DENVER — When it comes to debt collectors calling for your cash, you might feel like you don’t have any options. But, you do.
You can complain to the Attorney General’s Office. In fact, debt collectors topped the list of highest consumer complaints in Colorado.
But, there are other options and there’s one simple thing you can do to stop the calls. All you need is a piece of paper.
Debt collectors can be demeaning, aggressive, even obscene. “They cussed at me. They would have me in tears,” said one victim, Roxanne from Loveland.
She said she just felt overwhelmed. She got sick, lost her job and ended up $8,000 in debt. “It just came on, real fast,” she added.
But, Broomfield bankruptcy attorney Michael Wink of Wink & Wink, says you have the power to make the harassing calls stop. “When they call you, you need to know they will do and say just about anything to get you to pay them some money.”
The first thing you need to do is write a letter to the company telling them not to contact you by phone. “The letters are very effective,” Wink said.
He says you will need to take care of your debt at some point, but this will help make the calls stop. Also, know your rights. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors can call you, but only at convenient times and that means they can’t call you on your cell phone.
Creditors must identify themselves and who they’re collecting for. They can call your friends, relatives and place of employment, but only to find you. They cannot discuss your debt. Also, they cannot use obscene language or threaten you and you cannot be arrested for not paying your debts.
Wink explains how they might try, “Sheriff`s on his way to your house right now. That’s a blatant lie. A blatant lie.”
But, while you can’t go to jail for not paying your debt, you can be sued. If you don’t follow court orders, the judge can issue a bench warrant.
So, the best thing to do is to get in front of your debt and reach out to someone who can help, whether that’s an attorney or free credit counseling service.