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Debt Collection Techniques

July 15, 2019

Falling into debt is unfortunate on many levels. Debt can damage your credit, especially if you fall behind on any repayment schedules. Some types of debt are preferable to others, but being debt free is always the best state. One of the negative things which can stem from having debt is dealing with communication from debt collectors. Debt collection is rarely a pleasure to deal with. Although some collectors are much more polite than others, having to talk to a collector at all is just an unpleasant experience all around. Collectors are hired solely for the purpose of tracking you down to repay your debt. This means that they have no reservations about repeatedly pressing to pay what you owe. Even if you happen to deal with a very polite collector, this type of situation gets annoying very rapidly. 

Debt Collection & the FDCPA

In this post, we will go over a few of the more commonly used techniques of debt collectors. If you fall behind on any repayment schedules, it’s very likely that you will encounter one of these debt collection techniques. Then, after we go over techniques, we’ll briefly review some of the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. The FDCPA protects consumers from predatory debt collection behavior. If you happen to fall into debt, it’s important that you know and understand what the FDCPA provides. 

Calling Friends or Relatives 

One technique used by debt collectors is making telephone calls to friends or relatives. In some cases, debt collectors may use this technique when they are unable to reach a debtor directly. The logic of this technique is straightforward. Collectors call friends or relatives because they’re aware of the social pressure that such calls will generate. Having debt is one thing, but having people in our immediate social circle know about our debt is another thing entirely. We usually go to considerable lengths to ensure that our financial blemishes are covered up. This is especially the case when we’re talking about friends or relatives. Simply put, if people in our immediate social circle become aware of serious financial trouble, then this could harm our reputation. Again, debt collectors are aware of this, and that’s why they use this technique.  

Calling Your Employer 

Another technique commonly used by collectors is making calls to your employer. This debt collection technique has a similar effect as the previous technique. But this technique has another type of effect as well. Not only can a call to an employer negatively affect a person’s reputation, it can also jeopardize a person’s job altogether. It’s a well-known fact that employer’s do not like employees with financial problems. Employees with financial problems may be perceived as less stable, less focused on work, more prone to job hopping, and so forth. Collectors are sure to be aware of this fact. Collectors know that contacting an employer can put a real fire under a debtor. The fear of losing one’s job will spur almost any person to action. Is this tactic a bit undignified? Sure, but collectors don’t really care about how their behavior will be perceived, they care about results. And if they can get results by calling your employer, then they will do so. 

Harassment or Intimidation 

Another debt collection technique which collectors occasionally use is harassment or intimidation. This type of behavior is protected by the FDCPA, but that doesn’t mean that collectors will always avoid it. Plus, collectors will try to harass or intimidate in ways which are “borderline” or conceivably not covered by the FDCPA. In any case, if you fall into debt, you’re likely to encounter behavior of this type to one degree or another. Collectors may harass you in a variety of different ways. They may use obscene language, or yell at you during the call. They may use overly aggressive tones. What’s more, they may call you at times or occasions which are highly inconvenient. Collectors may try to intimidate you by threatening to sue you to collect the balance you owe. Or, they may say that a wage garnishment is imminent, or that you may be arrested. Some of these tactics are specifically forbidden by the FDCPA, but again, some collectors may still use them. 

Fortunately, the FDCPA provides many types of relief for debtors. The FDCPA forbids harassment, bodily threats, and certain types of intimidation tactics. The FDCPA also provides that debtors can request that collectors cease any attempts to contact them at their place of employment or certain times of day. For a full discussion of the debt collection prohibitions in the FDCPA, we encourage readers to review our post on this topic

Call MCC for Help 

The attorneys at Mackay, Caswell & Callahan, P.C., understand the unique issues faced by those with significant debt. Tax debt resolution is something that we spend a great deal of time on. We know the difficulties associated with overcoming debt, including the troubles involved with interfacing with third-party collectors and the IRS. If you’re facing debt collection, we can walk you through your options for resolving the debt. In almost every situation, having a tax professional assist you through the process of resolving your debt is advised. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today if you need assistance. Get in touch with our top New York City tax attorneys today to learn more. 

Image credit: Marco Verch 

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