If you’re in debt this year, an important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. While it’s easy to feel guilty about carrying too much consumer debt, as 2020’s economy continues to remain volatile and unemployment rates remain high, there are many Americans facing seemingly-insurmountable debts this year. Especially in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the situation. These matters can be complicated by predatory collectors harassing you for the money you owe them.
Believe it or not, there are actually guidelines to when and how a debt collector can contact you about repaying your loan or missed bills. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (also known as the TCPA) explicitly outlines the importance of consumer consent before a specific phone call can be made, and that law applies to debt collectors. As such, if you’re receiving phone calls or other communications in violation of state and national statutes, you may have a few different options at your disposal as you face ongoing harassment. Here are a few tips and tricks for navigating debt collection harassment.
1. Work with an attorney to figure out your options.
If you think that your debt collector’s phone calls constitute harassment, the best thing to do is speak to a licensed TCPA attorney as soon as possible. Many TCPA lawyers offer free consultations to learn more about your specific situation and help walk you through how the Telephone Consumer Protection Act could impact your case. For example, if you’re receiving phone calls outside the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. or have asked to be placed on a “do not call” list, the debt collector may be in violation of the law, and you may be owed money.
Determining how much of a settlement you’re owed is part of why it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer since more egregious cases will likely require more of a settlement. Generally speaking, though, each offense could be worth up to $500, so if your debt collector has been harassing you for weeks or months, you may be able to get a pretty large settlement by pressing charges. Since this money can help deal with your harassment issues while also offering you some money to spend towards paying down your debt, this is definitely an avenue worth pursuing if you’re serious about facing your debt collector.
2. Speak with a therapist to figure out coping strategies.
Debt can take a major toll on your mental health. As such, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at getting a therapist in order to help you talk through the emotions you’re feeling. You’ll likely have a few pieces of paperwork and some intake questions to fill out and answer prior to your first therapy session, but, after that, all you’ll need to do to work with your therapist is attend regular sessions.
A therapist can help you get to the bottom of some of the behavioral components of your debt problem, while also advising you on how to deal with the stress that being harassed by debt collectors can cause. Having an outlet and a safe space to discuss these issues can ultimately help in other areas of your life as well since lowering your stress levels has numerous benefits.
3. Get your personal finances in order.
If you’re getting calls from debt collectors, it’s easy to dismiss the phone calls as predatory or harassment. However, even if that’s the case, phone calls from debt collectors can also be taken as a warning sign about your personal finances. After all, if you’re getting contacted by collection agencies in the first place, it could be a sign that you’re behind on bills or struggling to make ends meet.
Of course, in the middle of a pandemic, it can be difficult to get your finances in order. However, by focusing on the issue at hand, you may be able to make some strides towards financial stability. One of the best ways to get started is to get on a written budget and live within your means. Many people accrue credit card debt by spending money they don’t have in the first place. By knowing exactly where all of your money needs to go each month, you’ll be well on your way to wrestling your debt into submission instead of looking for extra purchases to solve your problems of how to stay busy at home during the pandemic.
4. Prepare for job interviews to pick up a second job.
Sometimes, after getting on a written budget and eliminating unnecessary expenses, you may realize that your problem is more related to income than it is expenses. In these situations, it makes sense to pick up a second job or a side hustle in order to bring in some extra money. Even working part-time at a grocery store or restaurant can wind up netting you an extra $1,000 to $2,000 a month, which goes a long way towards addressing your financial problems. Make sure to invest in some good outfits to wear to interviews so that you make a good impression. While it may sound counterproductive to address your money problems by buying clothes, even the purchase of one women wrinkle free shirt can help you stand out in your interview and land a job.
While debt collection harassment can be demoralizing and even scary at times, it’s important to remember that you do have things you can do to make the situation better. Working with an attorney can be a major boon for you stopping unwanted calls, and you might even qualify for compensation in the form of a settlement for the times the debt collectors violated the law. Additionally, by working with a licensed therapist, you can get to the root of your debt problems in the first place while also charting a path forward for dealing with the negative emotions associated with debt. From there, you can refocus your attention on cleaning up your personal finances by getting on a budget and picking up another job to boost your income and the amount you can pay down your debts.
While it’s not an easy road, it’s a journey worth going on, and there are plenty of professionals who can help you out along the way. By keeping the above tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be able to turn a new leaf heading into the new year. When you get to the finish line, it’ll surely be worth the extra effort!