You shouldn’t have to outsmart your debt collector

According to the Urban Institute, 35 percent of adults in America are in debt.

And for those 77 million Americans, a simple Google search will tell them everything they need to know about how to evade their debts.


The blog Prudent Money recently published a post called, “How to Outsmart a Debt Collector.”

The blogger quotes Bob Brooks, an author and veteran radio show host in the financial services industry.   One of Bob’s quotes about today’s debt collectors struck me:

Debt collectors are not government agents. They’re not lawyers, and they’re not the police. Debt collectors are tunnel-vision businesspeople driven, Terminator-like, to collect debts by whatever means possible—and yes, sometimes their tactics are less than ethical. They’ve been known to tell debtors that they owe more than they actually do, contact debtors’ employers (debts are not supposed to be discussed with third parties), and threaten that they’re going to send the police to a debtor’s home to arrest him (debt collectors have no such power).

Really?!  Who has been contacting Bob?

He goes on to give several tips about how to avoid a debt collector who is “harassing” you, although truthfully most of the talk is about what happens when a debt collector is attempting to collect against the wrong person and “educates” the reader that you should not pay that debt.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that serves to not only protect consumers against unfair debt collection practices, but also places the fair debt collectors – the “good guys”- on a level playing field.  Individual states have laws that either mirror and/or enhance the FDCPA and offer even more protection to their consumers.

So, “outsmarting” the debt collector is not really the issue these days.  The laws are clear.

The clean, reputable debt collection law firm or agency will likely be licensed or bonded as local law requires, will likely record all communication with the consumer, and will likely have written policies and procedures in place for the handling of every key event anticipated in the collections process.   Law firms that anticipate, train, practice and follow these procedures on a daily basis offer an experience to the consumer that is a far cry from what Bob describes above.

And, it actually gets better results.

Our experience is that when a person owes a debt, it is more often than not because they intended to pay it and at some point became unable.  If we are considerate and professional in our communication to the consumer, they are generally understanding and forthright in return.   They will pay their debts as their circumstances allow.   Obviously this is not always the case, which is why we have legal recourse at our disposal.

Even then, however, the goal is to remain consistent in our professionalism and ethics.

Sorry to dispel the Terminator imagery, Bob.

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