First of all, the best way to protect yourself from being harassed or mistreated by debt collectors is to know and understand your rights as well as the statute of limitations. Just because you are over indebted does not mean, the collectors can push you around. To handle such collectors properly and effectively, you should be well aware of what they can and cannot do.
For one, collectors are only allowed to call at certain times of the day. Moreover, the collector should respect your privacy. They are not allowed to call you at work especially if your employer does not allow it. And they cannot inform anyone else about your debt situation.
In case, you receive continuous calls beyond the limits as set by law, you can file a complaint against them. This does not mean however that you are excused from dealing with the debt. It merely serves as a way for you to keep the debt collectors at bay.
You can also actually make a written request for them to stop calling you. Once the letter is sent, you should, the calls should stop. Furthermore, if a collector contacts you over the phone, he should not make false statements to simply force you to settle the debt. In addition, they should talk to you in a respectful manner and not in a way as if you have committed a crime. It is prohibited for them to use abusive words or make any threats of violence.
Second, after receiving a call from a collector, it is essential that you request for verification. Most of the time, the creditors will contact an agency to handle debt collection in their behalf. However, it is in your best interest to check if the agency indeed has the right to collect payment for your debt.
Third, you have to learn to negotiate. After settling the issue on whether the debt is accurate and the collection agency is rightfully assigned for collection, you should make an attempt to negotiate with the collectors. Start by offering a payment less than what you can actually afford, this shall give you room for adjustment in case the collector tries to deny your offer.
Keep in mind that timing is everything. If you are feeling like the collector is acting firm, unfazed by your attempts for negotiation, then perhaps you can try to make a deal at the time they are more likely to bite into your offer which is usually by the end of the month. After making a deal, make sure that you have everything properly documented. Secure the agreement in writing. Such is important even before you send any form of payment.
Do not act defensively when you receive a call from a collector. Remember, they are only doing their job. If everything goes well, then you can come up with a favorable arrangement. Otherwise, you may consider filing a complaint against the debt collectors that keep harassing you and acting beyond boundaries as set by law.