How Do I Stop the Collection Calls If I Am Unemployed and I Can't Pay My Bills?

Put a stop to harassing collection calls while unemployed.
Put a stop to harassing collection calls while unemployed. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Not all debtors faced with collection accounts simply refuse to pay their bills. Some consumers cannot afford to satisfy their debts due to financial circumstances beyond their control. While being unemployed may leave you incapable of paying bills that you owe, it doesn’t stop collection calls from creditors insisting that you make immediate payments. These calls are not only stressful, but also embarrassing for individuals who genuinely want to pay off their debts but do not possess the means of doing so. If you find yourself unemployed, you may stop calls from debt collectors while you search for a new job.

Call the collection agency and explain your situation. Ask for a reprieve from the collection calls while you search for new employment. Some collectors will grant you a temporary break from collection activity if you currently lack the means to pay but demonstrate the willingness to meet your obligations after finding employment.

Negotiate with the collection agency for a debt settlement if you cannot pay the debt in full but have the means to pay a portion of the debt. Settling your debt absolves your liability to the collection agency and eliminates further collection calls.

Write a letter to the collection agency explaining that you do not wish to receive any further collection calls. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents collection companies from continuing to contact debtors who request that the company cease its communication efforts.

Include in your letter that you are unemployed and cannot afford payments. The only way a collection agency may legally contact you again after receiving your letter is if the company files a lawsuit against you. Collectors may not garnish or seize unemployment benefits. Letting the collector know about your unemployment reduces the chance that it will file a lawsuit in response to your request that it stop calling you.

Mail the letter to the collector and request a return receipt. Keep the signature card proving that the company received your letter. In the event the collection agency continues calling, you may sue the collector for violating the FDCPA and use the signature card as proof that the company received your letter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Include in your letter the stipulation that the collector may continue its collection activity via mail. By giving the collection agency a method by which it may contact you about the debt, it is less likely to sue you upon receiving your letter.
  • If your payments to a creditor are late, you do not have the right to force the creditor to stop calling you. The FDCPA applies only to third-party debt collectors.

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