Ask a bill collector

How can we expose more people to critical thinking?
User avatar
Hexxenhammer
Posts: 3863
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 10:56 pm
Location: Minnesota

Post by Hexxenhammer »

Grammatron wrote:Wait, so I can ask them to stop bugging me and they do it even if I owe money? Am I missing something here?
Nope. People don't realize that beyond wrecking your credit, there aren't that many consequences for not paying your credit card bills.

Sooner or later they will charge it off, sell the debt and someone else will try to collect it. The balance will be going up, however. Sooner or later, depending on the company, it may be sent to a law firm and they could get a judgement against you.

But if you don't want a collection agency to bug you, they can't. People are masochists though. They rarely go through the nessecary steps to stop collection activity.
"I'll have the roast duck with the mango salsa."

User avatar
jkorosi
Posts: 1614
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 6:22 pm

Post by jkorosi »

Hexxenhammer wrote: So, ask the collector what you need to do to cease collection activity. This usually means writing or faxing them a letter saying you want no calls or letters to such and such a phone number and address. If they call you after that, they're breaking the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).
Cool enough; but the collector is still owed money. Without being able to call or contact a debtor, how are you supposed get your money?

Oops, nevermind - didn't see the above.

I had a run-in with a debt collector a few years ago. It wasn't too significant a debt, and I managed to get it all paid off...but what a hassle! Never again.

What bothered me about their tactics isn't so much the calling itself, but how they handled it. I was dealing for a few weeks with a nice lady, who had set me up a payment plan and everything, and it was going great...until somebody decided I could be coerced to pay more...so I was "handed" over to this guy. Very aggressive.

He said, "Is there any way you can pay this off faster? Because we've reviewed the payment plan, and they've decided it is not acceptable." He asked me if there was anywhere else I could get the money. He asked all kinds of invasive questions about how much I made at work, and whom I lived with. When I told him I lived with my parents, he practically commanded me to ask them for money. I told him it wouldn't work, he told me, condescendingly, "ask anyway, they'll understand". When I told him I had applied for a new job that might pay more, he wanted to amend the payment plan to reflect my new wage (so in December, you can start paying $50 more every check?) - I hadn't even gotten the job yet. The last straw was when he informed me that I HAD to get a checking account, give them the number, and have my check direct-deposited. "We need proof that you're going to stick to the plan" he said, by way of justification. I'd had enough. I wrote a letter to the company itself, demanding that I would only deal with the nice lady I'd been talking to previously. It was a nearly traumatic experience, and I didn't know how to deal with it because I knew nothing about debt collectors (I know a bit more now).

I read the FDCPA, and most of it seems all right...but things like "the debt collection agency's name on the envelope" wouldn't bother me at all. What bothers me is the pressure, especially to defer priority to this debt rather than hospital bills for example (because, he said, they'll always give you a few months leniency), or insisting that you borrow money from family members, or otherwise create some other kind of debt, to pay off this debt. Those are things I think should be illegal.

User avatar
gnome
Posts: 23202
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:40 am
Location: New Port Richey, FL

Post by gnome »

I'm glad for this opportunity to give some feedback. I don't currently have a lot of bill collectors calling me, but I've been there in the past. Some I don't mind dealing with, but others... well, let's just say, is it considered useful to make it personal to the debtor? Is it acceptable practice, if not standard?

To me, the only useful purpose of the phone call is to request collection, negotiate terms with the caller, and express whether the terms are satisfactory and explain the consequences if it is not.

Is there any place for calling the debtor a "deadbeat," or pressing into the details of their financial problem? Do you guys really want to hear the sob story, or do you just want to know whether we intend to pay?

One particular example sticks in my head... my girlfriend got stuck with a hospital bill for appendicitis. Insurance partially covered it, but the rest was large enough that she simply couldn't afford it at the moment. The bill collector declared to her "The hospital isn't a bank." -- I think that was completely uncalled for... implying that she should have opted not to recieve surgery if she couldn't afford it? That's the rudest thing I'd ever heard a bill collector say. Not that I'm holding you personally responsible, but I'd love the opinion of someone in the industry... is it a tactic to actually increase collections? Does it work? Or is it someone taking enjoyment from being rude just because the debtor is not in much of a position to complain?