Photo by Sharon Mccutcheon on Unsplash

By Rebecca Nelson

Everyone has been there – you take out a loan or mortgage, or obtain a new credit card. At first, it’s all been good; you enjoy the perks of having money to spend for your needs, and even your “wants”… until the demands come. Then comes the first call. And the flashback – where did I spend all the money? How did I lose track of time?

It would be a bad idea to ignore this call, or not take heed of the notice that was sent to you by your credit card company. Perhaps you think that not getting that loan or saying “no” to that credit card offer would have avoided this ordeal. No matter. Here you are, and you need a solution.

Before diving head-first into getting out of this sticky situation, you need to know who you are dealing with. What exactly are collection agencies, and how do they work? Here are a few key things you need to know about collecting agencies and debt collectors, and how to deal with them.

What is debt collection?

Debt collection is the process or protocol wherein a debt collector, otherwise known as collection agencies, pursue an individual or corporate entity for debt payment on behalf of their creditors.

Different methods are used for debt collection, such as sending a notice or a series of phone calls to remind the debtor that the financial obligation is due. Debt collection agencies deal with debts of all types: student loans, mortgage, credit card payments, hospital bills, utility bills, etc.

Types of Collection Agencies

Per above, collection agencies are individuals or entities that employ people to collect debt payments from debtors on behalf of their creditors. Aside from institutions, some lawyers also act on behalf of these collecting bodies.

There are two types of collection agencies: first-party collection agencies – or commonly known as internal collection departments – and third-party debt collectors.

Internal Collection Department

Internal debt collectors work from the same company that stands as your creditor. Within 90 to 180 days from the time your loan becomes due and demandable, an agent from the company which owns the debt will be contacting you. First-party collectors and the loaning entities are one and the same.

Third-Party Debt Collector

These are agencies that a loaning institution employs and pays for collection services to collect their debtors’ financial obligations. Your debt is sold to the third-party debt collector, and they in turn, collect from the person who owes the principal agency. There are also collection agencies who act as first-party or third-party debt collectors, no matter the kind of debt there is to collect. One known institution for being such is Afni.

Anderson Financial Network, Inc., or Afni for brevity, is a known collection agency in the US, located in Illinois. You might be familiar with this agency as it is known to act on behalf of well-known companies for collection, such as T-Mobile, Sprint, and Comcast, among others. To know more about this collecting agency and how to deal with it when it comes after you, Click Here.

How To Deal With Debt Collectors

As much as you would want to avoid becoming delinquent, when it comes to your loan obligations circumstances may not be in your favor, and you may end up having to face your creditors. Here are some strategies that may save you the trouble and stress when it comes to dealing with collection agencies:

1.      Know your rights

A creditor-debtor relationship, especially when a third party is involved, does not necessarily mean an aggressive transaction that might leave the debtor with a restless mind and bruised wallet. However, it would be best to know the rights that would protect you from harassment and intimidation.

The US Federal Trade Commission (US-FTC) has recently published materials that help consumers deal with debt collection and know their rights under the mantle of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Under this statute, the use of threats and harassment in the form of calls or letters of notices, coupled with abusive language, or in some cases physical harassment, is broadly prohibited under the law and may be reported to the state attorney general.

2.      Stand your ground when dealing with debt collectors.

Although it would be detrimental to the status of your debt and account if you completely ignore calls or notices sent by your creditor institution, or if you refused to answer the door when the debt collector comes, facing them does not always result in immediate action, such as you needing to pay upfront.

It is critical to be careful and aware, especially with collection agencies that you are not familiar with, because you might not even be the person they are looking for, or the account may not be the one they’re after. Scrutinize every notice sent, do not be afraid to ask questions, and most of all, keep copies of all documents and physical data involved.

If ever it comes down to you needing to pay immediately, it would be prudent to pay by money order and not by check, especially if you are dealing with a debt collector that you are not familiar with. This way, you will still have proof of payment when the creditor follows up with you.

3.      Record abusive behavior from debt collectors.

In this technological era, recording incidents, especially negative ones, have become proof and evidence, especially when a person aggrieves another. In cases where debt collectors come to harass or intimidate you into paying your obligations, keeping your phone at hand to record the exchange could serve as proof that may be used against the collection agency.

However, in some states, this would only be allowed with the other party’s consent. In this case, asking for your conversation to be recorded can also deter the collector from employing aggressive and unnecessary means to force you out of paying your debt on behalf of the creditor.

Takeaway

Being a dutiful payor is every debtor’s responsibility. Still, it should also go hand-in-hand for debt collectors to respect the privacy and boundaries of the individuals they collect from. Most of all, time and opportunity to be able to explain and negotiate should be made available to both parties to have a peaceful resolution if the circumstance should arise.

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