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Account negotiation phone scripts and talking points

Do collectors keep calling you, and you don’t know how to respond. Know what to say and what not to say in advance, or you’ll lose every time you’re extremely good at negotiating. Be ready to offer your terms once (maybe twice) and if they refuse to work with you, end the conversation! As important, learn whether what the collector did or said violated your basic consumer rights. There are at least ten federal consumer protection statutes and state laws in addition to the FDCPA that award consumers money damages for violations of these laws. And log the details of the calls and conversations.

Collector call scripts are often designed to violate your rights

Bill collectors have a job to do and some collectors perform this distasteful duty in a very professional manner. Debt collectors who act professionally usually do so because they received training. But every debt collector’s questions remain designed to gather enough personal information about you to figure out how much you can afford to pay and to pursue your financial assets through court actions. In order to stay focused on and maximize their collection efforts many collection agencies and independent bill collectors use a collector call script, or “dunning script.”

You can be as prepared for the call as they are by considering the below phone scripts and talking points for negotiating with collectors. Reviewing and revising this script in advance of the call will help you confidently and effectively discuss lower payment arrangements on delinquent accounts. Being aware of what a typical script looks like can help you prepare answers to a debt collector’s questions ahead of time and thus remain focused on protecting your rights.

And although these collector call scripts may be effective in collecting debts, they also often run afoul of your basic consumer rights. Your rights under various consumer protection statutes may be violated during each call, and you may be a victim of unfair or illegal consumer credit and debt collection tactics.  Review the call and the conversation with a fair debt attorney to see if your rights have been violated after each collector call. You may be entitled to an award of statutory damages of $500 per call, or up to $1,000 or more per law violated, plus any actual damages suffered plus attorney fees!

Expect the collector to use questions or statements in an attempt to get you to admit the debt is yours. Their script tells them to ignore your response and press on with asking you a bunch of questions. By refusing to take the “bait” you frustrate their efforts. DO NOT answer any additional questions! If the collector insists on asking questions, terminate the call. Expect the collector to call right back and track the call. Insist the collector send you the proper and tell then you are revoking permission for them to call.

Be prepared for any and all of the questions below and consider each question carefully before answering. Remember, you do NOT have to answer any questions, and ask yourself which questions you should answer and which ones you should weigh heavily before giving a stranger your information. Questions you will likely get asked but do not have to answer include:

  • The name, address and phone number of your employer.
  • How much your take-home pay is.
  • Whether your spouse is working.
  • Whether you have other sources of income: (child support, part-time work, in home day care and so forth).
  • Whether you rent or own.
  • The make, model, and year of your car(s).
  • Where you bank (checking and savings, name of bank).
  • Whether you can borrow money from anyone.

Track all collection calls, inbound and outbound

Debt collectors and bill collectors calling on behalf of creditors use prepared scripts with canned questions and answers when they call you to collect. That’s ok, as the first and fastest way for a bill collector to violate your rights when delinquent is with these phone calls. And  repeat calls and harassing calls can also be the easiest evidence to gather. With this phone log, track who called, when and why. You may also want to consider recording calls from particular numbers you recognize, if your state recording law allows you to do so (called one party consent). Give the completed log to a Fair Debt Lawyer and see what your rights are.

Don’t despair, harassing bill collectors and creditors can be stopped. Lawmakers and courts know the game and have created protections for you in addition to the FDCPA. For example, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act applies to robo dialed calls from collectors and creditors. Be sure to capture all important information, including the name of the person (or ID or reference number) you spoke with and their company, the time and date, number called including extensions, amount agreed upon and when the payments are due. Also be sure, within 5 business days, to send a payment agreement letter or stop calling letter, depending on the circumstances and how the call went.

What to know and say when negotiating with bill collectors

Always find out who you are talking to. Under the FDCPA, collectors must identify themselves and their company.

“Please tell me your name and the company you work for so I may enter your call into my phone log.”

Let the collector know your position. Be direct and to the point and use their name.

I am experiencing financial difficulties at this time and have fallen behind (or going to fall behind) on my payments to you. My account number is ____.

Be sincere and give the collector a chance to offer suggestions. Enter the entire conversation in your phone log. Remember to record the collector’s name and the date, time, and specifics about the conversation.

I’d like to bring my account current. Can we arrange a payment plan?

Unless they suggest a payment plan that you can afford DO NOT agree to anything!  They’ll suggest borrowing from others, refinancing your home or car loan, or putting the debt on another credit card. Using these options means robbing Peter to pay Paul and, more than likely, will just push you deeper in debt. Do not agree to an amount that you cannot afford! If necessary, work with a debt settlement lawyer or financial counselor to set up a spending plan budget. If the creditor/collector suggests an amount you can’t afford, state the amount established in your budget.

“I am currently working with a professional with my financial situation. I have other creditors with whom I need to make similar arrangements. I can afford to pay {state the amount you can really afford not what they are demanding} for the next {weeks, months} months.”

As part of your repayment process, negotiate what will be reported to credit bureaus. Begin thinking about the future and how this repayment schedule will affect your credit report. You want to keep it off your credit reports so make this part of your payment agreement.

“Once I’ve successfully repaid this debt, we agree any negative information given to the credit bureaus be removed from my credit report.”

Send a confirmation letter. Oral agreements may be difficult to prove or enforce, so always make a written record.

“Thank you {Creditor/Collector’s Name}, for working with me. I will make {$ amount of payment} payments beginning {date of first payment}. I will send you a letter within five business days confirming our agreement today and, once again, let me thank you for understanding my situation. Please remove my phone number from your call cue, I do not want you to call me again, for both of our protection, I think we should communicate in writing only. Good bye.”

WARNING! Be absolutely certain the debt statute of limitations (SoL) has not expired before agreeing to anything, but especially before making a token payment! In many states, a token payment or a written agreement to pay resets the SoL clock!

If you do NOT wish to pay the debt, send a letter saying so. If they contact you again they’ve likely violated a law.

Give me your address so that I may send you a refusal to pay and cease and desist letter in accordance with the applicable laws. And please make this your last call to me, I am revoking permission for you to call me at any number at all.

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