What Questions Should I Ask Debt Collectors On The Phone?

What Questions Should I Ask Debt Collectors On The Phone?

debt collectorsWhen a debt collector calls you — or you call the debt collector — what should you say to the collector?

It helps if you know some about your rights when dealing with collectors.

But you also want to ask smart legitimate questions to find out what you need to do with this collector.  If you owe it and the collector has the right to collect, then you need to consider paying it.

If you don’t, then find out why the collector is calling you.

And if you have an abusive collector, then you may decide that the best way to stop the abusive collector is to stand up to the collector, regardless of how powerful the collector might seem.

While each situation is different, we believe the following is a smart way to talk to collectors.

Remember your high school English teacher.

Remember how she taught us about some very powerful words that can turned into questions to the debt collectors?

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • How

Almost every sentence you say to the debt collector should have one of these words.

Here are some examples of speaking with debt collectors.

“You owe this money and you have to pay it today.  I’m tired of you not paying this bill.”

Who are you?”

“I’m Bob.  Now you need to pay this.”

“Bob, who do you work for?”

“I work for NCO — are you refusing to pay?”

What debt is this?”

“You know what debt this is — it is an old credit card debt that you didn’t pay.”

Which credit card debt is this?”

“I don’t know — but you know you owe it.”

“Bob, I need to know the details — what information do you have on this debt so I can see if it is mine or if I owe it?”

“I’m going to mark you down as a refusal to pay.”

What does that mean?”

“It means you are refusing to live up to your obligation.”

Why are you saying that — I’m just trying to figure out if I owe this debt or not.”

“I need to know if you are going to pay or not?”

“You say you work for NCO — does NCO own this debt or is it collecting for someone else.  If someone else, who is that?”

Let’s say the collector does give you some information on the debt and then threatens you.

“We are going to have to garnish your wages if you don’t pay this debt today.”

How will you garnish my wages?”

“I’ve already spoken with your human resource department — the garnishment is in place.”

“Who did you speak with?”

“It doesn’t matter — what matters is we are prepared to go forward with wage garnishment.”

When did you speak with someone in my HR department?”

“I don’t have to tell you that — are you going to pay or not?”

Why won’t you tell me who you spoke with or when you spoke with them?”

“Because I don’t have to tell people like you this sort of information.”

Where did you learn that rule?”

“I’m done talking with you.”

Who is your supervisor?”

“You don’t need to know that.”

Why not?”

“We are trained to not get distracted with people like you.”

What do you mean — people like me?”

Here are examples of other questions to ask debt collectors in the appropriate circumstances.

Can you send me proof that I owe this debt?

Why won’t you send me proof?

When can you send me a letter on this?

Who can I speak with if I am not satisfied with the service you are giving me?

What will happen if I don’t pay you?

Have you reported this on my credit report?

How long will it stay on my credit report?

You say you are going to sue me, when are you going to sue me?

When does the deadline expire for me to pay you?

Why won’t you send me a letter?

The idea is to gain information from the debt collectors so you can do a few things.

  • Figure out what the supposed debt is and when you defaulted on it;
  • Figure out who is collecting on it and who they are collecting for;
  • If it is a legitimate debt you owe to this collector, what kind of payment arrangements can you make; and
  • See if this debt collector is trustworthy or is willing to break the laws in collecting the debt.  If the collector is willing to break the laws, then you might think twice before sending the collector any money.

If you live in Alabama and want to talk about any conversations you are have had with any debt collectors.

Or, you can call us at 205-879-2447 or you can contact us through our website.

John Watts

PS — here is a great dispute letter to consider sending any collector that you run across — on your credit reports, one who calls you, or writes you.


  1. Cat says:

    This was very helpful to me, I have read through several pages/posts and while I live in a different state, much of the information is exactly what I needed resource-wise for dealing with Cascade Capital claiming I have a debt they are trying to collect (I don’t). I’m just commenting to say thank you for the great resources and for how helpful you are with providing replies to queries. You seem like a very kind person, and I am heartened to see people like you are still out there, who take the time to give people desperate for answers any relevant information you have. It’s nice to see people who are good at what they do AND a good person. Thank you!

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you so much for the kind words!

      I’m glad the information here has been helpful to you.

      I know you are — just continue to be very careful dealing with Cascade Capital.

      Thank you again for your nice comment — best of success in dealing with Cascade!

      John Watts

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