Steadfast FinancesDebt Collector Scare Tactics Straight Out of Goodfellas

Debt Collector Scare Tactics Straight Out of Goodfellas

Filed in Consumer Education , Debt Reduction 21 comments

I’m all for repaying your debts and owning up to your responsibilities, but there are some situations when bad things happen and repaying what you owe isn’t a realistic possibility.

If you happen to be in this unfortunate situation, let’s hope the debt collectors featured in this CNN report aren’t the sort of (Good)fellas calling on you to get your mortgage payment up to date, or worse, used their own money to buy your zombie debt for 3 cents on the dollar hoping to make a 33.3 fold profit on their investment.

So if you’re receiving this kind of collection call:

When I see you, I’m gonna f*** you up! I want my money and I want it now.

You will want to save those voicemail messages.

[RSS Readers please click to site for video]

After this sort of over the top collection attempts, it’s not surprising that Green Tree Servicing and other debt collection agencies find themselves being sued for mafia-like collection tactics.

What to Do When Debt Collectors are Harassing You

To be completely honest, I’ve never had to deal with such a situation. So I’m not exactly sure what you should do other than repay your bills on time.

However, there are former debt collectors and experts in the collections field who now write about their experiences, as well as offer advice on what you should and should not do.

  1. Document Everything. If you feel you’re being harassed by a debt collection agency, then by all means, make absolutely certain that you document every single occasion when they sent you a threatening letter, harassing phone call or left a disturbing voicemail message. If a debt collector actually comes to your front door, take a photo if you can and immediately write down what was said. If you want to prove harassment, you need proof other than just your word.
  2. Educate Yourself on Your Rights as a Debtor. Even though a debt collector may treat you like a deadbeat who can’t repay their debts, you still have rights under the Fair Debts Collection Process Act. If they violate your rights, you have several options to fight back. Threatening behavior is obviously a violation, but other rules such as who they can contact, what times they can call, or if they can call you at work, are worthwhile pieces of information you should know.
  3. Educate Yourself About Fighting Back Against the Debt Collectors. Once you assess your situation and you strongly feel that it’s your best interests to fight the debt collectors versus repay what you owe, you need to arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can. Whether this be simply disputing that you owe anything at all, or something as massive as suing a debt collector for harassment, you need as much information and guidance as you can get.

Got a debt collection horror story that rivals getting your legs broken? I’m sure the group would love to hear about it.

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Posted by CJ   @   8 December 2009 21 comments
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Dec 9, 2009
2:32 pm

I saw that report on TV and it was an eyeopener.

Another bit of advice is not to promise anything or say anything that can be used against you especially over the phone. They usually record the conversations, something you can easily forget about once an exchange becomes heated.

Good advice on documenting everything. Don’t agree to anything unless you FIRST get it in writing, and is should go without saying that you never send money without a written agreement, even if they make a verbal promise to cut your debt if you make a partial payment. Their purpose is to collect on past due debts and they’ll do what ever they need to to get it done, even if it isn’t fair.

The other thing I remember about the show was how little the authorities were able to do about the collectors. They seem to operate in a gray zone.
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Fast Track to Frequent Flyer Miles =-.

Dec 10, 2009
11:34 am
#2 Craig :

I never knew you had these rights before. Thanks a lot. hopefully I won’t be in one of those situations.

Dec 10, 2009
1:37 pm
#3 Ashley :

I heard about this a while back and was amazed at how horrible the debt collectors were to the couple.

However, I don’t feel bad for those that face harassment from debt collectors in all cases and feel like it’s a a consequence of their bad judgment. Before you think I’m a horrible person for saying that I’ll explain:
My friend maxed out her Express credit card at over 1K and was making min. payments. She lost her job, stopped making payments, but spends money on unnecessary items (trips to the salon, expensive dinners, a vacation to LA). While talking about the situation she stated that “Express would get their money when (she) felt like giving it to them and that (she) doesn’t have the money to spare at the moment due to her job loss.” The reality is that she doesn’t want to adjust her budget to pay back her debts because she realizes that legally their isn’t much that can be done to her past dinging her credit.
IMO, that’s stealing and if someone calls her 30 times a day to try and collect that money from her I have no sympathy.
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..My Two Cents: MasterCard’s Mango Money =-.

Dec 22, 2009
8:12 pm
#4 Mike :

Ashley, thanks for clarifying your point by limiting to a “friend” who neglects responsibility.

Yes, such people exist.

However, even THEY do NOT deserve abusive debt collection practices. Until ALL consumers understand their rights under state and federal laws, debt collectors will harass the hell out of people ALLEGEDLY owing money.

Daily, desperate people contact me, seeking advice.

@Craig I too hope you never wake up to a debt collection nightmare. Back in college, I woke up to Identity Theft and debt collectors. By no fault of my own, I experienced the most disgusting monsters imaginable: debt collectors. I was in shock, not equipped to deal with what had happened.

Do you think one of these debt collectors believed me when I said it wasn’t me? Do you think I had any clue how to fight back?

Would you believe that almost 80% of ALL credit reports (including YOURS) includes inaccurate reporting errors? Chances are, these errors are hurting your scores.

Together, WE can STOP abusive debt collectors. When you were in grade school, you sure as hell didn’t put up with a bully’s BS. Neither should you EVER tolerate a debt collector violating your rights.

Know your rights, so you know what’s right and wrong. Of course, if Ashley’s “friend” is reading this post, pay your bills if you can. You’re screwing it up for others who truly are suffering hardship.

88-112 MILLION have “bad” credit. This plague is not subsiding. Debt collectors are licking their chops.

