When I meet with an individual, the person is often shocked to find out that there are no laws requiring an individual to give information to a creditor or collector over the phone or even in writing. I will share with a client, “What creditors know can hurt you.” Further, most creditors and collectors have had years of practice gleaning information from debtors, so, for the most part, they have the upper hand.
What Creditors Cannot Do
For whatever reason, in our society today, many feel compelled that they must answer questions and hand over their information when asked by the caller. However, it is important to keep in mind the following information:
***There is NO law that requires that you answer your telephone.
***You CANNOT be arrested for not paying your debt.
***You WILL NOT be put in jail for being behind on bills or not paying creditors.
***You ARE NOT required to give anyone information over the telephone or answer any questions.
Protecting Yourself from Collector Harassment
Don’t Answer the Phone if You Don’t Know Who It Is
I am of the opinion that “caller ID” was, indeed, one of the best inventions of the 20th century. For those old enough to remember, there was a time when we had no idea who was calling and one may need to answer the phone in case it was an emergency. But I advise clients every day, if you do not know the number, you do not have to answer the phone. A message can be left, if necessary.
Most, when they hear this, are greatly relieved as they were under the wrong impression that all calls and questions from creditors needed to be answered. This is not true and the more information creditors or collectors have from you, the more likely they are to aggressively collect from you. Their actions could include filing a lawsuit or garnishing your wages once they have obtained the information that may not have been previously available.
Additionally, I am adamant in advising clients to be very careful about the information that is shared on social media. I am convinced that creditors and collectors check Facebook or other media sources to obtain information about employment, addresses, etc. Remember: creditors and collectors are not working to help YOU or benefit YOU in any way. They are working to benefit their own company.
Our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help you with questions you may have regarding creditors and collections. Please contact one of our offices today to come in for a free consultation. We are here for you!
Suzanne Shinn is a shareholder of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama and Mississippi. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. She joined the Bond & Botes team in 1992 as its first associate attorney and has been helping clients navigate the bankruptcy process ever since. Read her full bio here.