These are tough times, so it’s natural that millions of us have fallen behind in our bills or are still catching up. It’s important to take care of our financial obligations, but it’s just as critical to know your rights about debt collections. Just because you owe money, that’s no reason to tense up each time the phone rings!
For many of us, a cell is our primary phone, so it’s natural that the first place a collections company reaches us is in our purse or pocket. Unfortunately, this also means that they can disrupt our work between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., the only hours when they’re permitted to call.
It’s against federal law to call a cell phone to collect a debt, so many companies have changed their applications with text like, “signing this document gives us your express written consent to call you on your cell phone.” Companies without disclaimers like these are not permitted to call your cell phone to collect a debt, but if your debt has been transferred to a collection agency, they may call your cell within certain guidelines.
So, how do you get debt collectors to STOP calling your cell phone?
- First and foremost: work out a payment plan and stick to it. If you can negotiate a schedule to repay, it’s in your best interests to do so, as the calls should stop as soon as they start seeing your payments.
- Use Mr. Number so your phone will recognize incoming calls from collection agencies. Change your settings to send them direct to VM or pick up/hangup.
- Report abusive debt collectors via our app. Take a moment to describe what happened, and your comments appear on our site for others to see.
- If you don’t believe you owe money, let them know via Certified Mail within 30 days of receiving your first notice. After they receive your note, a collection agency may only call again after they send you written confirmation that the debt is yours.
- Use Certified Mail with Return Receipt to send a written request to stop calling your cell and/or home phone. After a debt collector receives this letter, they may only reply to let you know how or if they intend to proceed with the collections process.
- Got a lawyer? Tell them to send all notices to your legal representative.
- If debt collectors ignore written communications, keep records of their calls to hold them accountable. You may even be able to collect a cash award if a judge determines that they’ve violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
- IMPORTANT: if you have a new cell number and you’re receiving collection calls meant for a previous owner, the fastest way to resolve the issue is to go back to the phone company and request a new number. For obvious reasons, debt collectors will be skeptical if you continually insist, “Parker isn’t at this number anymore, and I don’t know how to reach him!”
- Finally, if nothing else works, report a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. Filing a complaint is time-consuming, but it’s the only way to stop abusive debt collectors.
For more information about dealing with debt collectors, visit these sites or watch the video below:
- Federal Trade Commission: Facts for Consumers
- FTC: Complaint Assistant
- FTC: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- FTC: Fair Credit Reporting Act links
Thanks for reading, and let us know if you have questions!
Director of Community
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