Credit Card Debt

Saving Your Sanity: How to Deal with Debt Collectors

When Debt Collectors Call
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No matter how many times you’ve been contacted by a debt collection agency, the calls are never easy. And getting multiple collection calls every day can be extremely stressful.

Debt collectors can be unpleasant, unscrupulous, and downright rude when they call you. And you may feel like you have little control over the situation when they call. But ignoring them or getting angry over the phone won’t make them go away. In fact, debt collectors might just push harder to get you to pay. So how can you keep your cool the next time a debt collector calls you? Learn how to deal with debt collectors with these six tips.

Stay positive

It can be hard to remain optimistic when you’re getting collection calls, but having a positive attitude could change the way you deal with debt stress. If you let a collection call ruin your day, you’re playing into the hand of the debt collector. But if you’re able to think of the situation as temporary, you may be able to handle the call better. Remind yourself that you will get through this rough patch, and you may be able to handle the stress a little more easily.

Do your homework

Don’t assume that just because a debt collector is calling you that their claims and demands are legitimate. It’s possible that they have the wrong person, that you’ve already paid your debt, that your debt has expired, or that their tactics are illegal. Brush up on your rights as well as your obligations with regard to debt collection calls so you feel more confident in your discussions with them. The last thing you want to do is commit to paying debt that isn’t yours.

Learn how to get out of credit card debt here.

Prepare yourself

Feeling ready ahead of time can help reduce your stress when a debt collector calls. One practical way to prepare for the call is to save the debt collector’s number into your phone so that you know who is calling. It’s also wise to keep a written record of your conversations–who called you (name, phone number, and address), what they said, the name of and the amount due to the original creditor, and the date and time they called.

This helps you remember what a debt collector has said to you in the past, and how you would have responded if you were cool, calm, and collected. Debt collectors often try to catch you off guard. Keeping a log and preparing your responses in advance could counter their aggressive tactics and put you back in control.

Slow down

When you’re on the phone with a debt collector, don’t forget to slow down and breathe. If they ask you a question you don’t know how to respond to, pause and collect your thoughts before answering. Try to control the pace of the conversation by responding when you’re ready so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Sometimes they may create awkward silence to trick you into filling the silence and giving them details that might not be favorable to you later.

If you think the debt is yours and that you’re still obligated to pay it, don’t admit to owing the debt until you’re sure. You could explain that you are unable pay anything right now but that you are looking into the validity of the debt. Don’t offer too many personal or financial details, or why you can’t pay them right now. It’s none of their business, and they could use those details to try to get you to commit to a payment. If you do want to pay the debt, don’t send them a check until you have a settlement offer in writing.

Know when to walk away

Part of learning how to deal with debt collectors is knowing when not to. If a debt collector is making you frustrated, angry, or stressed out—hang up. Tell them they can call you later, once you’ve had time to think. Or, let them know that you don’t think you owe the debt and that they should send you the information on it. Take some time to decompress, gather your thoughts, and prepare.

Until you are ready to talk to them again, ignore the calls. Don’t pick up the phone from a number you don’t recognize. Remember that when a debt collector calls, you don’t have to answer. In fact, if you are angry or stressed, answering the call could be worse than ignoring it. After walking away from the situation and clearing your mind, you may be able to handle the call more easily.

Take care of yourself

Don’t underestimate how important it is to take care of yourself when you’re stressed—it could make a huge difference in the way you approach a challenging situation. Stress that builds and is left unchecked could lead to anxiety, depression, or a feeling of helplessness. It can affect your sleep, your outlook on life, and your relationships with the people you love.

So, part of figuring out how to deal with debt collectors is learning how to take care of yourself. Whether it’s exercising, spending time with loved ones, reading a book, or watching TV, taking your mind off the calls could help you handle your stress better.

Get help with your debt

The stress of constant collection calls and the feeling that you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of debt can feel all-consuming—especially if you don’t see any way of putting your debt behind you. So, if you’re struggling with debt and the collection calls just keep coming, it might be time to take action.

Freedom Debt Relief is here to help you understand your options for dealing with your debt, including our debt settlement program. Our Certified Debt Consultants can help you find a solution that will put you on the path to a better financial future. Find out if you qualify right now and start relieving your debt stress today.

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John Russo is a Creative Manager at Freedom Financial Network. His goal is to make the world of personal finance more accessible so that everyday people can find the right financial solutions for themselves. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, reading pretty much anything, and spending time with his fiancée and two cats.