’re a human being, you’re going to be affected by it. There have been times where it has been very upsetting to me. When I worked as a manager of debt collectors, I had employees break down on the floor and start crying.
It’s hard not to take consumers’ threats personally, but the key is trying to understand the position the debtors are in. When somebody’s in debt and they have bill collectors calling them, that’s not their only problem. They normally have something else going on. The last thing you need is a bill collector calling you. They may lash out on you. I’ve had people tell me they were going to find where my children went to school.”
Q: Since many are now challenging the validity of debt with collection agencies by asking them to present the original debt contract, is this something you require creditors to be included in their agreements to ensure that their debt can be collected upon?
“It depends primarily on how old the debt is and if it with a debt collector or debt buyer. Debt buyers buy your debt for a very low price in efforts to make a profit, and the original company that held the debt decided wash their hands of it. Debt collectors are usually hired by a company to collect on their outstanding accounts because they either don’t have the time or resources available to do it in -house (who usually have original contracts)
People have been sending us those “google letters” for years, and many people only get automated responses depending on what they are disputing and how they are disputing it. Most people say the debt isn’t there’s and then we send them the records we have on file that it actually is- requiring them to pay. If we don’t have records we contact the credit bureaus to remove from their file.
We’ve also had companies that hire us because they don’t want to upset their clients, because people tend to get angry when you contact them about money the owe.”
Q: This is true. How do you handle difficult personality types in regards to customer service?
“It’s hard, but it really comes down to patience and trying to understand the debtors position. Most people consider us to be the “bad guy”, but we are just here to do our jobs. Our goal is to collect on accounts for our clients. Nothing more than that.”
Q: What advice would you give consumers dealing with debt collection companies?
“The worst thing they can do is ignore the calls. Send a letter, at least respond in some way. Wait until they close and call, if they want to avoid the conflict. By ignoring it, the account gets escalated to legal quicker and they’ll get calls more often, letters, and they could get sued.
A lot of consumers will run and hide and not answer the phone and then we have to go hunt them down. If someone answers the phone and is honest with us, we can normally find a solution. Or sometimes we have people that answer the phone, but start lying or give excuses.”
Q: What type of excuses?
“I once dealt with a woman who claimed that she wrote out all the checks to pay her bills and then was robbed in the parking lot of the post office. She also had a woman claim she couldn’t send the money because she had just had a baby that month. The only problem was that the same woman had claimed she had given birth the month before.
Consumers often think they have to pay the full bill or nothing at all, and that isn’t the case. Ignoring us and avoiding making payments is costly. Even offering to settle is a good idea that could result in it getting removed from the consumers reports.”
Q: So, they aren’t automatically deleted when paid?
“No, they aren’t. We aren’t obligated to do that. According to the FCRA, We are only obligated to update the status of the account to paid or settled. As long as it reflects accurately, we are in compliance. But, if the consumer asks, we would be more likely to remove it when it’s paid.”
Q: Speaking of the FCRA. Can you explain how debt collectors are affected by the FCRA and FDCPA?
“The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a consumer law put in place to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies like Transition, Equifax, and Experian.
The FDCPA is a federal law the Federal Trade Commission enforces that limits the behavior of third-party debt collectors (us) who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or company. There are a lot of rules put in place that we must abide by or we risk a lawsuit.”
Q: Can you explain?
According to the FDCPA- A debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night, unless you agree to it.
They cannot harass you, threaten you, or use profane language.
Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt.- falsely claim attorney, say you’ve committed a crime, etc.
They cannot tell you that legal action will break brought against you unless they actually have the power to do so.
Try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
No matter how they communicate with you, it’s against the law for a debt collector to pretend to be someone else — like an attorney or government agency — or to harass, threaten or deceive you.
A debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.
Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.”
Q: Wow! So, what if these laws are breached?
“If they are breached a consumer has the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated.
If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs.”
Q: How can someone report problems?
Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.”
We have to wrap this up, but wow! I really appreciate all the information you have shared with us today, Jane! I’m sure many people will be able to take this information and find much value in it.
Jane: I’d hope so lol! Thank you for having me Jeri.
Well, that’s it ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a fact that collection accounts can wreck havoc on your credit scores, and cost you hundreds and thousands of dollars. If you’d like more information about the FCRA and FDCPA, or need direction with how to handle derogatory account on your credit, schedule a free phone consultation with us today
Or if you’re ready to take action now, signup for our Free Flawless Credit Guide, and get the tools and resources you need to start tackling your challenged credit today.