Debt collection calls can be stressful, but they can also be successful and productive when handled as calm, informative, and proactive exchanges. Debt collectors are just people who are trying to do their jobs. Understanding how to handle these phone calls can help you resolve your debt faster and with less stress. Remember, if you receive a call from a debt collector, that person is trying to help you resolve your outstanding balance. Here are some insider tips on what to do if a debt collector calls.
Don’t Avoid Resolving the Debt
Receiving a call from a debt collector can trigger an immediate stress response for many people. Financial stress is common and has real physiological effects that can influence the outcome of the call. Collectors understand this and work to put account holders at ease. It can also be beneficial for account holders to keep in mind that debt collectors are professionals who are calling to help find a solution for account resolution as a matter of business, and amicable resolution is preferable for all parties.
When a debt collector calls, take the time to speak with the collector. If the time of day that the collector has called is inconvenient, you can request a call back at a preferred time. Having advanced notice and an opportunity to prepare may help consumers avoid a sense of unexpected pressure. Being able to focus on the scheduled call at a later time can help with reducing environmental distractions or interruptions.
Despite the stress associated with being in debt, try to remain calm, communicate courteously, and take the opportunity to ask questions. Respectful communication can go a long way and empowers debt collectors to know how to help and what information consumers may need. Debt collectors are highly trained in providing account information, assisting consumers with questions or concerns regarding accounts, and explaining payment options.
Using abusive or profane language toward a collector does in some cases lead to placement of the account in a Cease and Desist status to protect other collection representatives from abusive or profane language on future calls. A Cease and Desist status on an account is not generally in the best interest of the consumer, as it prevents collectors from keeping consumers informed of account developments. In situations where interest continues to accrue or creditors are preparing to pursue legal action (such as suing for a judgment or filing for wage garnishment), lack of communication can cause consumers to feel taken off-guard down the line if they believe the account has been closed or forgotten.
Ask Questions and Get Answers
Consumers can handle debt collection calls proactively by contacting a collection agency directly to receive account details. Once a collector confirms a consumer’s identity to ensure the privacy of information, they can answer questions. Information such as balance, interest rate, and payment options can help consumers in determining the best next steps. Collectors can also provide account details such as when and with what creditor the account originated and when it became delinquent on payments. To ensure the fastest method of future communications, consumers may want to use the phone call to confirm that the debt collector has an accurate, up-to-date physical address on file. You can also choose to receive electronic communications such as text and/or email instead of physical mail and phone calls.
It can be helpful to know that many debt collectors are outsourced account servicers (not account owners). The debt collector’s goal is to resolve past-due accounts on behalf of their creditor clients. As a part of servicing the account, debt collectors are skilled in providing additional details or payment options you may need to resolve the account or provide information on how to reach out to originating creditors when appropriate.
Be Proactive and Make a Plan
During a call, account holders can inquire about available settlement or payment plan options. Many collection agencies offer several payment options to make account resolution easier and faster. If you prefer not to talk with a collector, take advantage of online payment options. Opting in for digital communication channels can also reduce or eliminate calls regarding that account. For more information on available account options, contact the collection agency directly.
Consumers may also request confirmation by letter of any payment agreements for their records. After a phone call with a debt collector, set aside time to review notes, organize papers, and make a budget to help determine or prepare for any upcoming payment agreements. Personal finances are common challenges, as are times of financial hardship, so consumers need not feel ashamed or embarrassed when a collector calls.
More Information on Resolving Debt
The most important thing to keep in mind when a debt collector calls is that they are calling to help develop a plan that achieves account resolution. Resolving past-due debt is one of the first steps toward achieving financial wellness. There are many additional resources available for assistance navigating debt resolution and pursuing greater financial health. To get started, please visit the Receivables Info Money Chat page, the Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) Consumer Resources page, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau FAQ, and the Federal Trade Commission’s Coping with Debt page.
About The Author
This article was provided by The Bureaus, Inc., a servicer for accounts receivable portfolios and a Certified Receivables Business (CRB) by the Receivables Management Association International. Using cutting-edge technology, internally developed proprietary tools, and the vast expertise of its management team, we combine technological strategies with data mining capabilities to identify opportunities not usually found by other asset management firms. The Bureaus was founded in 1928 and is located in Northbrook, Illinois.