Managing Debt

Infographic: What to do if a Debt Collector Calls

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Nothing can ruin your day like a call from a debt collector, whether you were expecting to hear from them or not. Bill collectors are pros. It’s their job to collect money, and the less reputable ones don’t even care whether you owe it or not!

If you’re not careful, you may end up saying or doing something you’ll regret – like paying a debt collector a small amount to “get him off your back” and, by doing so, extending the amount of time he can collect from you. That’s why it is essential to know you rights when dealing with a debt collector. Use our guide to figure out what to next if a debt collector calls.

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Infographic: What to do if a Debt Collector Calls

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  • Seriago

    The last time one called me with insults and outrageous comments, I was ready and recoding every single words. Told him I was doing so at the end of it and I had no problem pursuing him and his company in court for the way they systematically tried to attack and humiliate me. That company stop cold their calls.

    I did pay all I owed directly to my supplier eventually. So do record your calls and tell them after…. be responsible of course, same as they need to so as well.

    • DS

      The infographic is not loading – could you please send it to me by email? THANKS!

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    My worksite has been flooded with harassment telephone calls from an unknoown debt/credit collector with a heavy Middle Eastern accent.This has been happening the past 2 years and I have contacted various gvt agencies to put a stop to this person but so far zero has happened. I am seeking to hire an attorney to possibly locate or pinpoint where these calls are coming and the person(s) involved. These people use American-type names and telephone numbers but I know these people are the scammers because of their accents.They appear to be calling from overseas OR! if possible,right here in the USA. They have called my worksite,personal references, and other people who know me as well. Please tell me what steps of action to take?. Thanks.

    • th!sman

      You are right, these people are scammers calling from overseas, specifically India, with spoofed numbers to appear as tho’ they are calling from with the US – thanx to the wonders of the internet.

      You, while in the USA, can pursue them legally while they are all the way in India, as much as they, being foreigners hell bent on perpetrating a scam crime on you can pursue you in an American court. Which basically equals zero. That goes for the feds to short of sending a drone and destroying the building they inhabit while abusing Americans.

      However, there’s one thing you can do. It’s called a loud sports air horn. Next time they call blast it on the phone. It’s extremely effective, they never call back.

      If you have obtained a payday loan at any time expect their call. Best thing is you know it’s a scam and you know what to do to diffuse future calls. If all of us answered these calls with a loud sports air horn blast do you think they will not want to find another profession while they still have one good ear working?

      Apparently even the rest of the world knows most of us Americans are so ignorant of our rights (and perhaps gullible too) that when a scammer with an obvious heavy foreign accent calls us and pretends their name is Edward Jones, and they are sending the sheriff or police to pick us up for a crime of not paying an imaginary debt/loan we buy it and cough some money to them. If they don’t think we are so gullible otherwise why is it that we are the most targeted by Nigerian scammers and now we are proving to be quite a popular target of the Indian scammers?

      Here’s a few hints, Edward Jones or similar is very much an Anglo/ American name not an Asian name. Generally there are no debtors jails in the US, what is this 1839 or 2012?

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  • Cammy

    For the last few months we have been getting phone calls from a debt collector for our daughter who does not live here. The first call we didn’t know it was a collector and took a message. Then about a week later the calls started again. I asked them to please not call anymore. They ignored me. Then I told them sternly to stop calling that no one by that name lives here. We are getting at least three calls a day from this place everyday of the week. Also, part of the time my caller ID says unavailable with an 800 number, but the company name does not alway shows up on the caller ID. Should we file a complaint with the FTC and the FDCPA?


      Cammy — You can certainly file a complaint with the FTC. You can also file a complaint with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) online here. As far as your rights go, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the law that was designed to protect consumers from abusive and harassing collectors. The problem is that the law doesn’t mention family members of the debtor so it’s a bit of a grey area. Some attorneys hold that family members can sue a collector because the FDCPA technically says “any person.”

      In your particular case, if the collector refuses to stop calling after you’ve told them repeatedly to stop (and the debt doesn’t even belong to you) one option would be to contact a consumer law attorney to find out if you might have a case. A good place to find an attorney would be the National Association of Consumer Advocates at

  • Credit Experts

    Josephine — changing the date of a collection (called re-aging) is illegal and a direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You can read more about this here:

    Re-Aging Collections — What is it and does it really happen?

    If the collector is changing the date to make it appear that you just went delinquent, the first step is to dispute the debt with the collector. You’ll want to do this in writing so that you have a solid paper trail. If you have records that show the date is wrong, use it as proof to send with the dispute. You may even wish to go back to the original creditor to get details on the debt and confirm the original delinquency date.

    You should also file a dispute directly with the credit reporting agencies, and if the collector really is fudging the numbers, you can also file a complaint directly with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here:

    Here are a few resources that will walk you through the dispute process:

    A Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Errors
    8 Rules for an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

    It may be an actual error on their part, but if the date is wrong, they need to update it and correct it. If they don’t, and they’re blatantly changing the date, they’re breaking the law and you may have legal recourse. In which case, you’ll want to speak with a consumer law attorney. To find a consumer law attorney in your area, visit

    Keep in mind that collections go by the date the account first went into serious delinquency status, typically at the 180 day late mark.

  • Jeanice

    Here is my experience… I got a call from a lawyer saying they represented a sonic cash. This was a loan from 2006 in Calif. I did use these services back then but I am more than sure I paid them all. If not I have no problem doing so. but these lawyers – Hill, White and Associates said they were not debt collectors they were representing their client Sonic Cash and that I had ten days to settle out of court before they charged me with two felonies and a misdemeanor – check fraud and malicious intent ..needless to say I am very scared right now .. but so many red flags came up during our conversation. First they never wanted my address only my email so they could send a letter to me. weird! Then they started off by saying my loan was for 500 and now with court fees and interest it is up to 1570.00 but if I can settle out of court it will lower the fees to 1200 and then she said wait I have them on inline chat they said they would take a 1000. if you can make a good faith payment now and three easy payments every week. I was like there is no way. i asked her to send me some kind of verification of the debt and she would only email it to me saying that is how they verify that I received it.. and it is only a word doc with my name and a docket number and balance .. it says the loan was charged off in 2009. So I told her I would have to figure out how i could pay and i told her I would call her at my lunch today to make arrangements. I was scared because I have heard that payday loans could be criminal.. but I don’t believe these people. I have never gotten any thing in the mail or any thing on this until now. By reading the fair credit sites I am going to tell her at lunch today that I am going to send her a certified letter for her to respond to.. so that she can verify my debt in writing. I have a feeling she will threaten my with jail and court and… yes I am scared- who wouldn’t be. I will let you know after the phone call what has happened. I hope I am right.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Don’t be scared at all. This has all the hallmarks of a payday loan collection scam. Don’t even bother with these folks. The fact that they are telling you that they are going to charge you with two misdemeanors and a felony is a tip off right there they aren’t legit. (A felony is a criminal matter, and not being able to pay your debt is not a criminal offense. Plus who do they think they are – law enforcement?)

      Tell them you’ve reported them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – and do so. Then enjoy your lunch in peace.

      9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer

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