It doesn’t take long for a middle-class working adult to end up in financial trouble. An illness that had you miss a week of work, for example, or a car accident could be all it takes to leave you playing catch-up with everything. When you’re barely making the minimum monthly payment on your credit cards, you can end up way over your head in no time.
Once you fall behind in payments, you can count on creditors to start calling. Sometimes, it will be your credit card company, while other times it’s a private, third-party collection company that’s trying to get you to pay. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting a phone call from a bill collector at work. If your company doesn’t allow personal calls, even taking the call could get you in trouble. How can you put a stop to it?
If you ask them to stop calling, they should
It may feel like nothing can stop debt collectors, but that actually isn’t true. In order to protect consumers, there are federal laws that place limits on what debt collectors can do. For example, they can’t call anyone between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. without explicit permission to do so. They also can’t call you at work after you’ve informed them that you aren’t allowed to take personal calls there.
If your work has a policy of no calls, or if taking phone calls distracts from your work, you have every right to ask a collector to stop calling you at work. If they continue to do so, you can send a letter in writing asking them to stop.
Failing to do so would violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which could cost their company money. Generally, most debt collectors will stop calling your place of work after a verbal request, but you should document each request that you make and every subsequent call you receive at work carefully just in case.
Long-term planning is the only real solution to creditor harassment
If your creditors won’t stop calling, restricting them from calling your work is a temporary measure. Once they know where you work, they can bring a lawsuit against you and ask the courts to garnish your wages. Unless you’re able to stabilize your financial situation, you can expect these calls to continue.
For many people who fall behind financially, catching up without a sudden windfall will be impossible. Bankruptcy is a way to get relief from the calls, from the growing interest and fees and from the risk of abusive collection calls. Depending on your assets and your income, there are different forms of bankruptcy protection available.