违约严重损害了借款人。它可以减少他们的 信用评分, leave a derogatory mark on their credit report, and make life difficult for at least the next few years. But defaults aren’t great news for lenders, either. They are costly, time-consuming—much more trouble than they’re worth.
Your original creditors may hire this agency to collect the debt on their behalf; they may sell it to them entirely, wiping their hands clean and cutting their losses in the process. In either case, it’s a very costly process for the creditor. If they are assigned the debt, they’ll charge a fee that can be as high as 60% of the total balance and they may also charge the creditor for every call they make and letter they send.
In other words, they are incentivized to hassle you, not only because it increases the odds of a collection, but because they’re increasing their bill every time they do so.
If the debt is purchased, it’s often for cents on the dollar and the older the debt it is, the cheaper it will be. As an example, time-barred debt, which is 超过法定时效的债务，是每美元债务仅几美分即可批量购买的。作为借款人，您需要牢记这一点，因为这意味着即使您同意仅支付一部分债务，该机构仍将从您的债务中获利。
Of course, many debtors won’t pay anything at all, and collection agencies have costs to cover—they won’t offer to clear your debt for a few bucks and a smile, but you probably have more room to maneuver then you think.
无抵押债务，例如私立学生贷款和 信用卡债务 is at the back of the line when it comes to collecting. It’s a different story with government debt though and collectors have been known to use this to their advantage and pretend to be from the government.
Unless you have a judgment against you or have declared bankruptcy, the courts and the government have no interest in your debt.
In any case, if there isn’t a judgment against you then they don’t have the power to arrest you. This applies even if the statute of limitations has not yet passed.
A debt collector can call you and send you letters, and they can also use the internet and other public information to track you down. However, they can’t threaten you, use profane language or call you at inappropriate times.
You can also contact them and request they don’t contact you at work or contact any of your loved ones. As soon as this letter is received then they must obey it.
A debt collector can contact friends and loved ones to track you down, but they can’t continue to contact them if you explicitly tell them not to, and they can’t provide them with details of your debt. They definitely can’t announce your debt in any public forum and if they threaten to do so then they are either posturing or are about to commit an illegal act.
The Federal Trade Commission has placed collection agencies on a pretty short leash, but they do still have some power and the things they are allowed to do might surprise you:
If the statute of limitations has expired, a collection agency can’t sue you for a debt and you’re no longer legally responsible for it. However, that doesn’t mean they have to stop chasing you for it. They will still contact you and insist that you repay the debt, maintaining that you have a moral obligation to do so, even though the original creditor probably won’t see a single cent of the payment.
If you agree to their demands and offer to repay some of the money or sign a contract, you may void the statute of limitations and become responsible for the debt again.
Your creditor may sell your debt after just a few months, at which point a collection agency will take over. But that doesn’t mean that your debt will disappear if that agency can’t collect. They are well within their rights to sell the debt to someone else, which will restart the collection process and could potentially produce more phone calls, letters, and requests.
Don’t assume that you’ve dodged a bullet just because one agency has left you alone. If the debt has yet to pass the statute of limitations, there’s a good chance you won’t have heard the last of it.
- 公平，友好和坚定： Debt collectors may be seeking to claim money you don’t have, but ultimately, they’re just doing their job and operating within the confines of the law. They’re also human, and if you’re short and aggressive with them, they’ll reciprocate. Be friendly, but don’t let them run over you, and as soon as they change their tone and become aggressive, you can change as well and show them that you’re not going to be pushed over.
- 了解您的权利： As soon as an account goes into collections, a debt collector will try to contact you. At this point, you need to check local laws concerning fair practices and statute of limitations to stay informed about what they can and can’t do.
- 不要相信他们： If they say something that sounds dubious, don’t accept it as fact. Tell them that you will look into it and leave it at that. You don’t need to make decisions on the spot, and you should never accept anything they say as fact without backing it up first. They may use scare tactics to convince you to pay debts that have passed their statute of limitations or to accept larger settlements/repayments than you can afford.
- 保持纪录： If possible, record all conversations you have with debt collectors and request all official offers and statements in written form. That way, if things turn sour then you have more than just your word to back up your side of the story.
- 不要让他们的生活变得轻松： Remember, while debt collectors are there to do a job, they’re also seeking massive profits. They’re relying on you rolling over and agreeing to their terms so they can collect a massive profit. Don’t make life easy for them. When dealing with debt collectors you need to stand firm, make it abundantly clear that you don’t have much money and can’t afford big settlements. They’ll get the idea eventually and will offer a favorable deal.
Be very careful how you deal with a collection agency. Keep these steps in mind when dealing with them:
They will try to pressure and scare you into paying when they first contact you. This is when they are at their strongest, as they have the advantage of surprise and have caught you unawares. They will pull out all the stops to convince you to pay some or all of the debt, but as soon as you do then you’re acknowledging it and that can have serious repercussions for you.
They may have the wrong person; they may be asking you to take responsibility for the death of a loved one (see our guide to 死后会发生什么债务) or they may be chasing a time-barred debt. In all cases, you may not be legally obliged to pay.
While debt collectors are forced to adhere to strict codes of conduct, we’re still talking about for-profit companies here and most of them are staffed by collectors who are very good at pressuring consumers into paying.
Only by knowing your rights can you avoid these tactics without denying them any legal privileges. We have discussed all of these rights in this guide, so read it through before you next deal with a collection agency.
Once you have established that the debt is yours and has not expired, you can negotiate payment. As mentioned already, they purchase these debts cheaply and are typically very happy to negotiate a massively reduced settlement, going as low as 20% to 30% of the original amount. You can also negotiate a payment plan or give them a post-dated check, but in most cases, they are only interested in a straight-up settlement.
After all, you don’t exactly have a perfect history when it comes to meeting monthly payments and staying on top of your debt obligations.
We’ve covered most of what you need to know with regards to what a debt agency is allowed to do and how a debt appears in your credit report, but it’s worth clarifying your rights when dealing with an original creditor and/or a debt collector.
By law, a debt collector is required to provide you with all the following information on a debt they are seeking a collection for:
- The name and address of the creditor (including previous details if they have changed).
What are the Rights Guaranteed to Consumers Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?