How to Deal With a Collection Agent
Snowballing debts cause stress for a wide range of reasons.
However, facing the bombardment of calls and letters from collection agents is perhaps the very worst culprit.
It is suffocating and can prevent you from moving on with other aspects of your life.
Therefore, devising a solid strategy to deal with the calls is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success.
Here are 10 things you must do to regain control of the situation.
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#1. Seek Written Confirmation Of The Debt
When a creditor hires a collection agency to collect debts on their behalf, the agency is required by law to contact you via mail before making calls or visits.
The written notice should be made at least six days prior to any other contact takes place.
The written confirmation should include details of:
- The creditor;
- Total monies owed;
- The individual collection agent;
- The collection agency.
Refuse to talk about the details until the letter has been sent.
If nothing else, it’ll keep collection agents off of your back for at least one week.
#2. Request An End To Phone Calls
You cannot afford to simply ignore the debt and the collection calls.
However, the phone calls can be far more stressful than letters and emails.
Written communication gives you time to digest the information and consider your response.
Send a letter to formally request an end to calls, and the collection agency must agree to do this.
While other forms of communication will continue, this remains a step in the right direction.
#3. Don’t Be Afraid To Dispute The Debt
Disputing a debt for the sake of it is never advised.
Nonetheless, if you have a genuine reason to avoid making payments, be ready to challenge it.
The most common reasons are:
- You’ve already paid the debt, and have proof of it;
- The debt relates to a service you did not receive or failed to meet the contract expectations;
- The creditor has confused you with someone else, probably of the same name.
#4. Don’t Be Intimidated
Collection agencies use aggressive tactics, which is understandable given their role.
Still, the chances of them actually suing you are minimal.
In fact, even the original creditor is unlikely to do this unless the fee is fairly significant.
#5. Don’t Be Bullied
Likewise, you may find that a collection agent tries to force your hand.
Agreeing to a repayment plan you can’t keep never makes sense.
It’ll only make matters worse when you default on a second agreement.
Advise them that you want to settle the debt, but under terms that suit all parties.
#6. Take Control Of Old Debts
As per the Ontario Statute of Limitations on Debt, creditors and collection agents have two years to start legal proceedings over a debt.
If this time has passed, they cannot sue you.
While collection calls may continue, their options are limited.
It’s still a good idea to pay back the debts when you can.
Nonetheless, identifying that a debt falls outside the two-year period can put you in control of the situation.
In turn, creditors and collection agents are more likely to work with (rather than against) you during the process.
#7. Know The Purge Period
Old debts continue to harm your credit score for six years.
However, they are removed from your file after this time.
So, if the collection agent is contacting you in regards to a debt that is about to hit this mark, it might be best to ignore them.
You will still technically owe the money, and they can keep contacting you for years.
Still, most will realize that they are fighting a losing battle.
It should be noted, however, that the original creditor is unlikely to deal with you ever again.
#8. Pay Debts When It Suits You
If you owe money, it should be repaid.
Then again, there is little point in making payments that do not help your overall situation.
Aside from the purge period, you should also think twice about paying:
- Old debts;
- Single debts when you have multiple accounts to settle;
- Low-interest debts when you have high-interest debts to pay.
Small debts, especially when they are the only negative features on your credit report, should be paid ASAP.
Ultimately, though, you need to consider all available paths.
#9. Offer A Lump Fee
The collection agent working on behalf of a creditor may be willing to accept a lump sum rather than the full amount.
For example, offering to pay the initial monies owed minus any interest rates means that the creditor won’t loss money on the deal.
Likewise, you have reduced the payment.
Other ideas include:
- Offering a 50% payment ASAP in return for writing off the other half;
- Paying a smaller lump fee ASAP followed by a top-up over the coming months, but still at a lower rate.
The key here, however, is to get confirmation of the agreement in writing before making a payment.
#10. Consider Other Possibilities
If you are unable to reach an agreement with a creditor or collection agency, it might be necessary to consider alternative options.
Consumer Proposals, Bankruptcy, and Debt Management Plans should all be discussed with an experienced financial advisor.
Above all else, outsourcing in this manner can put an end to the direct harassment.
To find out more, give Bankruptcy Canada a call today.