You can admit it. If you have recently been sued or are enduring non-stop collection calls you are probably nervous or outright terrified about what the future holds. Visions of wage garnishments, lawsuits, and losing everything you own are probably keeping you up at night. And if truth be known, the real reason you are scared is because you aren’t really sure what is going to happen and what, if anything, you can do about it.
Back when I was in college I played football. The stadium we played in each week held 65,000 people. Usually we were on national TV. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is going to be some nervousness playing in front of that many people. What helped me in overcoming any fear I may have had (and I will never admit that I had any!) was an assurance that by the time I took the field to play I knew all of my plays inside and out. I knew exactly where I was supposed to be, who I was supposed block, and when it needed to happen.
Dealing with debt collection is similar. The fear creeps in when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing, what you are supposed to say, or even where the courthouse is located. Educating yourself on the process you are going through will not make the debt go away, but it can bring some peace when you realize that there is some order to all of this mess you find yourself in and there are things you can do to protect yourself. Here are a few examples that I find many people are unaware of:
Many people spend a lot of time worrying that their wages are going to be garnished because they fell behind on a credit card payment. The credit card company may be able to garnish your wages, some day. But they must first sue you and win. Until they have a judgment all they can really do is call you and generally be annoying. This little tid-bit alone can reduce a ton of stress.
When I meet with clients that have recently been sued they are often visibly shaken by the experience. Some so much that they freeze and don’t do anything. That is the worst thing you can do. You need to view the lawsuit that you were served with as a list of allegations. Some of the allegations may be true, some not. While there are various possible outcomes for a debt collection lawsuit, you need to know that the court system will give you an opportunity to be heard. And if you have ever been involved in the court system you know that it is not a quick process.
Understand that you have time. You have time to educate yourself, meet with an attorney, and take the steps necessary to present your defense to the allegations of the debt collector.
Almost daily I hear from people that are being bullied and abused by debt collectors. People tend to just take it because they seem to think that this is just a natural consequence of owing debt. This is garbage. Debt collectors can do their thing, but there are rules, and they have to follow them. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act governs debt collectors and prohibits the abusive behavior some of them employ in seeking to get you to pay them money. You don’t have to take it. Click here to see a list of behaviors that are prohibited.
Don’t let fear paralyze you into doing nothing. Don’t lose anymore sleep. Learn the rules of the game. Learn the system. And if you don’t want to do that, hire an attorney. The more you know, the less fear you will have. And that is a good thing.