How to Make Debt Collectors Stop Calling
It’s common to feel anxiety when you have debts that you are unable to pay. This feeling is increased by the phone calls you receive from debt collection agencies. These calls can often be threatening or intimidating as the collection agents try different tactics to try to get you to make a payment. After a phone call like that, you might be worried, thinking that these threats are real. In this article, we will cover exactly what they can do and how to make debt collectors stop calling.
What is a Debt Collector?
A debt collection agency is a company that specializes in recovering unpaid debts. If you don’t make your debt payments, a debt collector may contact you to collect money that you owe on a credit card, line of credit, or loan.
You’ll usually receive a notice in writing before a collection agency contacts you to collect the debt you owe.
The written notice should include:
- the name of debt collection agency
- the name of the person or business that you owe money to
- the amount that you owe
What Can Debt Collectors Do?
In addition to calling you and requesting you make a payment, a debt collector is allowed to do the following:
- Contact your employer: A debt collection agency can contact your employer to confirm your employment status, obtain contact information such as telephone number or address or enforce a garnishment of your wages. However, when contacting your employer, a collection agent CANNOT discuss any personal details regarding your debt.
- Contact your friends and family: A debt collector can contact your friends and family and obtain contact information such as telephone numbers or addresses. If your family or friend has co-signed a debt, the debt collector can contact them directly to make payments.
- Come to your home: Typically they will not come to your house as it is too expensive to send an agent to collect. However, should the debtor have valid security, an asset such as a car or your furniture, then they may come to your home or workplace to seize the property.
- Threaten you with Bankruptcy: Some bill collectors have begun threatening individuals with an involuntary Bankruptcy, meaning they will petition the court to file you into Bankruptcy. While in theory, this is a possibility, in reality, it is rare in the case of personal debts. Debt collectors generally use these tactics as threats only.
- Ask for payment: Collection agencies step into the shoes of the original creditor when collecting a debt and their rights to collect are the same that is allowed in the contract that you originally signed. They can only collect as much and charge interest as per the terms you agreed on with the original lender.
- Settle for less: They can only settle for less with the authorization from the original creditor or if they have purchased the debt. Pro tip: If you are settling on debt with them always ensure that the agreement is in writing prior to making any payment.
- Take you to court: Yes, only if the original creditor had the right to do so. However, given the cost associated with this, it is unlikely that it will happen for a small debt. (There is no given rule on what a small debt is but in our observation the minimum debt that a creditor would take to the courts is approximately $2,500.00). More likely they are making this threat in order to scare you into making a payment. Who wants to go to Court?
- Freeze your bank accounts: Only if the Court allows the creditor to do so.
- Garnish your wages: Only if the Court allows the creditor to do so.
What Can’t Debt Collectors Do?
In the Province of B.C., the law that covers the guidelines that debtor collectors must follow is outlined in the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. When dealing with debt collectors it is important to know your rights.
As outlined in the Act a debt collector:
- Can only call between 1 and 5 p.m. on a Sunday.
- Must not call you before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays.
- Must not call you, a family member, or friend at any time on a statutory holiday.
- Must not discuss the details of your debt with another person without your permission. However, they can contact a family member, friend, or acquaintance to confirm your contact information.
- Must not contact you in a way that will cost you money.
- Must not publish or threaten to publish details of the debt except to a credit reporting agency.
- Must not use threatening, profane, or intimidating language.
- Must not put excessive pressure on you.
- Must not threaten to sue you unless they are actually taking legal action.
- Can’t try to collect any amount that is more than what you owe. They can’t apply their own interest rates or fees, but interest can be charged at the rate in your initial credit agreement.
How Can I Get the Calls to Stop?
A debt collector is allowed to contact you to request payment; however, you have the right to ask that they only contact you in writing. To do this, it is best to notify them in writing either by email, registered mail, or fax and to keep records of your attempts to contact them.
This will typically get the calls to quiet down but most often in the short term. The debt collector will usually transfer it to another collector and you will have to start the whole process over again. This also doesn’t solve the issue that the debt is still outstanding and the calls can continue from different collection agencies until the debt is repaid.
Another option is to file a Consumer Proposal or a Bankruptcy. Once either one of these Federal Government approved options is filed, a stay of proceedings is created which means that no collection agency or creditor can contact you or try to collect any money from you.
Before you know it the calls will stop. You will be able to regain some peace and quiet in your life and forever rid yourself of the anxiety that typically comes with juggling debts.
We are Here to Help
To learn more about how to get the calls to stop, reach out to us. At Derek L. Chase & Associates, we offer a free initial consultation so it will cost nothing to contact one of our experienced staff members. We will meet with you in person, over that phone, or over video conference to discuss any and all options available to you.