Dealing with anxiety about debt collector letters
We’re all about helping people in debt and have spent the last four years listening to how people really feel when they’re being bombarded by calls, texts and letters from debt collectors.
ey worries are one of the biggest contributors to mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression. But it is impossible to find real practical advice from people who really understand how you’re feeling. We’re going to change that.
The First Step is Easier Than You Think!
You can find a way of managing letters which actually works for you. But the key is to be realistic about how you feel and what you can do on any given day. Remember – there is no pressure to get on top of things here, now and today.
What follows is our advice about how to manage anxiety when debt collectors are writing to you – and most importantly, how not to blame yourself if you don’t feel up to opening the post today.
We’re so often told “don’t bury your head in the sand” and “don’t ignore the problem”, as if we should believe that the answer is that simple. This advice is definitely not written by anyone who has ever had money problems or suffered from anxiety!
Because when you are paralysed by anxiety, this is much easier said than done. If it were that simple, wouldn’t we all just ‘snap out of it’ and get on with circulating a budget to our creditors?!
We know that the last thing you want to think about is that pile of post you haven’t opened or the box of letters which you have promised you will go through when you’re having a better day.
As you probably know by now, there is no magic solution and until you get some control back then that ‘better day’ isn’t likely to come. The pile of unopened letters will just keep building up – and you should not feel bad about it.
A much better idea…
We’ve got some better advice for you – move on! Start today as day one, ignore anything you have already received, but make a note of any letters you receive from now on or at least as many as you feel able to. This is our advice to help you to deal with letters from debt collectors…
Letters from debt collectors should not be scary, but they are, right? This is probably nothing to do with what they say (particularly if you haven’t opened them), but more to do with how you feel about debt.
If you were able to open some of those letters and really read what they are saying, we bet you would see that they’re not so scary after all. And then debt might start to feel a little bit more manageable too.
Think of it like this: the FCA has very strict rules about what debt collection letters can threaten. In most instances, this boils down to threats about making phone calls or writing more letters. When you’re ready, read the letter carefully…Now, what is it really saying? Do not jump to conclusions and remember that you will be projecting your own anxiety onto their words.
Debt collectors cannot take you to court overnight and they cannot take any of your possessions without a court order. In fact, debt collector rights are specific and they must abide by the rules in place. And even then, they can only take certain non-essential items and only in very specific circumstances. For instance, they cannot take a car, a pet or anything which you and your family need to live, including to get to work or school.
Be Kind to Yourself
So – what are you afraid of? The answer is probably still ;everything’, so be kind to yourself! Take each day as it comes and do as much as you can. If you’re not having a good day when you receive a piece of post, decide whether you feel able to open it. If you can’t, then don’t, and don’t feel bad about it!
Do be wary of building up big piles of unopened post. These are likely only going to add to your anxiety. So, decide whether you are ever going to feel able to open it. If not, then make the decision to get rid of the letter and start again tomorrow.
Make a List
Why not write yourself a list of questions to answer when you receive a piece of post? This should include who is writing to you, what their reference is and what they say you owe. If the debt has been passed to a debt collector, you should also make a note of the name of the company and who they are working for.
Most of this information will be written at the top of the letter, often in a box on the right-hand side. If you are feeling at all nervous, make a note of this information and nothing else – you don’t even need to read whatever these companies are threatening you with this week.
Most companies send automated letters every week or so. That means that if you follow this method, in just a few weeks you will have a complete and detailed list about every company that thinks you owe them money.
You don’t need to have a plan – some of the world’s most successful people never did! But the cliché is true, knowledge is power, and now you have all of the information to get back in control whenever you are ready.
The next step might be to get some help and advice from a professional, or you may feel able to speak to your creditors directly.