What NOT to Say to a Debt Collector

Key Takeaways
  • Debt collection agencies are experts in the law, putting you at a disadvantage.
  • Failure to understand debt collection laws could result in losing criticallegal protections.
  • Knowing what NOT to say to a debt collector can protect your legal rights.

When a debt collector calls, you probably treat it like a high-pressure sales situation. Avoid when possible, say no repeatedly, and try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, these evasive strategies can lead to more severe consequences, like legal action against you.

Yet,there are risks you take when speaking with collection agencies. Multiple federal laws and government agencies oversee the debt collection industry. To complicate matters even more, every state has its own set of rules and regulations to govern debt collector behavior and protect consumers.

Because of the intricacies of these protections, it is easy to forfeit certain rights unknowingly. Below is a list of things you should never disclose to a debt collector.

Do Not Provide Personal Information

Debt collectors use public records and internet searches to uncover assets and determine your ability to pay. They will often review your credit file and scour the register of deeds for personal and real property ownership.

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They also seek to verify your personal information to uncover additional income or assets during a conversation. Saying the wrong thing could alert a creditor to undiscovered property or income. For instance, mentioning a mortgage lets them know you own instead of rent. Disclosing an upcoming raise or starting a new job could make the company less likely to negotiate because they anticipate a turnaround in your finances.

When debt collectors seek to verify personal information,you have no obligation to provide details or even confirm what they think they know. Instead, request a formal validation of the debt, and hang up. The creditor must send the verification within 30 days so you can confirm if it is indeed your account. It is good to validate the debt even if you believe it is yours. It will prevent you from paying the wrong person, cause you to fall for a scam, and give you time to figure out the next steps.

Providing phone numbers, email addresses, or other personal information will give them more ways to harass you. They can use any information you provide to collect payments on the outstanding debt, including family contacts, employment history, or other personal data they do not currently have.

Don’t Admit to Owing Money

Admitting you owe the money can compromise your rights and give the creditor the ability to sue for a longer time. It also makes it harder to dispute the debt, the interest rate, or the amount at a later time.

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All debt has a statute of limitations restricting the time a company can sue to collect the debt. Admitting you owe them money, making a payment, or agreeing to a new payment arrangement will restart the statute of limitations in some states.

Never Provide Bank Information

Debt collection agencies want to get a payment, even of small amounts, because it restarts the statute of limitations. Giving the agency your bank account information could also lead to unauthorized charges that are challenging to reverse.

Your willingness to make a payment is your strongest negotiating tool. Providing bank information or making a payment too soon could sacrifice the leverage you need to lower the balance due. Before agreeing to an amount, get the details in writing and make it part of a broader plan to eliminate debt balances.

  • Key things to know before talking to a debt collector.

    Before discussing the debt, jot down the date, time of the call, the company, and the agent’s name. Verify the original lender and the amount you owe. You have the right to request a verification of the debt before agreeing to any payment arrangement.

  • Can a debt collector lie about my debt?

    It is illegal to lie. However, that does not prevent some collection agents from making false statements. It is not uncommon for an agent to become evasive to remain honest when asked a question that will disclose your consumer rights.


  • What should I never say to a debt collector?

    You can say many things to give creditors more power and dimmish your legal protections. For example, creditors have a limited time to take you to court. Simple things such as admitting you owe the money, agreeing to or making a payment, or making certain statements can extend the time a creditor has to sue.