General Question

Berserker's avatar

What are collection agencies like? How should one deal with them?

Asked by Berserker (33470points) February 19th, 2010

I’m poor and I can’t pay anything. I’ll spare you the sob story, and in exchange, please don’t pester me about responsibilities about payments and crap. I know only too well.
So I’ll just get to the question at hand.
Third party agencies attempt to try and collect the debt, I know that much. They’re regulated to many laws but are apparently still very painful to deal with. What can they or can they not do, and how to deal with them? Also, if I’m currently taking payment arrangements with the service providers themselves, (Not sure if they’re the first party or if that’s something else.) can they still sick collection agencies after you anyway? I need to know what to do in case they decide to. (I don’t know how any of this works so it’s confusing.)

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13 Answers

slick44's avatar

dont answer 1 800 numbers on your phone

tragiclikebowie's avatar

They will call you multiple times a day. Send you letters. If they get a handle on any personal info, they can and will use it. Don’t answer the phone. If they get your work info they can call you at work (but you can stop that somehow I believe).

tinyfaery's avatar

Most companies will not send an account to collections until they have exhausted their own efforts. The collection agency gets a cut of the money so it makes more sense for businesses to collect the money themselves.

There are certain time periods when they cannot call you, but they are persistent fuckers.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

—Pay what you can afford
—Stop putting anything on credit card. Use cash only !!!
—Protect your housing by paying taxes, rent or mortgage
—Give something every month to charity
—Get a realistic budget for each month and stick to it.
—Collection agencies can call – Just tell them you are using a budget and they will be paid what you can afford. Make sure you pay.

lilikoi's avatar

They are surely not regulated enough!!!

They will call you incessantly – there are laws as to when they are allowed to call so make sure they follow them. They will send you letters. They will leave you obscure automated messages that neither state the name of the caller, the name of the person they are trying to reach, or the nature of their business. When you do not take the calls – assuming they are scammers trying to steal your identity – they will call from a different number, and leave the same idiotic messages. Call the appropriate local government agency to verify the calls are legit before you pay them.

jaytkay's avatar

re: What are collection agencies

Sometimes they work for the original debt owner. A credit card company might hire a firm to pester you for money.

Other times, they actually buy debts. For example, a city might take $1,000 for the right to collect $10,000 in old parking fines. The city doesn’t have to employ debt collectors, the buyer gambles they can make a lot more than $1,000.

lillycoyote's avatar

Educate yourself. You are responsible for your debts, but you also have rights in terms of what a debt collector can and cannot to in the process of collecting that debt.

Start with this from the Federal Trade Commission Debt Collection FAQs. A Guide for Consumer

There are also other sites/resources on the web that will help you get through this.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I agree with lily. The most important thing to do is to educate yourself. Here is some more reading. The Consumerist has lots of articles about dealing with debt collection agencies. At this point the best things you can do are educate yourself about debt collection—what they can and cannot say—and (honestly) the laws around recording phone conversations in your state.

jca's avatar

just because a debt collection agency calls you does not mean that you cannot still pay the original place you owe directly. you can tell the dollection agency “I am going to pay so and so directly” and although the collection agency won’t be happy, it’s your right and it’s probably safest to pay the original people directly anyway. ly

nowadays they’ll put you on “robo calls” so a machine will call you multiple times per day, automatically.

Haleth's avatar

Most collection agencies “buy” the debt from the original company and take on the risk of collecting it. If you talk to them, you should be able to set up a payment plan, but if you can’t pay the plan on the due date, they will charge you additional fees. I dealt with a collection agency once and set up a payment plan with them. They’re really awful and rude, so it’s probably better to pay the original company directly if you’re able. If you send them written notice that you don’t want them calling you at work, they are usually legally prevented from doing this.

thriftymaid's avatar

Read the law.

Remember that when you make a payment plan and do not keep it, the statute of limitations may start over.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

3rd party debt collectors are bound by numerous state laws. debt collectors must take and pass a written state law test to be hired to work there. not all states have the same laws. typical laws are like these.
Debtors are protected under these laws. the agency can be fined for breaking laws. some laws are as simple as if they call you after a certain time, and before a certain time. or if they talk with a spouse or other 3rd party in your home phone. or if they call you at work after you write them not to call you at work. and there’s a whole lot more laws. If they swear at you. if they threaten to sue you, but don’t sue you. calling more than once per day without your permission. In Texas (if I remember correctly) if they don’t say the mini miranda (This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information will be used for this purpose) on every contact, they’re in violation. some other states too, some states just not as often. They are not allowed o dunn your answering machine.
It’s just best to find out your consumer rights in your state.
Many debt collectors know that most debtors don’t know they have rights, and they gain leverage quickly and use it against you in order to intimidate and bully you into paying.
@thriftymaid, @empresspixie and @lillycote have excellent links for you to follow up to get this info.

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