Or are consumers just getting more irresponsible?
Hold on a second. I'm no advocate of debt collectors using rude language, calling late at night, using scare tactics, or anything like that, as described in this story. Being a bully isn't the right approach to get people to pay up.
But it may be necessary.
Because if you're a consumer, it's easy to think that all you need to do is call the number on your TV screen and you can pay off you debt for less than 50% of what you owe! So why in the world would you give anything to some rude dude on the phone?
I promote several debt settlement and other debt reduction programs here. And all have outstanding BBB reports, and are well-known in the industry. For the right situation, debt settlement makes sense. And you can save 50%. But it's not easy, and it's not for everyone.
But the average consumer doesn't know that. Or at least they don't want to know.
So the debt collectors have to get tough, right? They have a job to do. And if enough people walk away from their debts, then we all pay. The banks raise fees. They get into shady deals like giving mortgages to people who have no business qualifying for one. They scam those who do qualify. Not always, of course. But if we as consumers don't pay our bills, then the business model doesn't work.
Again, I'm not saying that bill collectors should be allowed to harass people. Well, maybe some people like my deadbeat friend Joe (sorry, just kidding).
But I would imagine that most people who get abused by debt collectors aren't living up to their end of the bargain - like they don't pick up the phone, or make no real effort to start paying back what they owe.
So, if the debt collectors are starting to call your phone number, follow these tips:
- Don't ignore the calls! Hey, you owe the money. The least you can do is pick up the phone and explain your situation. Then do you best to come to some agreement to pay your bills. If you ignore the calls, expect the collectors to start calling at odd hours, or call you at work, call your neighbors and relatives, or worse!
- Be polite. Don't yell. And if the bill collector calling you gets nasty, tell them to speak appropriately or that you'll hang up. And follow through if necessary. But if you want a fight, and you want more serious action to be taken against you, try arguing and you'll get what you asked for.
- Don't lie. If you can't pay next week, don't say you will. If you can't afford $100, ask to pay $50. If you can't afford $50, ask to pay $25. Then pay.
- Have a plan. And do it BEFORE you start getting phone calls. Look for ways to save money. Cancel your cable TV. Get a lesser cell phone plan. Stop eating out every Friday night. Sell stuff you don't need. At least until things get better. It's you responsibility to pay what you owe. Then, you'll be in better position to work out a deal when the dreaded collections calls start coming.
- Get everything in writing. If you do come to an agreement, ask for it in writing. Have it emailed or faxed to you if necessary, to get it fast. Even though you sometimes hear "this message may be recorded..." don't expect that to help you when the written agreement doesn't match what you agreed upon with the agent on the phone.
- Keep records. Of every call, and write down the name of the person you spoke to, the time of the call, the content of the conversation. The more information you have, the easier it will be next time.
- Know your rights. Read these Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers. This way you'll know if they're crossing the line, or just doing their job.
Just realize that debt stinks. There is no easy way out, "secret method", or quick fix. But no matter what, ignoring the calls from the bill collectors WON'T make life easier for you.
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