Debt Collector: “I had a black heart.”
Money/CNN recently posted a slideshow with tidbits from former debt collectors. The interviews illustrate the toxic environment these former collectors worked in, and why they got out. Interestingly, some of them went on to become credit counselors, working with consumers in a more productive manner. Some excerpts from the story:
“I had a black heart.”
“We would call family members and neighbors a lot because that’s the best way to intimidate debtors ….”
A colleague “called up debtors and posed as legal counsel …. He could get away with things like this because most consumers just don’t know their rights.“
“Collectors I knew regularly held contests to see who could make the most people cry in one day.”
Some of the collectors lament the harassment they sometimes face from consumers. While I certainly don’t condone swearing at or threatening anyone, I understand the frustration consumers feel. If someone treats you respectfully on the phone, you should of course give them the same courtesy.
But if you’re being harassed and just can’t tolerate the incessant calls and repeated requests for money you can’t afford to pay, a more productive response is to write a “do not call” letter to the debt collector . Make a copy of the signed letter, and send it via certified mail with return receipt requested (you need the green card with the recipient’s original signature, not an e-mail confirmation). If the debt collectors keep calling despite the letter, they’ve violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. The law generally doesn’t apply to original creditors (like your bank or credit card company), but some will voluntarily comply with that provision of the FDCPA.