Start My Answer

Top 7 Debt Collector Scare Tactics

Chloe Meltzer | December 13, 2023

Legal Expert
Chloe Meltzer, MA

Chloe Meltzer is an experienced content writer specializing in legal content creation. She holds a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University, complemented by a Master’s in Marketing from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Debt collectors use the same scare tactics over and over because they work. Learn their tricks and how to fight back.

Debt collection is a $10 billion industry. Each year, 70 million Americans are unable to pay their debts, and fall into the trap of debt collection. Typically this revenue comes from people who fall behind on student loans or medical bills, but others may be unable to pay their credit card bills or mortgage.

If you are being pursued for a consumer debt, you may have not even been aware of that debt until a debt collector contacts you. This might come in the form of a letter asking you to appear in court, or you might receive a call.

Harassment by a debt collector is illegal. If you are being pursued for debt, you should know about these 7 debt collector scare tactics.

Don't let debt collectors intimidate you. Respond with SoloSuit.

1. Excessive Amount of Calls

The debt collector's income is influenced by you and other consumers paying their debts. This means that if a debt collector has been assigned to you, they are most likely going to attempt to scare you by calling you constantly. The purpose of this is to overwhelm you so that you get scared and frustrated by their excessive calls. The plan and hope are that you will do anything to get them to stop, especially pay the debt.

This tactic is used to get to you mentally. They hope that you do not know that you can legally ignore them. You do not even need to answer the phone. The only time you must respond is if you have been served with a legal notice to appear in court. Even then, this is a formal “Answer” sent to the court.

If a debt collector is attempting to scare you into paying a debt by calling you incessantly, you can write a “cease and desist” letter. Keep a copy of this because once it is received, they can no longer legally call you. Despite this, they may take other courses of action to collect the debt.

2. Threatening Wage Garnishment

If you decide to allow the debt collector to speak to you, one popular scare tactic is to push you into thinking they have more power than they do. They will try to make you think that if you do not pay your debt immediately, that they have the power to garnish your wages.

Garnishing wages occurs after a judgment is obtained. This is a long process and is not something that will be done quickly. That is why this is considered a popular scare tactic. Debt collectors often exaggerate the truth.

For a debt collector to go into your bank account or take money from your paycheck, you will have needed to go through the entire legal process. They also need to obtain permission from a judge. If there has been no legal action taken against you, then they have no right to garnish your wages.

Protect your wages from debt collectors by responding with SoloSuit.

3. Stating You Have a Deadline

Debt collectors often try to tell you that you have a deadline to pay your debt. They might suggest you will be forced to pay additional fees if you do not pay by a certain date. This is simply not true. There are deadlines by which the debt collector cannot legally bring you to court any longer (based on the Statute of Limitations). If a debt collector tries to tell you otherwise, they are trying to scare you, and they may be violating the FDCPA.

4. Collecting Old Debts

Some debt collectors may attempt to scare you into paying an extremely old debt. This is where the statute of limitations comes into play. Every state has a statute of limitations that make it impossible to sue you for older debt. Most often the statute of limitations runs four to six years but can be anywhere from two to 20 years as well. This is also known as time-barred debt.

It is important to note that if you make a payment on a time-barred debt, you will start the statute of limitations over again. This means that the debt can become eligible for collection again. Debt collectors may commonly try to convince you to pay on a time-barred debt to bring it alive again. This is why it is essential if a debt collector contacts you, to verify the debt.

5. Pushing You to Pay Your Debt to “Improve Your Credit Score”

Although paying off your debt will eventually improve your credit score, it will not change anything for about seven years. What they should be telling you is that it will prevent further damage to your credit score.

6. Stating They “Do Not Need to Prove Your Debt Exists”

Even if you are in debt, it does not mean that you can be harassed by debt collectors. Any debt collector must prove that they have the right to sue you or pursue you for a debt under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

7. Sharing Your Debt With Family and Friends

It is completely illegal to mention your debt to anyone other than your spouse. Under the FDCPA if a debt collector shares your personal financial information publicly, then you can report them.

