My phone keeps ringing and ringing with calls from numbers I don’t recognize. I know they’re bill collectors trying to get me to pay some old credit card I used to have. I don’t really feel like dealing with this crap, but is can I get in trouble for not picking up?
NO. There is no penalty for choosing not to answer a phone call from a debt collector. The only communications from your creditors that you can get in trouble for not answering are lawsuits. And lawsuits cannot be served by telephone; they must be served in person or by mail. If you do get served with a lawsuit, you MUST answer it quickly. Read about how here.
But as a general rule, if it is important, it will be in writing. Period. So answering debt collector phone calls is entirely optional.
Personally, I recommend answering the phone call for two reasons: First, it might be a quick way to work out a debt settlement. Some debt collectors genuinely do want to try to work out a deal you can afford. Others are just assholes. The only way to know the difference is to pick up the phone.
Second, talking to a collector is the only way to get useful information, like who they are, where they are located, and what their corporate identity is – in other words, all the information you need in order to sue them for violating the FDCPA. Most FDCPA violations occur during telephone calls. They don’t usually write letters containing obvious legal violations like profanity or bogus threats to come take your furniture. Collection agency callers feel more free to be jerks over the telephone, and that’s when they’re most likely to