6 Steps to Take to Fight Back Against Aggressive Bill Collectors

When illness strikes or jobs are lost, even the most financially responsible individuals can find themselves dealing with aggressive bill collectors. These collection agents use profane or obscene language, call you at work after you tell them to stop, and wake you up in the middle of the night with their calls.

Is any of this legal? No. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits third-party debt collectors from using hostile and unethical methods to coerce you into settling a debt. These collection agencies simply hope that you’re unfamiliar with your rights as a consumer and become frightened enough to pay up. Here are six steps you can take to fight back.

Step One: Educate Yourself on Your Rights

Educate yourself on what a debt collector legally can and can’t do when attempting to collect a consumer debt. Aggressive collection agents will say anything to persuade you to pay: they may tell you that you can go to jail for fraud or have your wages garnished. Don’t panic. None of it is true.

Step Two: Demand Validation of the Debt

Debt collectors can’t legally chase you unless they provide you with written validation of the debt within five days of initially contacting you. If they fail or refuse to provide you with that letter, you do not have to discuss the matter with the collector and can even sue them for harassing you.

Step Three: Send Them a Cease and Desist Letter

If you write a letter requesting no further contact, debt collectors are legally required to stop communicating with you unless it’s to advise that the matter is being dropped or a lawsuit is commencing. This is why many of them try to conceal their physical address. Once you discover the office address for the collection agency, send them certified letters demanding that they stop contacting you. Make sure that those letters are certified to prove that the collector received them.

Step Four: Find Out How Old the Debt Is

In Utah, the amount of time a collector has to sue you depends on the obligation. If it is based on a contract or written agreement, the statute of limitations is six years. The clock starts running when the contract is breached: with most credit agreements, this is either when the last charge took place or the last payment was received, whichever is later.

If a debt collector has purchased or otherwise acquired an old debt of yours, do not make a payment. If you make a partial payment or even acknowledge the debt in writing, it can restart the clock.

Step Five: Record Everything

Once you start getting calls, record everything the debt collector says. Inform them that the conversation is being recorded and start taping. If they cross the line, you have the evidence needed to report the company to the Federal Trade Commission and take them to court.

Step Six: Contact an Attorney

If a debt collector keeps pushing you too far, contact an attorney. By law, once you retain legal counsel regarding a debt, all direct contact to you must cease. Your attorney can also assist you in filing a lawsuit if the collection agency has breached the FDCPA in its dealings with you.

Don’t let yourself become a victim of illegal debt collection activities: call the Law Office of Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We will protect your rights from further violation and represent you if you opt to rectify matters in court.

Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates