When it comes to debt collection, creditors need to be aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is a federal law that protects consumers from abusive and harassing behavior from debt collectors. Debtors will sometimes try to entrap creditors into violating the FDCPA to get them in trouble. In this article, we will discuss five signs that a debtor is trying to entrap you into violating the FDCPA.
1. The debtor asks questions about credit bureau reporting.
When a debtor asks you whether you will report their debt to a credit bureau, they are trying to get you into sketchy waters with the FDCPA. You should always avoid responding to this question, as it can be seen as an attempt to harass or abuse the debtor, depending on how you answer.
For example, if you say that you will report the debt to a credit bureau, the debtor may then accuse you of violating the FDCPA by making harassing claims. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently violate the FDCPA yourself.
2. The debtor challenges you on what you will do if they don’t pay.
One way that a debtor might challenge you on what you will do if they choose not to pay is by asking whether or not you are going to sue them. Do not get into speculative back-and-forths with the debtor. Instead, reiterate the amount owed and the options available to them.
The debtor might also ask whether or not you plan on contacting their employer. Never give the debtor a definitive statement that they can then take and manipulate. Refer back to the previous paragraph for how to handle it.
You should also avoid making any threats, and always keep track of any communication with the debtor, including phone calls, emails, and letters. This can help protect you from any accusations of violating the FDCPA.
3. The debtor asks specific questions about wage garnishments or liens.
Will you garnish my wages? Will you put a lien on my property? They might do this in a pseudo-fearful manner to take you off your guard. Always assume that specific questions like these from a debtor are duplicitous.
Even if they seem harmless and non-threatening, they have done enough of their homework to know what the FDCPA guards against. If they can catch you saying you will pursue those options, then it could come back to haunt you.
4. The debtor tries coaxing you into an argument about why the balance is high.
Maybe they have acknowledged that they owe money, but they’re not agreeing to the amount that you’re trying to collect. They want to know why you’re charging them $500 when they only borrowed $300.
Creditors are not obligated to verbalize a detailed explanation of the balance in these potentially combative situations. It makes it too easy for you to engage in an argument, which is likely being recorded. But you should do your homework and have the numbers well-documented.
Instead of arguing the point, refer the individual back to the billing materials you’ve previously sent along with any backing policies that they can review for themselves on your website.
5. The debtor is calling from an area where FDCPA violation lawsuits are common.
Some parts of the country, Colorado and New York particularly, see many more FDCPA-inspired lawsuits than others. If it appears that a debtor is trying to contact you about their debt from one of these locations, be extra vigilant not to slip up.
Always take the high road with your debtors. You might even consider outsourcing the debt collection arm or accounts receivable management of your business to an outside firm that has extensive experience working within the confines of federal, state, and local laws.
Creditors need to tread very carefully around the FDCPA. While most debtors may be accepting of what they owe, the Internet has made it much easier for consumers to know their rights and potentially manipulate those rights to their advantage. That’s why you may not wish to go it alone.
Instead, consider trusting a debt recovery service with many years of experience getting clients from a variety of industries paid quickly. Choose Southwest Recovery Services! We’re ready to help in any way that we can and are standing by to help you get the payments you earned without the legal hassles and headaches.