Top 5 FAQs About Dealing with Debt Collectors
The information on this blog is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Such information or materials do not constitute and are not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied on in that respect. We suggest that you consult an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions.
If you’ve fallen behind on bills and allowed your debts to go delinquent for several months, it’s likely that your creditor will sell your debt to a collection agency. Dealing with collectors, especially more aggressive ones, can be a really intense and distressing experience if you don’t know your rights.
We’ve answered some of the most common questions people have about dealing with debt collectors so if you’re ever contacted by one, you know what to do!
1. What questions should I ask a debt collector?
When you’re first contacted by a debt collector, you might feel stressed and confused—especially if you’ve never dealt with a collector before. So what should you do if you’ve been contacted by a collector? Start by asking for the following information:
- The name, address, and phone number of the collector
- The total amount of debt, including any fees or collection costs
- The original creditor
- What the debt is for and when it was first incurred
- Information that determines whether you or someone else owns the debt
Additionally, if the debt collector first contacts you by phone, you should insist that they send notice to you in writing as well. Be sure to keep copies of all the written correspondence between yourself and the debt collector.
2. How do I get debt collectors to stop contacting me?
Believe it or not, you have the right to ask debt collectors to stop contacting you. This does not mean that your debt will go away, but it might alleviate some of the stress of being called by aggressive collectors.
To get debt collectors to stop contacting you, you must send them a written request via mail. In addition to a request that they stop contacting you, the letter should include the following information:
- How they first contacted you (phone, mail, etc.)
- Date of first contact
- Information they gave you about the debt (amount, original lender, etc.)
For documentation purposes, it’s helpful to send your letter via certified mail, requiring the collector to sign upon receipt. That way, you’ll have proof that they got your letter asking them to cease contact.
After you send your letter to them, the collector can send you one last letter to let you know that they received your request to stop contacting you. They are also allowed to send you a letter to let you know that they could sue you—or that they intend to sue you—to recover the debt.
If you're working with an attorney regarding your debt, you should direct the collectors to contact the attorney instead of you. Once you let them know that you’re working with an attorney, they cannot continue to contact you about the debt and must instead go through your representative.
3. How many times can a debt collector call before it’s considered harassment?
While there’s no specific number of times that a debt collector is or isn’t allowed to call you, it is still possible for them to take it too far. According to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), collectors are legally prohibited from using methods to harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact about your debt.
Harassment by a debt collector isn’t always cut and dry and can show up in a lot of different ways. Here are just a few examples of when debt collectors’ efforts might cross the line into harassment:
- Calling repeatedly with the intent to harass, abuse, or annoy you or anyone answering the phone
- Making contact without identifying themselves
- Using profane language
- Threatening violence
- Publishing of a list of people who owe them money (not including reporting to a credit bureau)
If you believe you’re being harassed by a collector, you may wish to consult an attorney who deals with violations of the FDCPA.
4. Can debt collectors call your family, employer, or neighbors?
The short answer is yes, debt collectors can legally call your family, employer, or neighbors.
The longer answer is that debt collectors can only call these people to find out the best way to reach you. They are not allowed to discuss your debt with any of these people, unless the person they’re reaching out to is your spouse, your parents (if you’re a minor), your guardian/executor/administrator, or an attorney representing you with respect to your debt.
Related Article: What Happens to Your Debt When You Die?
5. What happens if you ignore a debt collector?
If you try to ignore a debt collector, it most likely won’t make them stop trying to contact you. It won’t cancel the debt, and you could still potentially be sued or have your debt reported to a credit bureau.
How JG Wentworth could help
JG Wentworth has ample experience working with people facing collectors. In fact, people enrolled in our Debt Resolution Program will often direct collectors to reach out to us to discuss the terms of their debt rather than speaking with the collectors themselves. To learn more about whether our Debt Resolution Program could be right for you, call (888) 505-1794 to speak with one of our debt specialists today.
Additionally, if you are liable for a debt that’s incurring late fees and collection charges, a debt consolidation loan might your best avenue toward paying off the debt—potentially at a lower interest rate. JG Wentworth partners with lenders to offer tailored debt consolidation loans, so you can pay off all your debts and fees at once and make just one monthly payment.*
To explore your debt consolidation options, check out our easy-to-use online tool that instantly gives you personal loan quotes from top lenders.**
Related Article: What’s the Difference Between Debt Consolidation and Debt Resolution?
- What should I do when a debt collector contacts me? Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2022, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-should-i-do-when-a-debt-collector-contacts-me-en-1695/
- How can I stop debt collectors from contacting me? Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2017, October 24). Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/how-can-i-stop-debt-collectors-from-contacting-me-en-1405/
- Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). 15 U.S. Code § 1692C - communication in connection with debt collection. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1692c
- Can debt collectors tell other people, like family, friends, or my employer, about my debt? Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2022, August 24). Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/can-debt-collectors-tell-other-people-like-family-friends-or-my-employer-about-my-debt-en-332/
Tired of dealing with debt collectors?
Fill out our form and we'll be in touch to help you determine the best solution to your debt problem!
*The debt resolution program is provided by JGW Debt Settlement, LLC. JGW Debt Settlement, LLC is licensed/registered to provide debt resolution services in states where licensing/registration is required. Debt resolution program results will vary by individual situation. As such, it may not be suitable for all persons. JG Wentworth does not offer debt resolution services in all states and fees may vary from state to state. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all individuals who enroll complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Savings resulting from successful negotiations may result in tax consequences, please consult with a tax professional regarding these consequences. The use of debt relief services can potentially have an adverse impact on your credit rating, may result in you being subject to collections, and may result in other adverse action by creditors or collection agencies. Read and understand the program contract prior to enrollment. JG Wentworth does not pay or assume any debts or provide legal, financial or tax advice or credit repair services. You should consult with independent professionals for such advice or services. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. JGW Debt Settlement operates in the following states: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, ID, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NM, NY, NC, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, DC, and WI. If a consumer in CT, GA, HI, IL, KA, ME, NH, NJ, OH, RI, SC and VT contacts us we may connect them with a law firm that provides debt resolution services in their state.
**JGW Debt Settlement, LLC d/b/a JG Wentworth ("JG Wentworth") has partnered with Even Financial, Inc to provide this loan referral service. JG Wentworth is not a lender and cannot ultimately decide whether or not you are approved for a loan. JG Wentworth does not determine or influence the amount of money you may receive from using this referral services.