In recent years, as America’s economy has floundered, many people have found themselves considering bankruptcy. A unifying theme that recurs in almost every consultation with a prospective client includes tales of the incessant calls made by bill collectors. Those calls can make an overwhelming time seem unbearable.
In 2011, Reader’s Digest magazine published an article entitled “13 Things a Debt Collector Won’t Tell You.” Michelle Crouch, the author, summarized a behind-the-scenes perspective of the debt collection industry offered by debt collectors and former debt collection agency employees, which we at The Brad Hendricks Law Firm believe includes some truly candid insights to keep in mind if you or a loved one falls into difficult financial times and are being hounded by debt collectors:
1. The more money the collector is able to collect, the larger his or her bonus check will be.
2. Debt collectors may hound you for the full amount of your debt, but most collectors are, in fact, authorized to settle on a reduced rate that may be 15 to 35 percent lower than the total debt.
3. Often, collection calls come from debt collection companies that have purchased large debt portfolios from original merchants or credit card companies for pennies on the dollar. What they may later collect from you is simply icing on the cake. More importantly, though, the fact that the portfolios are purchased for so little by the debt collector means that many of them are willing to accept a reduced amount to settle your debt in full.
4. Debt collectors will not voluntarily inform you that the statute of limitations associated with the debt may have already expired. It is important to avoid making any promise to the caller until that information is known. We have seen cases in which debt collectors have called trying to solicit payments on debts that are between 15 to 20 years old. The statute of limitations in Arkansas for the typical credit card debt is 5 years. Any promise to the creditor to pay even a reduced payment may revive the debt so that the statute of limitations no longer bars collection. Be aware of this, and it could be your greatest defense against a debt collector. The statute of limitations for most debts, under Arkansas law, ranges from two to five years.
5. Debt collectors are not allowed to call you at work. Ever. If they call after you have asked them to stop, you may have a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You may be able to recover your damages, attorney’s fees, and costs from the collector. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a claim under the FDCPA is one year from the alleged violation of the Act by a collector.
6. Debt collectors will not tell you that the FDCPA also prohibits them from threatening to have you arrested, using profanity, or calling between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Dealing with debt that has gone into collections can create massive amounts of stress for a debtor and the debtor’s family. Much of the stress comes from a general lack of knowledge of how the debt collection process works and the laws governing debt collection.
If you or a loved one has been repeatedly contacted by debt collectors, we have included some things for you to keep in mind when dealing with the collector. If negotiating with the creditor fails, you may have other options. Call The Brad Hendricks Law Firm at (501) 221-0444 or (800) 603-5100 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our Bankruptcy Department, led by Lyndsey Dilks, to discuss those options and whether you might be protected under the law.
Lyndsey Dilks joined The Brad Hendricks Law Firm in 2008 and was specifically recruited to create and develop the firm’s Bankruptcy Department. Lyndsey has been named as one of the Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Little Rock by Soirée Magazine. Her practice is devoted exclusively to Bankruptcy matters. Caroline Lewis joined the firm in 2009 and has assisted the Bankruptcy Department in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases since 2011.