One of the most critically important things to do when you are speaking with a debt collector is to take detailed notes. The more detail that you can provide about the conversations, the more credibility and believability that you will have if you are involved in a lawsuit against the collector.
And before you even get to a lawsuit, the more knowledge you have of your conversations, the more intelligently and persuasively you can speak with the debt collectors. Debt collectors are notorious for putting false information in their notes in order to try to gain some type of moral advantage over you by convincing you that you broke your promise. Of course, this is ironic that they would lie in order to use your sense of honor and honesty against you but that is a subject for a different day.
When a debt collector says “this is what you discussed with us last week” and it is not accurate, you can refer to your notes and with great accuracy tell the debt collector exactly what was discussed. Quite often promises are made or options given in one conversation and then when you speak with the same collector or a different collector at the same collection agency, they will deny those promises and options.
But not only does it help in trying to work matters out with the debt collector, if you are involved in litigation, it is incredibly helpful to have detailed notes. This will help your lawyer to understand exactly what happened.
This is important because the more your lawyer understands about what happened, the better the complaint can be, which is the beginning point of the lawsuit.
Not only will the complaint be better, but your lawyer will be able to better understand the case so that your lawyer can begin to form the themes and theories and uncover the story of the case to explain why the debt collectors did what they did to you.
Let me give you a couple of examples of notes as I think this might be helpful to you.
First, here is an example of a note which is only helpful in the sense of establishing a phone conversation occurred. Sometimes this is all that is needed but oftentimes this is lacking. “Collector NRS called 7 27 11 at 4:23 p.m. and was rude.”
While this is good in that it establishes the date and time and the collector that called, simply saying the collector is rude does not help you remember how the collector was rude. You can be certain that the debt collector’s notes will not reveal anything about being rude to you.
A more helpful version of this note is as follows: “Collector Pioneer Credit called 7 27 11 at 4:23 p.m. and was rude by calling me an inbred redneck. The debt collector’s name was Bob and he refused to give me his last name. When I told him I did not appreciate him saying that, he laughed and said if the shoe fits you gotta wear it. I hung up and was very upset over this call and skipped dinner.”
This version of the note provides more detail so we can see how the debt collector was rude. We also are starting to see some of the effects of the debt collection call.
A final example will show this in more detail. “Collector LERS called 7 27 11 at 4:23 p.m. and was rude by calling me an inbred redneck. The debt collector’s name was Bob and he refused to give me his last name. When I told him I did not appreciate him saying that, he laughed and said if the shoe fits you gotta wear it. I hung up and was very upset over this call and skipped dinner. I skipped dinner because I was so upset that I felt nauseated. I did not want anything to eat and I kept replaying the conversation in my mind. My wife asked me what was wrong and I said it’s that collector being ugly to me again.” We see in this final example that there is even more detail provided.
Now if you have a 15 minute phone call, you may have two pages of notes.
Some people wonder if it is better to record the conversations rather than taking notes. If we have recorded conversations those can be very helpful although unless you go back and listen to them you will not know the details of your previous conversations when you’re talking to the debt collectors. The other aspect of recording phone calls is that it can be illegal in certain situations and you are taking a chance by recording a call unless both parties agree at the beginning of the call that each other can record it. The final aspect of recording calls is to make sure that you are doing it right. Test it out so that you don’t think that you have calls recorded but then end up having no call recorded at all.
The easiest way to take detailed notes is to answer the phone when you’re in a position to make notes or you can call the collector when you’re in a position to make notes. Hold the phone with one hand and write with the other. Even better, use a hands free device and then you can have both hands free to take notes. You can take the notes in a handwritten form or on the computer or even on your smart phone but, however you do it, do it in a way that you can take notes in the most accurate possible manner.
We hope this has been helpful to you and if you live in Alabama and have any questions please feel free to call us at 205 879 2447 or contact us through our web site. If you live outside of Alabama we suggest you speak with a lawyer who is licensed to practice in your state. A good starting place for this is www.naca.net and click on the “Find Attorney” tab.