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Keeping after a debtor who's avoiding you and stalling payment

Dec 29, 2011 Mike Garretson

As a debt collector, it may be difficult at first to know if a debtor is avoiding you or legitimately hasn't received a notice of payment. Understanding the differences and practicing the standards of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act can ensure you will obtain that debt. Many individuals don't answer or don't have hardlines at home, and they may not even have an answering machine on that line. If you leave a message, disclose the nature of your call without sounding threatening. In addition, it is illegal to consistently call the debtor in an abusive and redundant manner. "A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt," the FDCPA explains. "Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number." While the terms 'abuse' and 'repeatedly' are open to the discretion of the courts, a debt collector should not call multiple times in one day, and even once a day for a week straight can be viewed as excessive. Debtors with caller ID that can see who is calling might purposefully avoid picking up the phone. At the same time, if the number shows up as 'private' on the caller ID, they might also not pick up. Sometimes it can be a lose-lose situation with the phone, even if a message is left, it's never guaranteed they'll call back. In this case, a debt collector can find alternative methods of contact, such as email and post-mail. Some debtors who understand the ins and outs of the debt collection practices may take advantage of the system by delaying payment with legal loopholes. According to a leading debt payment solutions provider, debtors can request a validation of payment, submit a sworn denial, request a discovery, go to court and appeal the court's ruling if it's in the debt collector's favor. All these steps can delay a debt payment for weeks or months. Unfortunately, there may be no way around this, but if the debtor wants to go down that road, more often than not they will lose because they entered a contract and legally owe you money. The best thing you can do is to remain persistent throughout the ongoing and tasking legal process and gain payment in the end. If a debtor would rather pay legal fees and lawyers, lose the case and then pay the debt, that's their choice.