No one wants a call from a collection agent. Whether you owe the money or not, receiving a call can leave you feeling angry, embarrassed, and worried. But there’s no reason to be embarrassed or concerned over a call.

You shouldn’t be embarrassed, because almost everyone has debt. According to CNBC, the average American has over $90,000 in debt. It makes sense that in our current economic climate many people would have trouble paying their debt. Third party collection agents are not making moral or ethical judgments about you. They won’t get off the phone with you and tell your friends and family that you’re a deadbeat. It’s important to remember that, unlike a business owner, a collection agent doesn’t have an emotional stake in your debt.

Getting a call from a collection agent is also no reason to be worried. In fact, collection agents can often help put an end to a difficult situation. Too often, people become so worried or embarrassed by receiving these calls that they do the worst thing possible, ignore them. Ignoring a call means that you lose control of the situation. If you owe the money, or the collection agency legitimately believes that you do, they can repeatedly contact you, report you to credit bureaus, or refer you to a lawyer to initiate litigation. Going to court is almost always expensive, no matter who wins.

What You Should Do

There are many resources available for people dealing with debt and collection agencies. The first thing you need to do is understand your rights.

The Federal Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) controls how a collection agency can contact you, the times of day and the number of times a collection agency can call or write you, what they can say, and how you can get them to stop contacting you. A recent addition to the law protects, known as Regulation F, protects you from being harassed on social media by collection agents. Understanding your rights will help you decide how to proceed.

Get it in Writing

If you receive a phone call (or return a phone message), you will want the following information for your notes.

1. Who is contacting you:

Name of the collection agency, their address, phone number, email address, case or file number, and the name of the person who has been assigned to the case.

2. Full description of the debt:

Name of the company that claims you owe them, the amount owed, the date of the debt, the product or service provided, and any interest or fees that have been added to the original amount owed.

3. A paper copy of the information:

Once you have this information, ask them to mail (or email) you a validation or debt verification letter. This letter is a full description of the debt. You can also request that they not contact you by phone until you have received the letter.

You will want to have all the information in writing about the debt before you make any decision as to how you might want to solve the situation. A paper (or email) trail makes it easy for you to follow up. A paper trail also provides proof that the issue has been resolved.


Be aware that scammers often present themselves as collection agents. They tell people they owe money and try to get them to pay non-existent bills. That’s why it’s so important to receive the information in writing. If you don’t recognize the debt, you may want to call them back to confirm the collection agency is legitimate. If the collection agent objects to giving you information in writing, or becomes abusive, it’s a sign that this is a scam.

What If You Can’t Pay

Remember, everything is negotiable, including whether or not you have to pay interest, fees, and possibly even getting a discount off the original amount given your financial circumstances. If you can arrange for a payment plan, you should do so. It is the quickest way out of the situation. Keep track of your payments so that you have proof the debt is resolved once you are done.

Depending on your situation, it may also be time for you to seek credit counseling and debt relief. You will want a true professional who can help you navigate the situation and come up with a comprehensive plan. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the country’s largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well-being. They can refer you to counselors in your area that provide financial reviews and help you determine a plan for dealing with your debt. The United States Trustee Program also keeps a list of credit counseling agencies approved to provide pre-bankruptcy counseling.

If you know how to handle a collection agency call, and can control your emotions, the situation can be easily resolved.

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I am Alex John, a blogger at