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Q: I have a little bit of debt that I’m paying off slowly but surely, but I can’t get debt collectors to stop calling me! Sometimes it’s several times a day. How can I deal with them?
A: Debt collectors can be hard to deal with. These companies are trying to recover as much of the debt as they can as fast as they can, and often do not care how they get it done, as long as it gets done. Debt collectors have been known to call repeatedly, threaten lawsuits, and even go so far as to threaten jail time or physical violence. Many people pay quicker just to get the debt collectors off their backs, and this encourages them to continue the abuse.
Because of all the harassment and abuse from debt collection agencies, the government has passed laws to protect consumers. The most important one regarding consumers dealing with debt collectors is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It lays out what collection agencies can and cannot do to recover these debts. They are not allowed to call you before 8am or after 9pm without your permission, and they are not allowed to harass you. They are also prevented from threatening physical violence or swearing at you.
If the calls are getting out of hand or they have violated one of these practices, notify them in writing via certified mail. Lay out your conditions. Explain to them that if they swear at you again, you will call your lawyer. If you do not want to receive any more calls, explain that to them as well and they will be required to stop. This letter will only stop the calls, however. They can still take you to court if you do not pay, but it will allow you some peace while you try to gather the money together to pay off this debt.