• If you have outstanding debt, they are going to phone.
  • The best course of action is to open up the lines of communication and be transparent about your finances.
  • There are limits to what collection agencies can do. You need to know your rights.
  • Know what you are indebted for.
  • If you are in over your head, it is best to consider debt counselling.

Many of us have burned our fingers with debt in the past. Some of us went a little overboard and spent more than we could repay. When you started missing repayments, you became anxious every time the phone rang, knowing that it could be a debt collection agency.

You know you have to make those payments sooner or later. Better sooner than later. However, you should never feel intimidated by the agencies, and there are things you can do to make the phone call as painless as possible.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when the collection agencies phone you.

1. Honesty is the best policy

If you know you have unpaid debt, there is no use running from it, own up and take the call and start the process to become debt-free. Be honest about your situation and work with the agency instead of against the agency.

2. Get the facts.

It happens that your account could have been switched with someone else’s. It is your right to know where your debt comes from. Therefore, the collection agency has to provide proof of your debt. If they cannot produce the goods, you don’t have to pay.

3. Have your ducks in a row

When you know that an agency is bound to call, or when you feel that something is amiss, it helps to have your proof on hand. This is especially handy when you know you are in the clear. Providing a paper trail is the fastest to get off the agency’s list.

4. Don’t be bullied

Debt collectors can get carried away and use scare tactics to get you to commit to something that you know is not possible. In other cases, they can go as far as using physical threats against you or your family. Under no circumstances are they allowed to use these tactics to get you to pay.

5. The legitimacy test

We live in a world where people will use any means possible to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash. There are many scam artists out there and they could try and claim that you have unpaid debt that they have bought over.

You never have to make a deal on the first call. So, you can do your homework on the company and find out if they are legit. They prey on the fear of the indebted.

6. Do your homework

Just like the agencies that are scam artists, there are legit agencies who will milk you for way more than what you owe. They may not overcharge you for your debt, and when they do, they have to be registered with the Debt Collectors Council, in which case it would be easy to find out what the service fee would be.

7. Impersonating an officer

These agencies need to make money and there are individuals in these agencies who would stop at nothing to get you to pay up. They might even go as far as impersonating the police or a lawyer. You are well within your rights to do some homework on the debt collector. If you find irregularities, you have the ball in your court.

8. Repaying a debt

When you have settled your debts, keep the records. Other companies might want to take a chance and extract the same debt. A simple email with your proof of payment is enough to send them packing.

9. Be proactive

When you are guilty and you know that trouble is on the way, call your creditors and be upfront about your situation. They want their money, and if you are honest, it could encourage them to provide you with easier terms.

10. Record your conversations

As soon as a collection agency smells that you are willing to pay up, they might “forget” details about previous conversations and alter the terms of your agreement. Record your phone calls and be sure that the collector is aware of the recording. It helps them to “remember” the terms you agreed on.