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Documenting Collector Harassment

In California, you cannot record a conversation without the consent of all parties. Also, debt collectors and companies often maintain shoddy or self-serving records that do not accurately reflect what was said or done to the consumer.

So, how do you document collector harassment or other conduct by a company when the company refuses to allow you to record a conversation? Below are some things to consider:

1 – Take Notes. Write down (or send yourself an email) with information regarding the date and time of the call or discussion, the name of the person with whom you spoke, the method of communication (e.g., by telephone, in-person), how long the conversation lasted, what was said (be specific), the name and telephone number of any witnesses to the conversation. Make copies of any handwritten notes, so that they are not lost.

2 – Get Your Detailed Phone Records. Debt collectors and companies do not always maintain records of phone calls even occurring, yet the consumer knows that they happened. A consumer’s phone records are great tools to show that a conversation occurred, and also that the debt collector/company does not maintain accurate records. For the most part, you can download detailed phone bills online. Download those records whenever you have a call that is important, and highlight the call. Together with notes of the conversation, the phone records should show that there was a call and what was said. Try not to speak with anyone by using a prepaid cellphone, as the records can be more difficult to obtain online.

3 – Send a Letter. There is nothing wrong with sending a letter confirming a conversation. In fact, it is a good thing to do. If you feel you have been harassed, send a letter to the company (and the original creditor) detailing what happened. If the company representative makes a promise to you (e.g., “we will not repossess your car if you make a payment by next Friday”), send a letter confirming the agreement. Be sure to send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. If you send a letter and there is no response, it can be implied that what you say is true, as a company should – and most likely would – dispute anything inaccurate in a written communication from the consumer.

These are just some tips. Feel free to contact us with any questions or issues.

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