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Fighting the Good Fight – Dealing With Collection Agencies

Updated on August 1, 2010

The phone rings and you rush to answer it only to discover that on the other line is a debt collector. If you've been through this before, your heart sinks as soon as you hear, "Hello, Is this Mr./Ms. X?"

"Yes.." you say.

"My name is John, and I'm calling on behalf of XXXX. I want to talk to you about your debt." 

And so it begins. If John is polite (and he usually will be the first time) you may accept the payment arrangement he offers. If you can't afford to pay, or have the good sense to know that your debt is outside the statute for legal collection in your state, you may refuse. But can John really get nasty with you?  No. 


Collection agents have the right to call you at home, but they don't have the right to call you at home and harass you. Now, that doesn't mean that collection agents can't take an unpleasant tone or even be rude, but it does mean that they are legally prohibited from doing any of the following:

  • Swearing at you
  • Calling you names
  • Telling your family members you owe a debt
  • Threatening to physically assault you
  • Threatening to sue you if they either cannot or have no real intention of doing so
  • Threatening to publish your name and the fact that you owe a debt 
  • Threatening to tell anyone about your debt

Calling At Odd Hours

What you need to understand about "John" and all debt collectors like him is that they work on commission. All collection agencies work differently, but in some cases John may not get paid at all unless he can collect a debt from you. Thus, his livelihood depends at least partially upon you making a payment.

Is that your problem? No. You know all too well that sending John a payment would just reset the statute of limitations on your debt and result in a lawsuit.

In his zeal to recover your debt, John may call you at odd hours. Getting a telephone call from a debt collector in the middle of the night is sadly common, but its also illegal.

Although the FDCPA strictly stipulates that debt collectors may only call you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your time zone, this isn't strictly enforced. What is strictly enforced is the fact that you shouldn't find yourself losing sleep to incessant telephone calls from collectors simply because you refused to pay an old debt. 

Making the Calls Stop

Lucky for you, you're familiar with the FDCPA and know your rights? Right? 

If so, you're well aware of the fact that you can mail John a letter notifying him that he and other representatives of his company are forever barred from contacting you. Under the law, they may then contact you again only if they wish to inform you that...drumroll please...they won't be calling anymore or if they need to notify you of a lawsuit. 

Because the potential for a lawsuit is a clear and present risk with recently accrued debts, its best to only request that the company cease and desist if you are certain that the debt has already cleared the statute of limitations in your state of residence and is now time-barred. 


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      Transportation Collection Agency 7 years ago

      Great post....keep up the good work.