.-= Mike´s last blog ..Phony Debt Collectors Don’t Need Guns To Steal Your Money Reports Better Business Bureau! =-.

Dec 10, 2009
11:08 pm
#5 Matt SF :

@ Kyle

Good stuff! Thanks for posting the link because that’s an important distinction since one wants their money back, and another is making money off of you.

Dec 10, 2009
11:11 pm
#6 Matt SF :

@ Kevin,

Well said. I’m not sure I would be comfortable giving someone my payment information over the phone even if they said I owed something.

Since enforcement is so lax, how would I know they’re really who they say they are and they’re trying to collect a legit debt. They could buy 100 tickets to OzzFest once they get my credit card info for all I know.

Scary stuff!

Dec 22, 2009
8:45 pm
#7 Mike :

@Matt SF, GREAT common sense! I wish everyone understood what you clearly understand.

At least 1x per week, I hear from someone who paid a debt collector who threatened the alleged “debtor.”

If I showed up at your door demanding money, are you going to pay me off?

What if I know everything about you and your family? What if I tell you I’m going to have you arrested or that I’ll call all your relatives, neighbors and employer?

YES, this really happens, and this is why most people pay up. Most debt collectors know very well how far they can push you.

In fact, Matt, this is one popular technique used by Identity Thieves. Pretend to be a debt collector. Most people have no experience with debt collectors or persuasion techniques. I know the “skip tracing” services most DCs use and the amount of information they can extract on you and me.

If someone calls you out of the blue, knows everything about you & plausibly (and forcefully) demands money from you or else…what are you going to do?

And don’t even try to tell me you’re college educated and wouldn’t fall for some debt collector’s bullsh*t. I’ve seen some of the smartest people pay up the fastest.

Give debt collectors the litmus test BEFORE ever giving them the time of day.


Dec 23, 2009
11:02 pm
#8 Matt SF :

Well said Mike! I think an out of the blue call from a debt collector rattling off your personal information with staccato like precision is just enough to put the debtor (or mark) in the shock and awe mindset.

In a sense, it’s not all that different from basic dog psychology: if you scare them harshly enough, quickly enough, they will comply with your every demand. Panic is a good tool to harness if you’re in the quick hitter trade.

Perhaps it’s the synergistic effect of not knowing your rights as a debtor, as well as the personal embarrassment of being called out as a deadbeat that can’t repay their bills.

That might also be why the smartest people pay up the fastest when their claim is bogus… they know their credit score is the equivalent of oxygen in today’s financial world, and they’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid taking a hit.

Dec 30, 2009
1:40 am
#9 Collector :

Actually, calling a debtor a “deadbeat” would count as harassment. It would be considered “name-calling”.
Don’t let a collector stereotype you.

Dec 10, 2009
11:12 pm
#10 Matt SF :

@ Craig,

A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure!

Dec 10, 2009
11:16 pm
#11 Matt SF :

@ Ashley,

Couldn’t agree more. I firmly believe there are those that deserve some tough love. I don’t know if I would ratchet it up on someone who lost a job, but she doesn’t seem all that broken up about it since she’s still living something of the good life.

Thanks for pointing out there are two sides to every coin.

Dec 14, 2009
10:31 am
#12 Patrick :

Very eye opening. My brother was in debt when he moved out of my parents home and my parents received multiple calls for a couple months until they sent a registered letter informing the debt collector he no longer lived there. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about these rules at the time or it would have saved them a few months of headaches!
.-= Patrick ´s last blog ..Best Credit Cards: Cash Back and Rewards Points =-.

Dec 14, 2009
11:50 am
#13 Matt SF :

Scary stuff, but almost makes me consider getting into the third party debt collection business. The amount of money to had buy buying at 3 cents and settling at 50 cents on the dollar is tempting to say the least.

Of course, I’d like to think a “kill them with kindness” business model would work better than breaking kneecaps.

Dec 30, 2009
1:35 am
#14 Collector :

It is better to use the “kill them with kindness” model because (even though the commission is great)being the wake-up call for people to realize their debt is something they NEED to take care of, without threatening to kill them, is rewarding itself because it’s one less bill that person needs to worry about if we can figure out how that person can get rid of this debt. A lot of debtors I get WANT to get their debts off their chest and are willing to work with me to take care of it, it’s just a matter of HOW.

In the case of that “friend” with the Express card, her account will probably get dropped by a collecting agency like mine and possibly get dumped into the legal bin by the creditor or another collection agency that buys it for 30cents/dollar and tries to collect on 50cents/dollar. She could be looking at lawsuits, if that’s the way that creditor/collector decides to go but since I know nothing on that case other than what was written above I can’t say for sure.
So her $40 haircut could end up costing more like $4,000 so I hope she enjoyed it, lol.

Dec 30, 2009
1:26 am
#15 Collector :

Thanks for posting a great video stating not ALL debt collection agencies are bad.
I just started working for one, and like that lady from the collections agency in the video, we are very careful to stay within FDCPA laws. If the debtor has let their account go to collections (though sometimes it’s a forgotten account, co-signed, etc)it is in their best interest to work with the collector to get their debt taken care of so they don’t have even larger bills in the future. Don’t let a collector harass you but also, listen to the options given because honestly, it could end up worse if a debtor just ignores all calls & letters.

REMEMBER: A bill sitting in collections is usually at the highest interest rate possible so it’s better to get it taken care of as soon as possible.

Dec 30, 2009
7:34 am
#16 Matt SF :

Thanks for the kind words and good tips.

Just for clarification, what sort of interest rates are we talking about when a debt crosses your desk?

Dec 12, 2012
5:03 pm
#17 Anon :

People should pay their bills. This has nothing to do with the collectors..Its the people not paying up…

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