Debt collectors and companies often maintain shoddy or self-serving records that do not accurately reflect what was said or done to the consumer. Consumers need to be pro-active and take affirmative steps to document collector harassment. Below are some things to consider:
Take notes of all communications. 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.
Save all telephone messages. If a collector leaves a voicemail, save it. Save all of them. Most voicemails can be transferred to computer files nowadays. If not, transfer them to micro-cassette. Always include the date and time of the call in your recording.
Save all letters and the envelopes in which they were sent. If a collector sends you a letter, always save the letter and the envelope in which it came. Many collectors commit violations of the fair debt collection laws in their written communications to consumers. An envelope also can be a key piece of evidence to establish an FDCPA violation.
Get copies of your 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.
Send letters to the collector and original creditor. 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. 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.