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How To Deal With Harassment From Collection Agencies and Debt Collectors and Win!

How to deal with collection agencies: You can protect your rights when you receive harassing telephone calls from an abusive collection agency. You can put a stop to harassing bill collectors in their tracks and learn how to fight back when collection agencies step over the line. If you feel like you've been taken advantage of, then this valuable information can help you.

Laws on what a collection agency can or cannot do when they contact you vary by state law. But That doesn't matter. Because, across the nation, the Federal Government enforces consumer laws of how collection agencies must operate. These laws are designed to protect you.

Where can you report a debt collector for an alleged violation?

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General' s office and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws, and your Attorney General' s office can help you determine your rights.

Consumer protection laws exist to help protect you from overzealous collection agents who bend and/or break the law in their attempts to collect a past due you owe. You can report bill collectors who break the law through the Federal Trade Commission?s own public website.

For the free FTC Complaint Form... click here has compiled its step-by-step guide on how to handle harassing phone calls at its website,, and it offers excellent resources on how to fight back when bill collectors won't stop bothering you.

Visit our new website, to learn how you can put a stop to pushy debt collectors, prank callers, and telemarketers and regain your privacy!

How to deal with debt collection calls

By Douglas Michaels

At some point in our lives unplanned for events befall the best of us and some can have far-reaching consequences. Take the loss of a job for instance. That?s a near certainty to occur to us a least once in our working lives and one of the consequences is likely to be falling behind on our bills. Unless you happen to leave your job with a generous severance package and have large pools of savings to draw on, chances are there are going to be some late payments ahead for you.

There are some bills you will continue to pay, no matter what, but there are others you will let slide. The electricity and water must continue to flow unless you relish camping in the backyard, but the tier two expenses like credit card payments, cable and cell phone bills and maybe even the car payment, will take a hit. Rather than cringe in fear waiting for the debt collection calls to come, you may as well buckle up and make a pre-emptive strike.

Making the call

Assuming you have the means to make some kind of payment, round up all your statements, list the balances and minimum payments along with the phone numbers and prepare to start calling.

If you have been a good customer for a number of years, some creditors may actually grant you a grace period on your debt while you search for work. But you?ll never know unless you ask. The first call to your creditor is the most important. Bear in mind that you are going begging essentially and assume the humble position. And if the stars align in the right position on the day of your call, you may get a sympathetic account rep on the other end of the line. But you must be prepared to act your humblest best.

Most service companies spend small fortunes acquiring customers and are reluctant to lose long-term clients. If the account rep can?t suspend your debt payments, ask in the nicest fashion if they think a supervisor would be willing to bend the rules. That?s music to your account rep?s ear as they often are not paid well enough to go out on a limb and will be more than willing to pass you on to someone higher up.

Talk to the right person

Should you be unfortunate enough to get the village crank on the other end of the line, make an excuse to get off the phone by pretending to hear the baby crying. Even the crank will let you off easy without making derogatory statements in your account record if you are taking care of an alleged baby. Wait a couple of hours or until a shift change is likely after 5pm and call again. The next account rep you get may treat you completely differently.

State your case plainly, emphasizing that you are willing to pay your debt but you are between jobs. And ask for the moon. Some auto credit companies may have programs that suspend your payments for as much as three months while most will do at least two. Cell phone and credit card companies may agree to a two month grace period, but you will never find out until you pick up the phone. You may even offer to sweeten the deal by making a reduced debt payment for a fixed period of time but above all else, you must remain as polite and sweet tempered as possible no matter the circumstances.

If your calls turn out to be unsuccessful and your creditors demand full payment, focus on paying your most important bills first. You must keep the phone line on if you are job searching and you may want to consider signing up for dial-up internet service with a low-cost carrier lest you lose the broadband. Those two items, together with a working auto are crucial to your job search activities

Settling your debts

Should you be unfortunate enough to go through an extended period of unemployment, it may be necessary to dig yourself out of a mountain of debt. Rebuilding your credit report score should become a top priority once your cash flow position improves. Start by getting a copy of your credit report to see who has reported your missed debt payments and get a total of what you owe. You are now going to make a different type of debt collection call entirely; once again, politeness is the key and I?ll explain why in a moment.

Know that there are two ways to pay off debts that have gone bad. You can choose to pay in full or you can ask for a settlement. I tend to favor paying in full as the effect on your credit report score is more positive if you have a string of paid accounts than if your credit report shows ?settled for less than the balance due.? That being said, if cash flow is a constraint and you want to get on with the rebuilding process, call your creditors and ask if they offer settlements. This will begin a process of bargaining during which you will suggest a modest percentage settlement but not one so outrageously low that you start off on a bad note with the account rep on the other end of the line.

