What We are About - Telling Your Story

At one point in my career I was doing public speaking gigs about stress management. I was asked to speak to some bail bondsman. The conference coordinator who invited me stated that the bail bondsman were almost morally equivalent to the criminals for whom they were providing bail. They were, sure enough, a rowdy crowd.

I see debt collectors on about the same level of Hell. To be fair, there are some collectors out there who legimately want to reach some kind of resolution. But from stories I hear and some unsettling personal experience, not so many.

We will also be collecting! We will collect information, tips, and your stories to help bring both awareness and perhaps tools to the unfortunate indebted person. Not all are deadbeats. Some debtors have no financials skills and have not been fortunate enough to have had a good personal finance education. Some have met with an unfortunate event or events in their lives that put them in debt. (Look at the current mortgage situation.) This site does not welcome anyone who is trying to cheat somebody else (including impersonal companies). That is as immoral as some of the collection tactics that are going on out there. We want to provide some help and some support for others who are in a collections nightmare.

If you have a story to tell:
The comments section, while very liberal in selections to be included, is moderated. If you have a story to tell, email it directly to collectionstories@gmail.com. Stories will not be accepted as a comment. We encourage you to share your story as an educational tool for others and perhaps you will receive helpful comments. Feel free to use names.

Only non-judgmental comments about an article with helpful information or support will be selected for use.

Since we are a smalltime grassroots organization, we cannot and do not take responsibility for the truth or untruth of any stories that we get. So buyer beware. We are not about revenge for hurt feelings. We are about fairness and truth. The stories written by readers are the sole responsibility of those particular readers/writers and we are not responsible for the veracity of any story or detail that comes as a reader contribution. This is not a "journalistic" endeavor nor do we claim to abide by journalistic standards of corroboration.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cool, calm, logical...nicely done!

How to Handle the Obnoxious Debt Collector

The important premise is that you, the debtor, is as much a victim as you are anything else. The loan and credit card system is designed to screw you royally. This is the premise we dare anyone to challenge in this day of mortgage defaults occuring left and right.

So, what do you do in collections Hell?

1. Before anything else, write anyone that you are having trouble paying and state that you will not receive phone calls and you do not want them to call. Be sure and tell them that you are happy to deal with them through any written medium. Make sure that they know you are willing to communicate and are not cutting off interaction with them. Send it certified. Keep the letter and the postal receipt. They do not want this. They lose the intimidation factor because if they try to intimidate you unethically or illegally, you have the evidence in written form against them. Also most collectors will lie, so you need written verification of everything. Count on it.

2. If they do call, do not answer the phone. (It is a healthy practice not to answer any call from anybody you don't know. For some reason, older people feel they are obligated to pick up the phone when it rings. It's probably a pre-answering machine thing. Since most phones have some form of caller ID and voicemail, this is just plain foolish in the 21st Century. In this communications age, answering a call from a stranger is like leaving your front door open.) If they leave a recording on your voicemail, do not, under any circumstances, call the number they leave. It is a trap. It is also rude to have a machine call you.

3. If you do get in some kind of "live" situation, follow these simple rules:

  • Refuse to commit to anything under duress. Ask for a written proposal of anything they want you to do. You need the time to think about the situation and you need a written agreement that this will indeed resolve either the immediate or long-range situation. Verbal promises are cheap to these people.

  • Never lose you cool. This is a trick. If they can get you in an upset and panicked state of mind, they have the psychological upper hand. They will insult and lie to you. I knew one person who was told by Citifinancial Auto that their interest would multiply 3 times daily for everyday they were late and that they owed 14 times the amount that they actually did. They claimed it was in the debtor's contract. This would most likely be an illegal contract if it weren't that it was actually an out-an-out lie. Collectors are like monkeys. They keep throwing whatever crap they can at you until they get something to stick just to gain the psychological advantage. It is certain that there is nothing more demoralizing to a collector than to get laughed at when they try to upset you because the goal is to throw you off your game. You've just spoiled their game.

  • Become a broken record. Keep repeating without emotion what you want to say. Take charge. They will eventually hang up on you. Decide what you need to say, stick to your script, and keep repeating it. Don't fall for distractions. Again, their attempts will be outrageous. Go so far as to write it out first and repeat it in monotone if you have to. "I cannot pay you this month. I will send you a written schedule of when I can pay you. I will not give you a date now as I do not want to mislead you."

  • If you see that it is out of control and that you cannot maintain a broken record, hang up on them. You do not need to continue a losing game. Paraphrasing Eric Berne, the only way to stop playing a game is to stop.

Take charge. They may hold your debt, but they can't control your life.