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How to Deal with Bill Collectors When You Have No Means to Pay

Updated on December 1, 2008


During the current economic times more and more people are having difficulties paying their bills.  This means that more bill collectors are calling.  This does not mean you have to be afraid of the phone, instead take charge even if you do not have the means to pay the bill or to make arrangements.

Before you get started make sure that you understand your current situation completely.  Take a look at your debts and what if anything you have coming in.  This will give you a better picture of what is going on.  Before you call or talk to any bill collector make sure that you have all of your information together this includes knowing how much money you can pay even if it is $5 a month to start (they might not accept these arrangements but send the money if you can).  

Create a plan that you can live with you can make a one month, three month or six month plan and then let the company/companies know that you are willing to look at the situation again at the end of that one, three or six month period.

So what is the best way to deal with bill collectors even when you have no way to make a payment?  The best way to deal with a bill collector is to follow these steps:

  1. Accept the phone calls – Ignoring the calls only prolongs the situation and makes it worse.  Talking to the company lets them know that you are trying to work with them even if you are not able to pay.  

  2. Be completely honest – Tell the company your current situation but do not lie because then you have to keep the story going and if you get caught in a lie it won’t help your case.

  3. Remain calm and positive – Being polite and positive will bring about positive results.  Although the representative might not be positive to you (there are many rude people out there) you should remain positive at all times.

  4. Do not argue – Arguing does not accomplish anything. The situation that you are in is frustrating already and talking to bill collectors does not help the situation at all but arguing does not solve the problem so if you find that you are arguing or getting angry then you need to end the call quickly and civilly.

  5. Call back for a new representative – If you are finding that the representative is rude and will not work with you, call back.  Find someone that you can work with you and then make sure that you stay in contact with that individual.

  6. Take detail notes – It is important to take detailed notes on your conversations and any arrangements that you have made with the company.  Make sure to write down contact names and numbers including dates and times so that you have written proof of what transpired.

  7. Do not ignore the situation – The problem will not just go away, in fact it will get increasingly worse if you do nothing at all. Dealing with the situation head on is the best way to correct the situation.

  8. Make arrangements only if you can keep them – Only promise to pay if you know that you can pay.  Making arrangements and breaking them will not put you in good standing with the company.  So be very honest and up front if you are not able to make specific arrangements.

  9. Do not give the creditors your account information or bounce checks – Having them draw money directly from your bank account can only lead to further problems such as taking out too much money or having no money available. Bouncing checks breaks your payment arrangements with the company and can send you to their legal department.

  10. Ask what type of programs the company offers – It just might be that your current situation can be worked with.  Especially if you have insurance the insurance can cover payments until you are in a better situation.

So follow these steps and take charge of the situation.  Hopefully it will not seem as bad as it is once you take a look at what you have and what you owe.  Try to get your bills paid down slowly while holding on to any money that you can.  Making even a small effort is much better than making no effort at all or avoiding the situation.  

If the situation does not improve and the calls are continuing to increase you might have to take different steps such as borrowing money from friends and family.



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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Linda Lou - You can use the same criteria for collection agencies as well.

    • profile image

      Linda Lou 8 years ago

      This would be true for orginal creditors only!! Collection agencies are a whole different ball game!! Check out my hub on how to deal with them and get them off your credit report!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Bill collectors shouldn't be calling you about student loans. You can get a forebearance or deferment just talk to the loan companies.

    • profile image

      octomom 8 years ago

      ok...gotta start talking to my bill collectors regarding my student loans but you know i gotta feed all these kids lol

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 9 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you!! Not an easy thing to deal with in these times.

    • tourmaline2777 profile image

      tourmaline2777 9 years ago from Chicago

      This is a great answer! Good tips!