You may even go so far as to ask that the settlement be split into three or four equal payments. If your debt is a year or older, many companies will agree to a sharp bargain rather than sell the debt for 10 cents on the dollar to a collection agency. The larger the debt, the lower the percentage you should offer, but do so in a spirit of amicable discussion.

Get it in writing

And should you be skillful enough to reach an agreement with which you can live, ask for the settlement agreement in writing. If they balk at knocking themselves out writing a letter, explain that your crusty uncle Joe is paying the debt for you and won?t part with so much as a dime unless he sees it in writing. Once you have secured the promise of a settlement letter, humbly ask if you will be able to get a paid letter at the end of the exercise and if they will be reporting to the credit bureaus after you have paid. If they tell you they do no issue paid letters, politely ask to be excused and call the next creditor in line.

Repeat the call

Repeat the process until you have your offers in hand and you paid letters secured in a safe place. Then check your credit report a month or two after you have paid the debt to ensure they have updated your record. If nothing has happened, your paid letters will be proof to the credit reporting bureaus that you have paid or settled your debt and they are required by federal law to upgrade their records.

One last tip remains. If your debt has been bought by a collection agency and you have any small doubt they will act ethically, pay nothing until you get a settlement offer letter, and pay with a method that ensures someone signs for your payment instrument and that carries some written record of the transaction.

Douglas Michaels is an editor, publisher and columnist. He works in the financial industry and now dedicates his time to helping others educate themselves on improving their credit scores. For more tips on credit matters visit his website at or read his blog at

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Help, I Am Being Sued By A Bill Collector! What Do I Do Now?
By Richard Cooper

If I had a dime for every time a bill collector from a collection agency threatened someone in debt with a lawsuit and actually followed through on it, I would probably be an extremely poor man. It's rare for a collection agency to sue people but it is more common for the bill collector to threaten legal action.

However, you should be aware that when you borrow money as a loan or on a credit card you are in an agreement. Creditors use carefully worded contracts so they do not lose their money if you default in your payments. Understand that anytime you are in breach of a contractual arrangement, you are exposing yourself to a lawsuit.

It's because of this fact that bill collectors use their seemingly endless supply of one liner's that end with threats of "legal action".

Below are some reasons why the threat is rarely followed by action:

Suing someone takes time, financial & human resources.

Despite that bill collector going on about being in debt and suing you for being a bad person, it's rarely an emotional decision to sue and more of a business one. Throwing good money after bad in hopes a lawsuit will collect a debt is a colossal waste, if you know you can never do anything with a judgement once you get it.

Supporting documents are required for a lawsuit.

There are situations where actual proof that the debtor owes the debt is somehow unavailable. A judge needs to hang his hat on something when issuing a judgment to a creditor against a debtor, and they want to see proof the debt is owed.

The statute of limitations.

This is a law in place that defines the period within which legal action may be taken. This time frame varies depending on your laws so you would need to check with a licensed professional in your area.

It's far more cost effective for a collection agency to threaten legal action rather then actually spend the human resources, time and money at actually doing it. That's why practically everyone dealing with bill collectors is threatened with a lawsuit at some point in the collection cycle. Collection agencies are masters of empty threats.

Now, don't rest too easy, there are situations where the threat of a lawsuit may be very real. You have to be alert to two points in the collection cycle. The original creditor and the debt buyers.

The collection cycle usually follows this order: Original Creditor --> Collection Agency --> Debt Buyers.

Some original creditors can be litigious. What that means is they are inclined to sue you if they know you have the means to pay the debt and/or you own a home with equity. They may decide to hire a law firm to sue you to secure the debt with a judgement rather then assigning the debt to a collection agency to harass you.

The collection agency is usually (but not always, some creditors skip this step) the second step. The agency is a paid a commission usually ranging from 10-25% of what is collected for the original creditor.

The debt buyers are often the last collection step. It's usually some form of a collection agency that buys debt for a few pennies on the dollar. Because the debt buyer owns the debt, they can do what ever they want with it. I have seen some debt buyers just blindly sue people when there are no assets to satisfy a judgement. It's a really bad business decision but it does happen sometimes. Others won't even spend the time or money, it depends on company policy.

A debt assigned to a collection agency on the other hand is a different story. I would estimate that your chances of actually being sued by a collection agency that has been assigned a debt for collection, is about as good as being struck by a bolt of lightening on relatively clear day. However, it is also fair to say that if you are behind in your payments and owe debt then your chance of being threatened with a lawsuit by bill collectors is nearly as certain as death and taxes.

Debt is tough to deal with; there is no easy way out of it. Seek help if you need it, debt settlement is one of the best alternatives for people dealing with collection agencies because it is fast, effective and has little to no further impact on your credit rating.

Article courtesy of: Richard Cooper, Founder & CEO at Total Debt Freedom Inc. in Canada. More information visit

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