Make the right affirmative defenses with SoloSuit and win your case.

Understanding The Fair Debt Collection Privacy Act

Calls from a collection agency are never fun. They might use intimidating language, be extremely demanding, and be overall very persistent. Their only goal is to push you to pay the debt that they believe you owe. In some cases, you may not even owe the debt but you might even simply pay the debt to avoid the debt collector.

Laws protect you as a consumer from debt collectors. Credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other kinds of household debt are typically sold to debt collectors. From that point on, the Fair Debt Collection Privacy Act (FDCPA) protects you. This only applies to third-party debt collectors but protects you from harassment and a variety of other unfair practices.

Although debt collectors may use scare tactics in an attempt to make you pay your debt, their scare tactics are not always legal. Always refer to the FDCPA and report a debt collector using unfair scare tactics to retrieve your debt.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

Get Started

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here's a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

The Ultimate 50 State Guide

Guides on how to resolve debt with every debt collector

Are you being sued by a debt collector? We’re making guides on how to resolve debt with each one.

Resolve your debt with your creditor

Some creditors, banks, and lenders have an internal collections department. If they come after you for a debt, Solosuit can still help you respond and resolve the debt. Here’s a list of guides on how to resolve debt with different creditors.

Settle your medical debt

Having a health challenge is stressful, but dealing medical debt on top of it is overwhelming. Here are some resources on how to manage medical debt.

Guides on arbitration

If the thought of going to court stresses you out, you’re not alone. Many Americans who are sued for credit card debt utilize a Motion to Compel Arbitration to push their case out of court and into arbitration.

Below are some resources on how to use an arbitration clause to your advantage and win a debt lawsuit.

Stop calls from debt collectors

Do you keep getting calls from an unknown number, only to realize that it’s a debt collector on the other line? If you’ve been called by any of the following numbers, chances are you have collectors coming after you, and we’ll tell you how to stop them.

Federal debt collection laws can protect you

Knowing your rights makes it easier to stand up for your rights. Below, we’ve compiled all our articles on federal debt collection laws that protect you from unfair practices.

Get debt relief in your state

We’ve created a specialized guide on how to find debt relief in all 50 states, complete with steps to take to find relief, state-specific resources, and more.

Debt collection laws in all 50 states

Debt collection laws vary by state, so we have compiled a guide to each state’s debt collection laws to make it easier for you to stand up for your rights—no matter where you live.

Statute of limitations on debt state guides

Like all debt collection laws, the statute of limitations on debt varies by state. So, we wrote a guide on each state’s statutes. Check it out below.

Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection by State (Best Guide)

Check the status of your court case

Don’t have time to go to your local courthouse to check the status of your case? We’ve created a guide on how to check the status of your case in every state, complete with online search tools and court directories.

How to stop wage garnishment in your state

Forgot to respond to your debt lawsuit? The judge may have ordered a default judgment against you, and with a default judgment, debt collectors can garnish your wages. Here are our guides on how to stop wage garnishment in all 50 states.

How to settle a debt in your state

Debt settlement is one of the most effective ways to resolve a debt and save money. We’ve created a guide on how to settle your debt in all 50 states. Find out how to settle in your state with a simple click and explore other debt settlement resources below.

How to settle with every debt collector

Not sure how to negotiate a debt settlement with a debt collector? We are creating guides to help you know how to start the settlement conversation and increase your chances of coming to an agreement with every debt collector.

Other debt settlement resources

Personal loan and debt relief reviews

We give a factual review of the following debt consolidation, debt settlement, and loan organizations and companies to help you make an informed decision before you take on a debt.

Civil law legal definitions

You can represent yourself in court. Save yourself the time and cost of finding an attorney, and use the following resources to understand legal definitions better and how they may apply to your case.

Get answers to these FAQs on debt collection

How-to debt guides

Learn more with these additional debt resources