Three of my previous posts were on “Crazy Stuff Collectors Say.” In case you missed those posts, here are the quick-links to the previous articles:
I wanted to follow up on this theme, because lately I’ve been hearing a lot of reports from clients on a tactic that seems to be getting more and more play. It’s been around forever, but I’ve been hearing it used much more often recently. Here’s how it goes:
You get a voicemail message (because you’re screening your phone calls) from a collection agency or a collection attorney firm. “This is Joe Smith with XYZ Company. I have your case file on my desk – number 12345. I strongly recommend that you have your attorney call me immediately.”
Scary sounding, right? Nope! Just a debt collector trying to get you to call back for another dose of verbal abuse and strong-arm collection pressure.
Third-party debt collectors are not permitted to threaten litigation unless (a) they are in a position to bring said litigation, and (b) they have been authorized by the creditor to file a lawsuit. But the above voicemail message technically does not violate that rule. Notice the technique. They did not say they were going to file a lawsuit. Instead, they referred to a “case number,” and you automatically think “court case” when they meant their internal file reference number. Next, they are telling you to have your attorney call them. You immediately think, “Oh, no! I must be getting sued!”
Folks, this is a BLUFF, and that’s all.
The collectors using this technique are usually the LEAST likely to bring an actual lawsuit. It’s a tactic used frequently by agencies located in a different state than yours. It’s getting harder and harder for these collectors to reach debtors, as more people become aware of their rights under the law. So this is a common tactic employed to create what I call a “false sense of urgency.”
If you are on the receiving end of collection activity and you get this type of voicemail or message, remember it’s most likely just a collection tactic to get you to call them back. If you think you might have been sued, but you’re not sure, then simply call your local courthouse and ask. It’s that simple.