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Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to Control a Debt Collection Call

Getting a call from a debt collector is stressful, embarrassing and unsettling. Debt collectors are taught and trained, in fact its drilled into them, to stay in control of the call! What does this mean? It means they want to direct where the call goes, the tone of the call and they want to ask all the questions. Questions are powerful powerful tools. Many times a collector will ask a question and then simply pause and leave the debtor to stew in that uncomfortable silence. If the debtor starts to ask a question, the collector is trained to either ignore it or answer as briefly as possible giving the debtor no information and immediately redirect the conversation in the direction they want to go. A collector has many different avenues he or she can direct a call down; creation of anxiety based upon threat of litigation or economic ruin, creation of a bond through offers of assistance, creation of humiliation through stark review of the financial situation, etc. All of this is accomplished by asking the debtor questions. So what can a debtor do in the face of this well trained question asking machine? Well, take control of the call by asking questions of course. You have to be confident and professional (not arrogant, abusive or profane). Start by immediately interrupting the collector and asking what their name is again. Of course the collector identified them self at the very beginning of the call, but this allows you to thrown them off of their pre-planned pitch and allows you to start asking questions. Follow up immediately with, how do you spell that. And then; "and who do you work for and how do you spell that". Now you have seized control of the call and are obviously taking notes. If it is an inexperienced collector, they will be thrown totally off of their game. If it is an experienced collector, they will begin fighting you for control of the call. Regardless, the best way to control the call is to end the call. Ask how much the debt is, who the original creditor is and most importantly ask for contact information; what is an address I can correspond with you at and what is a phone number I can use to reach you. Immediately after you receive that information, say something to the effect that I will research this and be back in touch with you and hang up. The collector will note the contact in their database and more than likely move on to easier prey and leave you in peace for at least the time being.

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Marilyn James said...

Some other ideas for debt collecting:

By taking product in lieu of cash from a cash-poor or bankrupt customer and can virtually eliminate a business loss that would otherwise be unavoidable. Remember - the longer your customers stay in business the better. Most customers WANT to pay you but cannot always afford it. If we all go around stabbing eachother in the back during a recession then none of us will be better off.

The merchandise or product obtained can on-sold, leaving your organization money to spend on items or services that would normally have been paid for with cash. [remember to take the goods at WHOLESALE value - not retail if you can - that way you keep the margin when selling]

Sell the products via craigslist or ebay. Or you could work with a barter exchange or commodity exchange / offset trade network who will trade the goods you have acquired from a bad debtor for things you need. Ormita Commerce Network is a good example of this.

Justin Tullo said...
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Justin Tullo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mich0422 said...

Hey Mike -
Just found your blog. Great info. As an attorney just getting into this area of the law I can use this information.

joybug56 said...

Hello, I have followed your blog for sometime now for advice and information. I am a debt collector. I see you get the same "harsh judgement" we get.
I have a question for you please? I was reading on "Garnishments on the self-employed. I work for a car loan company and we have a debtor that took off with one of our vehicles. We have recovered the car but there is a considerable balance left remaining. I have been place in charge of garnishment and I know exactly " nothing " of it. The person sells tupperware and in my opinion it would be almost impossible to "garnish" her wages. Could you give please give more advice for the " beginner "? I feel this lady would declare a hardship case but the owner of the company wants to garnish. ?

Thank you

Trying To Make Sense of it All said...

It's important to document everything you are doing with the collector. A lot of junk debt collectors are filing frivilous lawsuits these days for one of two reasons. 1. To scare you into paying. 2. Get you to ignore the complaint; thus they win by default and can now garnish your wages.

Take a pro-active stand. Be very brief on the phone. Document who you spoke to and time of call. Ask if you can record the conversation (depending on your state laws).

As always, validate. You need to know if this collector is collecting on the right person, do they have a legal right to collect on this debt, etc. NEVER take any collector's word on the phone.

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TREMendo said...

How about you just pay ur bill and avoid things, debt collectors are just trying to find out the situation and try to come to a common ground in having it solved; remember they weren't the ones that created the debt, or let it get so way passed due that a person has to call and remind an adult to pay something they signed to pay from the get go.

Anonymous said...

Any lawyer interested in starting a class action lawsuit against AT&T? Over the last 2 months, they have called me daily, when I have been less than a week past due. The first month I was apalled. (It was in my budget to pay, when I got payed 2 days later.) I instructed the caller I didn't appreciate daily phone calls about my bill. The agent instructed me that I didn't have rights and they were allowed to call me daily. I spent 30 minutes on the phone before a supervisor put me on a "do not call list". I was just called yesterday and today, and was told it takes 30 days to process. I believe AT&T is advising people of their rights, contrary to what they really are.

Ben said...

I lot of comments are questions about advise. I found out that my county has a free bar night. That's what they call it. Basically lawyers get together one night a week and if somebody comes in they give free advice. I found out about it through a small claims court judge. Im sure just giving your local small claims court number and asking the question will get some info. But it helped me tremendously when preparing for my day in court. Give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I got so tired of all these rate hikes that I recently settled all of them by calling 1-888-897-8235.

They reduced my monthly payments and saved me from having to file bankruptcy.

The number was 1-888-897-8235 from

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bizandlegis said...

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Thanks for all posts

Thanks in advance for coming posts...

Keep writing...............


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