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One of the worst things about being in debt is the stress. The less money you have, the more you stress about it. I...
One of the worst things about being in debt is the stress. The less money you have, the more you stress about it. If you have too much debt, your stress levels can spike every time the phone rings, for fear it is a collection agent. Luckily, there are ways to deal with collection calls that make it easier to reduce your stress levels and get on with your life.
Before you answer the phone, it's important to remember the goal of the person on the other end of the phone: It's to get you to agree to pay whatever debt you have in front of you, even if you don't actually owe the money. Collection agencies buy up debt in job lots, and then try to recoup the money from the alleged debtor. Some of these debts may have already been paid, others may be invalid because of the statute of limitations, and some may even belong to someone else.
None of this matters.
Collection agents are much more interested in getting you to pay than confirming the validity of the debt, which puts the onus squarely on your head.
In contrast to the collection agent, your goal should be to end the call without either admitting liability or providing personal information to them. The main reason for this is that the last thing you want is to agree to pay a debt only to find out later that you weren't actually responsible for it. And, there is no way they can prove anything over the phone. That's why they want you to agree to everything over the phone: They have the advantage because they don't need to prove anything. What you need to do is get them to agree to communicate in writing.
Talking intelligently to a collection agent is hard, especially as they are trained to try to get you off balance so they can control the conversation. The best way to avoid this is to use a script. Write down what you want to say and how you want to say it. It makes it much easier to stay on track.
The key to the conversation is staying polite and cooperative without acknowledging the debt. One way to do this is to always refer to it as the "alleged" debt. What you want to do is ask them for written proof that you not only owe the money in question, but also that they are legally empowered to collect it. You need three things: notably, a copy of the original agreement, proof of the original debt, and proof they have the right to collect it.
Do not make any deals or even acknowledge liability of the debt without receiving these three documents.
The last thing to remember is never to give them any financial information over the phone that they do not already have. Even if the debt is valid, the collection agency does not need your bank account information or authorization to make automatic debits.