How do I respond to a debt collector?

Almost every day, clients ask us: How do I respond to a debt collector?

First of all, every debt collection case is different and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Further, it is usually best to arrange an attorney to respond to a debt collector on your behalf.

If you do handle the matter yourself, start by thinking about your goals.

Some people want to negotiate a discount or payment plan, while others want to fight to dismiss the debt. Other people are most interested in removing a debt from credit report records.

By prioritizing your goals, you can focus on achieving what is most important.

Need help prioritizing? Call us for a free consultation. If you ignore a debt collector, your case can get much worse.

Once you have set out reasonable goals, take charge and ask the debt collector to explain the circumstances under which your desired relief will be approved. Take it slow. Hang up and think about how to qualify for the result you are seeking. Call the collection agency back when you are prepared for the next round of discussion.


We recommend you avoid responding to a debt collector in the following ways:

  1. “My employer reduced my hours so I am making less money”, or
  2. “I have depleted half of my life savings in the past 12 months”

If your goal is to obtain affordable debt settlement, the collection agency may require information regarding your financial hardship. Don’t respond to a debt collector by disclosing information pertaining to your assets. Statements like these may come back to haunt you.

By disclosing the fact that you are employed (even though with reduced work hours), the debt collector knows you have an income stream and may try to place you on a monthly payment plan to pay the entire debt in full over time, possibly with interest. In these circumstances, you would forego a possible settlement providing for a reduction of the total debt due.

By disclosing the fact you have savings (even though it has been depleted), the debt collector knows you have the ability to make a lump sum down-payment toward a settlement.

Further, if the settlement falls through and the debt collector takes the matter to court, any judgment entered against you could be enforced by garnishing the wages or bank account you tell the debt collector about.

Even worse, by disclosing to a debt collector, the collection agency may be more likely to proceed against you in court since they know there are assets available to seize with a judgment.

Another statement to avoid saying to a debt collector is:

  1. “I know I owe the money, but I fell on hard times.”

If you admit to a debt collector that you owe the full account balance, it will be more difficult to defend yourself if the case goes to court.

NYC Lawyer Responds to Debt Collectors

Responding to a debt collector on your own opens the possibility of saying something that may harm your case. This can make it more difficult for an attorney to respond to debt collectors in a way that achieves your goals.

Debt collector defense and debt collector settlement negotiations are fluid situations. When the matter is monitored by an experienced debt defense lawyer, it is likely the lawyer will pick up on a variety of details that improve the final outcome of the case.

Do you need to answer a debt collector lawsuit? Call us asap for a free lawsuit review.