I have heard it from so many people that I know and meet. Bill collectors are driving them crazy. First and foremost, stop being embarrassed and afraid of being in the situation you are in now. In some cases it’s not your fault and regardless it is what it is, and we need to get you out of that place and on the road to financial independence again.
First thing you need to do is every time a collector calls you, put them on notice that you will no longer accept phone calls and that under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act if they continue to do so they will be in violation of Federal Law. This will not stop all of them but it will certainly get some of them to take notice. Inform them that you will only accept communication about this possible debt in writing.
Now here is the secret step. You must get an address and reference number for your account, because you need to send them a cease and desist letter. This is very easy to write use the same language I just used a few lines above. Include your address, name, date and reference number. Make sure you send the letter certified return receipt, make a copy and file it for your records.
You will find that many of these collectors will be less than motivated to give you this information; they know what you are about to say. So you may have to ask them where you should send the payment to and what is the reference number to put on the check. I had someone tell me that they did exactly this and the collector got all defensive, saying, “Why are you sending payment? Why do you want my information, etc.” Seriously but after giving the information up and was told that they would be getting a C&D (cease and desist letter) they said, “I knew it.” Really come on, stop putting up with this garbage.
If they continue to call you there are literally hundreds of attorney out there now that will be glad to handle your case on a contingency basis. Many law firms now do nothing but Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) violations; its time to take back the control and stop fearing or having anxiety when your phone rings.
Finally if you are receiving calls on your cell phone from collectors using an auto dialer, notify the caller that they are calling your cell phone and you no longer wish them to call your cell phone ever. Send a certified return receipt letter similar to the above letter. This time if a collector continues to call your cell phone using the auto dialer the penalties are far more serious.
Under the Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 penalties will apply. In addition, a “forfeiture penalty” of up to $10,000 per violation may be imposed. For a continuing violation, treble damages, or $30,000 per violation, may be assessed. The statute, however, caps the forfeiture penalty for continuing violations at $1,000,000 for a single act or a failure to act. Considering the volume of calls placed by third party debt collectors, the potential penalties are staggering.
The Truth In Caller ID Act also includes criminal fines of up to $10,000 for each violation, with the potential of treble damages for continuing violations. The statute also provides for imprisonment for violations.
Penalties for certain TCPA violations begin at $500 per call and can be tripled to $1,500 per call. In a purported class action lawsuit, such penalties could easily put a collection agency out of business. Considering most insurance companies are specifically excluding TCPA class action coverage, collection agencies will be digging deeply into their own pockets to defend and/or settle such claims.
Stopping collectors from calling you on the phone will make a substantial difference in the quality of life you have. It will give you a little breathing room to get things resolved, whether filing bankruptcy or negotiating with your creditors.