How to Handle Debt Collectors that try to Collect Invalid Debts

Debt collectors are hated by many people. This is because they are not always honest or scrupulous in collecting debts that are past due. In their very lowest form, they will even attempt to collect debts that are not owed by the person they are contacting. When they try to collect these debts, it is helpful for people to know their rights so that they cannot be taken advantage of by unscrupulous debt collectors that try to collect money that is not owed.

It is very important for people to realize that many debt collection agencies buy debt that has been charged off by companies for pennies on the dollar. Any money that they are able to collect from this debt is money for themselves and their company. Because their living depends on collecting from people who are desperate to make them go away, they often resort to unscrupulous tactics to make people feel as if they have to pay whether they owe the money or not.  It is important for people to remember that nobody has to pay for any debt that they do not owe.

When a person is contacted by a debt collector for a debt that they do not owe, the first thing that they should do is to make sure that they are actually the person that the debt collection agency is trying to contact.  Many debt collectors just start looking through phone books or online databases for information only to be led to someone who shares the same name. In this case, it is important that they know they are barking up the wrong tree. They need to be told that they are to keep looking for the right person. They do not need any information beyond that.

There are also debt collectors that will actually buy debts that are not owed in hopes of bullying the debtor into paying. It may be a debt that has been long since settled or even paid in full.  It may be a “zombie” debt that is past the statute of limitations. Either way, the debtor no longer can be forced to pay this debt. 

It is important that the person being contacted lets the collector know in no uncertain terms that it is not their debt. Trying to tell them that it’s already been paid may be an exercise in futility. If all else fails, not accepting their calls is acceptable. There is no need to waste time talking when they will not accept that the debt is not owed. If it reaches a point where they are calling too much to the point of harassment, it may become necessary for them to be reported to the federal trade commission. This is the last step, but may finally get them to stop calling.