Debt Collector Phone Call Checklist
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
In this article, you can learn:
- What you can do to protect your rights when contacted by a debt collector
- Download a checklist to keep track of times you think a debt collector may have broken the law
Get it in writing
You do not have to talk to a debt collector over the phone. Debt collectors prefer to talk to you because it works to their advantage. Written communication works to your advantage because you have a record of everything that they say. Debt collectors are less likely to break the law if they have to put what they say in writing.
Make sure you keep copies of all letters the debt collector sends to you. The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) includes written letters, and not just phone calls. Keeping copies of letters from a debt collector may be useful later on if you have to go to court.
It is not always practical to work with a debt collector only by writing. If you do need to talk over the phone, keep a journal with you to record every time you talk with a debt collector. For each phone call, write down:
- Date and time of the call
- If the debt collector called you
- Name of the debt collection company
- Name and/or employee number of the person you talked with
- Account number of the debt you talked about
- Any promises that the debt collector made
- Any threats the debt collector made
- Any of the other things we talked about earlier that are illegal for a debt collector to do.
If you agree to anything during a phone call, it is a good idea to ask for a copy of that agreement in writing. Keep that agreement safe.
If the debt collector will not send you the agreement in writing, you can write them a letter to confirm the agreement. Include the date and time you talked, who you talked to, and the terms of the agreement. Send this letter with your first payment to confirm the plan you agreed to. Keep a copy for yourself. Keep your copy safe.
When working with a debt collector, it is a good idea to keep notes of every phone call to help protect your rights. You can download our “Debt Collector Phone Call Checklist” at the bottom of this article to help you take notes.
Need More Information?
If you have any questions about your rights or this form, it would be a good idea to read our article about what a debt collector can and cannot do.
Montana Legal Services Association provides free civil legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help.