Texting Debt Collectors: Common Tactics and How to Protect Yourself
Debt collection is an unfortunate reality for many individuals who find themselves struggling with financial difficulties. While debt collectors are legally entitled to pursue debts owed, it is important to familiarize yourself with their common tactics and understand how to protect yourself, especially when it comes to receiving text messages from debt collectors.
Texting has become an increasingly popular method for debt collectors to communicate with individuals in debt. It provides a convenient way to reach out, but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating. Here, we will explore some common tactics used by debt collectors through text messages and provide tips on how to protect yourself.
1. Frequent and persistent messages: Debt collectors often send constant messages, sometimes even multiple times a day, to pressure and intimidate individuals into paying their debts. They may use strong language, threats, or urgent wording to create a sense of panic. Remember that debt collectors must adhere to laws that protect consumers from harassment. If you believe they are crossing the line, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
2. Online spoofing: Be cautious of messages that appear to be from a debt collector but are actually from scammers attempting to obtain your personal information. These messages may imitate the legitimate debt collection agency, using a similar name or logo. Always verify the authenticity of a text message by contacting the agency directly using the phone number on their official website.
3. Disputed debts: Debt collectors sometimes attempt to collect on debts that are disputed or have already been paid. If you are unsure about the accuracy of the debt being claimed, request validation of the debt in writing. Legitimate debt collectors are required to provide written proof of the debt, such as the original creditor’s name, the amount owed, and details on how to dispute the debt.
4. Time-barred debts: Debt collectors may target individuals for debts that have exceeded the statute of limitations, meaning they are no longer legally enforceable. However, they often try to convince you otherwise. Research your state’s laws to determine whether the debt is time-barred, and if so, inform the debt collector that you are aware of your rights and that they cannot legally pursue the debt any longer.
5. Unfair practices: Debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices. They cannot threaten you with arrest, use abusive language, or misrepresent themselves as an attorney or government official. If you encounter any of these tactics, report the debt collector to the CFPB or your state’s Attorney General’s office.
To protect yourself from unwanted texts and potential scams, follow these essential steps:
a. Add the debt collector’s number to your phone’s contacts: This allows you to identify incoming calls and messages from debt collectors easily.
b. Keep records: Save all text messages from debt collectors, as well as any other relevant communication. These records will be valuable if you need to dispute any unfair practices or harassment later on.
c. Be cautious with your personal information: Never provide personal or financial information in response to a text message from a debt collector. Legitimate collectors already have the information they need, so if they ask for it, it may be a scam.
d. Educate yourself on your rights: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlines the rules that debt collectors must follow when communicating with you. Research your rights and obligations under this federal law to ensure you are not being subjected to unfair practices.
Dealing with debt collectors can be overwhelming, but knowing your rights and being proactive can help protect you from abusive practices. If you believe you are being treated unfairly or unlawfully, consult with a consumer protection attorney who can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your rights.