Debt collectors can be aggressive, to say the least. They have a reputation for being relentless. They will do and say just about anything to try to get some of your money. This is a brief guide of how to handle these harassing calls.

Should I deal with debt collectors, try to avoid them, or ignore them?

The longer you try to avoid them, the worse it tends to get. More severe consequences, fees, and even more aggressive campaigns to get you on the phone and to pay tend to be the result of avoidance or ignoring your creditors. It is advisable that you speak with an attorney to see what your options are when dealing with creditors. You may be able to make the calls, letters, etc. stop by declaring bankruptcy. Again, it is best to speak with an attorney regarding this option.

The collection agencies have been calling me all day and night. What can I do?

It is against federal and state law for a bill collector who is working for a collection agency to call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Other hours may be considered unreasonable as well. That includes if you are receiving calls during the day when you work at night. They are also not allowed to use abusive language, make misleading statements, add unauthorized charges, etc. To see what your rights are, it is wise to speak with an attorney regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Rosenthal Act in California. You may be able to seek compensation for violation of the federal bar.

The collection agency is insisting that I wire money. Do I have to do that?

The answer is no. Regardless of how much the collector wants to compel you to make an ’emergency payment’ or an ‘urgency payment’ (both are simply creditor terms), a regular first class mail stamp will work fine. It is wise to avoid the additional fees involved with wiring money, overnight mail, or sending a money gram. Additionally, if you put the payment on a credit card, that will not help you get any further out of debt. You can also often pay by check or debit card, but be sure to ask the creditor if they will charge a fee. If the creditor is pressing for you to send the immediate payment, you may contact an attorney to be advised of your rights.

A collection agency sued me, and they won. What can happen now?

Before a judgement is obtained, bill collectors can generally only ask for payments through calls and letters. Once the creditor or collector sues you and obtains a court judgement, the law will allow them to take further steps to try to obtain payments. They can garnish up to 25% of your wages, seize deposit accounts, or record liens against your properties. Even if you do not have a job or own a home, the judgement will not go away. Judgements can last up to 20 years. Judgements can even be renewed under certain circumstances. Contact an attorney to see what your options are if you have a lawsuit pending against you or if you have a judgement.

Don’t let creditors scare, bully, or corner you into doing something you are not comfortable with. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney and to see what your options are. You may have ways to significantly reduce, or even eliminate debts while ending harassing calls. Bankruptcy with an experienced attorney may be the best way to do this. Call for a free consultation at 877-346-7411.

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