How to Talk to a Debt Collector
Protect Against Abuse
Hopefully getting the debt collector's name and asking to record the conversation is enough to keep him or her from growing abusive. But if the debt collector chooses to turn to more aggressive tactics, there are ways to deal with it.
"Sadly, there are collectors who aren't very smart, and they will yell, scream, use racial slurs, even make threats of violence," he says. "When that happens, the consumer does not have to tolerate it."
For starters, you can threaten to call the Better Business Bureau in the collector's area (which you should know, having gathered the name, company and location of the debt collector earlier in the phone call). From there you can escalate to threatening to call the attorney general in that person's state, as Bartmann notes that every attorney general's office will have a consumer protection division of some kind that should be used to dealing with debt collectors. And you can even go all the way up to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal agency that has taken an aggressive stance against bad debt collectors.
Don't hesitate to act on all three threats. And Bartmann says you can also protect yourself by getting a lawyer. While that may seem difficult if you're in dire financial straits, he points out that most areas will have a legal aid society of some kind that is used to dealing with such issues. Going to them -- preferably with a recording of the debt collector's abusive behavior -- can be a great way to get a rogue debt collector off your back.
Most of all, don't let yourself get intimidated.
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