Talking to Collection Agents 101
Unfortunately, the method that works best depends on who is on the other end of the line, their personality/style and maybe on the success or failure of the call before you.
Some agents are understanding and sympathetic. Others, well, not so much. They have an agenda and will not waiver from it.
The following are some “tips” to help you take some of the stress of these conversations.
- Keep a record of your call. Get the name of the person you are talking to, the company they are calling from, and their phone number. (If they refuse to give you this information, politely tell them you are not prepared to talk to them without that info).
- Do not offer to pay an amount that you know you are unable to pay. Ask them what an acceptable payment is and tell them you will review your budget/finances and get back to them. (Get back to them).
- Remain calm. These calls can get heated and the agent may rely on an aggressive approach. Getting upset at the agent won’t help. If you feel the agent is over stepping your boundaries or harassing you, politely tell the agent that you are not prepared to talk to them in that manner and will hang up if they continue.
- You may be told that there will be legal action against you or that your credit will be destroyed. The truth is, they CAN take legal action, it doesn’t mean they WILL and if your account is in collection, your credit is affected. Offer this response, “I understand that (you may take legal action/this may affect my credit/etc.) It does not change my situation”.
- Decide what you can and cannot do and stick to it. If you cannot pay anything, be honest. Tell them what you are doing about it (ie. I am going to talk to a financial counsellor, my bank, looking for a job, waiting for a cheque). Offer to get back to them on a specific date.
- Call back with an update. Even if it is to say nothing changed. They may not like your update, but it is what it is.
Have a tip to add? Please comment!
Need additional advice? Ask Dr. Debt firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy, healthy finances,
Mary Ann Marriott
aka Dr Debt