What to Say To Collectors

Learn what to say to collectors, and - just as importantly - what not to say to debt collectors, when they call.

You are reading Debt Collection Answers. If you did not start at the beginning of this free guide to dealing with debt collectors, please return to the Debt collection Answers introduction or read our guide to help you understand the debt collection process.

What To Say When You Talk With a Debt Collector

The information in this section is some of the most important in this book, so read it carefully!

The FDCPA does not require you to give a debt collector any information about yourself or your finances. Therefore, no matter how much a debt collector may insist, do not answer any questions or provide any information about your credit accounts, income, bank accounts, or any other assets you may own or about the amount of equity you have in your home. You are under absolutely no obligation to answer any questions a debt collector may ask you about:

  • Your credit accounts. The debt collector may ask you about any open credit accounts or credit lines you have and then try to pressure you into using your available credit to pay your debt. 
  • Your income, bank accounts, or any other assets you may own, including the amount of equity you have in your home. The debt collector may try to pressure you into borrowing against or selling one of these assets so you can pay your debt or may threaten to take one of the assets if you don’t pay up.

In order to protect yourself when you are talking to a debt collector, always keep the conversation brief and to the point, even if the debt collector seems very friendly and tries to engage you in small talk. Also, never provide the debt collector with anything more than a very basic explanation of why you have not paid the debt he is trying to collect. (For example, "I am out of work and cannot discuss payments until I am back at work.")

The Risks of Not Following Our Advice

If you do not follow our advice about what to say and what not say when you are talking with a debt collector:

  • You may unintentionally give the debt collector information that he can use against you to collect the money that you owe. 
  • The debt collector may use your conversation as an opportunity to scare you, to make you feel guilty about the money you owe, or to pressure you into paying your debt even though you really can’t afford to do so. 
  • The debt collector may pressure you into paying a debt even if it’s a relatively unimportant debt compared to your other debts. If you pay that debt, you may be unable to keep up with your most important financial obligations, which could create new financial problems in your life. 
  • You may unintentionally reactivate the statute of limitations on an old debt. Remember, as we’ve already discussed in this book, ordinarily once the statute of limitations runs out on a debt, a debt collector cannot sue you in order to collect it. However, if you acknowledge that you owe the debt or agree to pay something on it, you may reactivate the statue of limitations on the debt and the debt collector will be legally entitled to sue you for the money.

For all of these reasons, if a debt collector tries to initiate a conversation with you or asks you about your personal or work lives, finances, etc., politely end the conversation and hang up the phone. You can do that simply by saying something like, “I am sorry, but I need you to put your question(s) in writing. Goodbye.”

Warning: Beware of debt collectors who act extremely friendly on the phone or who try to get you upset. They are hoping that you will let your guard down and share information about yourself or agree to pay your debt, whether or not you can afford to do so.

This is the end of Chapter 1 of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to protect Your Rights. To purchase Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt collection Laws to Protect Your Rights for immediate download, click here.

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