How to Deal with Debt Collectors when you cant pay

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How do I deal with debt collection agencies if you can’t pay? Here we are giving some great tips to help you cope, knowing that debt collectors have many tactics to collect payments on debts, but there are some things they cannot do.

How to deal with debt collection agencies when you can’t pay

1. Don’t give in to the pressure to pay on first contact.

Just like you wouldn’t step into a contract without understanding its terms, don’t rush to make a payment when a debt collection agency contacts you. Take the time to think about your options.

Do not pay, promise not to pay, or provide payment information for the collector to use later. Ask for information about the debt and say that you will call back to discuss it later.

2. Know your rights and how they are used.

The Debt Collectors Act is your ally. This law describes your rights as a consumer and protects you from predatory collecting tactics. For example:

  • Communication: You can determine how and when collection agencies can contact you – and that they stop communication altogether. Debt collectors are prohibited from using profane language or threatening violence.
  • Honesty: Debt collectors cannot mislead you about who they are, how much money you owe, or the legal ramifications of failing to pay your debt – for example, by threatening you with arrest.
  • Challenge the debt: You have the right to dispute the debt. If you dispute the debt, the collector cannot request payment until the dispute is resolved. After 30 days, you can still dispute the claim, but the collector can request payment while the dispute is being investigated.
  • You have the right to seek legal advice before signing anything. In the legal world, your signature on a document such as a debt acknowledgment can have serious financial consequences.
  • A right to be treated with dignity at all times.
  • The right to confidentiality.
  • The right not to be contacted before 6am or after 9pm or on a Sunday.
  • The right not to be harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or threatened.
  • To get an explanation, request a free one every six months.
If you have a complaint against a collection agency, contact the Collection Agency Council
  • All complaints must be made in writing and under oath.
  • If you have a complaint about the actions or conduct of a collection agency, or if you are unsure of your rights:

Contact
The council for debt collection agencies
P.O. Box 35629
Menlo Park, 0102
Telephone: 012 804 9808 Fax: 012 804 0744
Email: info@cfdc.org.za

Check if you qualify for debt counseling.

Debt counseling applications can now be completed online, free of charge, and from the comfort of your home. Call us on 0878 221 249 or email queries@ndrc.org.za for help.

It’s general practice debt collectors:

  • Harass and threaten people with dire consequences in order to get them to pay off their debts. But the reality is that when a debt collection agency is trying to collect an unsecured debt, it is pretty limited in terms of the legal steps they can take to collect from you.
  • However, if the debt is secured (i.e. a collection) the process is different. Where your assets can be taken away if the debt is not kept up to date.
  • Most collection agencies are paid based on the amount of money collected. You can give up if the collection volume is low. However, you won’t get away with it scot-free: The fact that the debt has been sent to debt collection and not paid will further damage your credit rating and your creditworthiness.
  • Debt collectors will go to considerable lengths to collect large debts. If you are sued by a debt collection agency, you will be notified of the lawsuit through a subpoena stating why, how much, and what date to appear in court.
  • If the debt collector wins the lawsuit, the judge will grant him a certain amount of money. However, the debt collector cannot collect the money from you immediately. Instead, he will need to get the court’s permission to take certain measures to try to collect from you. For example, the debtor can ask the court for permission to:
    • Garnish your salary. If the court gives the debt collection agency permission to garnish your salary, it will issue an order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of your salary from each paycheck for a certain period of time.
  • Take one or more of your assets. When a collection agency is given permission to take over an asset you own, the asset is sold in a public auction and the proceeds are applied to your debt.
  • Establish a mortgage on one of your assets. If a lien is placed on one of your assets, you cannot sell or borrow it without paying the debtor the money you have so that the lien can be removed. – Debtbuster

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