If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a phone call with a debt collector, it probably wasn’t a very happy experience. In fact, some debt collection agents don’t just get nasty with you. Certain collectors go all out to squeeze money out of consumers, harassing or intimidating people and even breaking the law in their efforts to get paid.
Perhaps that’s one reason that debt collection calls routinely rank among the biggest complaints by U.S. consumers to federal authorities. If you’re not careful, you could be dealing with a rogue debt collector for weeks—or even months—on end. Sometimes those persistent, annoying debt collection phone calls just go on and on.
Instead of putting up with verbal abuse or worse, arm yourself with knowledge about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and be prepared for possible lies and tactics certain debt collectors may use.
Here are five lies debt collectors may tell you that you shouldn’t believe.
1. Just give me a check and I’ll instantly fix your credit report or credit score
If your credit has been tarnished by overdue debts, getting a quick fix for your credit report sounds good. But it probably isn’t realistic, let alone truthful.
If your account ended up going to collections because of a missed payment or series of missed payments, the activity will stay on your credit report for up to seven years after making the last payment.
Debt collectors may try to convince you that paying off the debt will improve your credit score. But the truth is that once the activity has been reported to the credit bureaus, it will stay there and may not have any positive effect on your credit score. The only exception to this is if the creditor or debt collector complete removes the negative information from your credit report.
Should a debt collector promise to do this, get that promise in writing.
2. I can call your relatives or friends to help you repay your debt
This might sound like they’re trying to help you out. But really it’s just a tactic that will make it that much easier for the debt collector to track you down—not really to help you pay off that debt. Be cautious when debt collectors are pressuring you to pay the debt by bringing friends and family members into the picture.
Some debt collectors like to know your close associates’ contact information in order to get in touch with you if you should go incognito.
Additionally, debt collectors aren’t legally entitled to tell other people anything specific about your debts—verbally or in writing.
3. Pay up immediately or I’ll see you in court!
This is a scare tactic that many debt collectors resort to when they aren’t sure whether you are going to pay the debt at any time. However, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are breaking the law when they threaten to take you to court when they have no intention or grounds to do so.
4. We are going to inform your employer about your outstanding debt
Even if you owe money, you do have certain rights that prevent a debt collection agency from disclosing this information to your employer, friends and family members. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have the right to be free from harassment or intimidation by a debt collector.
Also, if you tell a debt collector that you can’t get phone calls on the job, they’re supposed to refrain from calling you at work.
5. Send us a post-dated check and you’re in the clear
Avoid making any type of agreement with a debt collector where you give them a post-dated check, especially over the phone. Some debt collectors will cash post-dated checks early or even change the amount on the check.
When you are making a payment, make sure to use a money order or send a certified check with a return receipt. Also, avoid sending a regular check linked to your personal checking account since the bill collector may be able to tap into your bank account.
These are just five of the lies debt collectors sometimes spout in order to get you to pay a past due bill. What other lies or tactics have you heard? Sound off below.