Having AAA collections constantly calling you can be beyond frustrating. The endless phone calls seem relentless, even harassing at times. It leaves you feeling powerless, stressed, and overwhelmed. Where do you even start to make it stop?
This guide will provide you with helpful tips and resources to finally beat AAA collections and reclaim control over the situation. We’ll look at practical strategies you can use right now, give guidance on your legal rights, and explain how to report any illegal behavior. With the right approach, you can get AAA off your back for good.
Understand Your Rights Under the FDCPA The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits predatory behavior from collection agencies like AAA. It gives you certain protections and rights as a consumer. Some key points to understand:
- Debt collectors can’t call you before 8am or after 9pm in your time zone without permission. This includes texts and emails too.
- Collectors are limited to calling you 7 times per week about a specific debt. Any more is harassment.
- Threats of violence, use of obscene language, continuously calling after requesting no further contact, and making false statements about the debt are all illegal.
- Debt collectors must send you a written “validation notice” within 5 days of first contacting you. This validates the debt and provides details like the amount owed and creditor name.
- Within 30 days of receiving the validation notice, you can send a letter disputing the validity of the debt. Collections must then cease until it’s verified.
- You have the right to request that AAA only contacts you by mail, not phone. They have to honor this.
Simply knowing your rights puts power back in your hands when dealing with predatory agencies like AAA. Don’t hesitate to remind them of the FDCPA if needed! For a full overview, visit the FTC’s website here.
Record All Communication Make sure to record any conversations and voicemails from AAA collections. This serves as concrete evidence if they violate the FDCPA.
Inform AAA that you are recording at the start of any phone call. If legal in your state, use a call recording app like TapeACall Pro or Google Voice to easily capture all discussions.
For voicemails, don’t delete them. Save any aggressive, harassing, or threatening messages in case you need to report AAA later. The recordings will help prove your claims.
Sending a Cease and Desist Letter A cease and desist letter is a formal way to request that all contact from the debt collector stop immediately. Sending this type of letter invokes your rights under the FDCPA.
The letter should be short, to the point, and sent via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Include details like:
- Your full name, address, and account number with AAA.
- A statement that you are formally requesting no further communication by any means per the FDCPA.
- A request that the agency only contact you by mail to validate the debt, if at all.
- A request for the collector’s mailing address to send future correspondence.
- Your signature and date.
Be sure to keep a copy for your records. If AAA violates the cease and desist, you now have written proof to hold them accountable. A sample letter template can be found on the FTC’s website here.
Blocking Phone Numbers Blocking AAA’s phone numbers provides some instant relief from the constant calls. You can easily block both known and private/unknown numbers on your smartphone or through your phone carrier.
On an iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Call Silencing and Blocked Contacts > Add New. Android users can go to Phone > Settings > Block numbers. Add each AAA number to never ring through again.
For a carrier-level block, call your phone company’s customer service line and request any numbers be blocked permanently. This prevents calls from coming through on any device on your account. Just be aware AAA may simply start using new numbers to get around it.
Respond with a Debt Validation Letter Within 30 days of receiving the debt validation notice, send AAA collections a letter disputing the validity of the debt. This requires them to cease all collection activities until providing proof.
The letter doesn’t need to be fancy. Simply state you do not recognize the debt, and request documentation like:
- A complete accounting of the debt owed including the original creditor.
- Your last billing statement showing the amount was due.
- The original credit application with your signature.
- Validation the debt hasn’t surpassed the statute of limitations.
AAA now bears the burden of proof. If they can’t validate the debt, by law they must stop all collection efforts and notify the credit bureaus to remove any negative entries. For additional protection, send this letter via certified mail and keep a copy for your records.
Negotiating a Settlement If you determine the debt is in fact valid, negotiating a settlement could be a smart financial decision. This involves offering AAA less than the full amount owed in exchange for considering the debt paid in full.
First decide what you can realistically afford to pay as a lump sum. Often companies will accept 20-50% of the balance owed. In your settlement offer letter, lay out a firm counter-offer and payment timeline that works for your budget. Send via certified mail and follow up if needed.
Get any mutually agreed upon arrangement in writing before sending payment. Be sure the document states your payment satisfies the debt in full. Otherwise, AAA could continue harassing you for the rest.
Prioritizing Essential Expenses
If paying off the AAA debt isn’t feasible right now, don’t stress. Focus on essential living expenses first and maintaining good standing accounts that might get sent to collections later.
Pay necessary bills like rent, utilities, car loans, and minimum credit card payments before putting anything towards AAA. Handling those first protects your credit score and ability to meet basic needs. If money is extremely tight, contact companies directly to request reduced or deferred payments.
Once you’re managing essentials, start setting aside small amounts monthly in a “debt fund” for later settlements. This gives you the power to make settlement offers on your own timeline. Don’t let AAA bully you into paying more than you can afford.
Reporting FDCPA Violations If AAA Collections repeatedly violates the FDCPA in their pursuit of your debt, you have every right to report them. Their predatory practices are illegal.
You can file complaints with both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FTC online. Simply search “submit a complaint about a debt collector” on either website and provide details of the harassment, dates, etc.
Submitting reports creates a formal record of AAA’s activities. Both agencies can then take action and hold violators fully accountable under federal law. You may also consult a consumer protection attorney about filing an individual FDCPA lawsuit against the company for damages.
What to Say to Collections Calling You When AAA does get through on the phone, avoid engaging too much with pushy representatives. Disclosures you make can actually reset debt timelines and eliminate your leverage.
Follow these tips:
- Only verify your name, date of birth, and mailing address – nothing more.
- Decline to discuss your finances or ability to pay at all. Say “I cannot discuss my finances with you.”
- If the call seems illegal or abusive, state “I do not wish to speak with you anymore” and hang up immediately.
- Reiterate any request to only be contacted by physical mail.
The less info you provide, the better. AAA may try high pressure tactics to get more out of you, but stand firm. Protect yourself and your rights.
Consulting a Lawyer For professional legal guidance, consider scheduling a consultation with a consumer protection attorney. Laws vary by state, so they can best advise you on the debt collection laws where you live and if AAA violated any statutes.
An attorney may recommend sending additional cease and desist notices, gather evidence of FDCPA violations to include in complaints, or even take legal action in court on your behalf. Their expertise can be invaluable in finally stopping AAA’s harassment for good.
Finding Relief Through Bankruptcy Filing for bankruptcy causes an automatic stay, legally requiring all collections activity to completely stop. The harassing calls from AAA end on day one.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy fully discharges eligible debt like credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and more. Collections agencies can no longer pursue it. Chapter 13 repayment plans also halt creditors and often lower total amounts owed through structured payments.
While bankruptcy damages credit initially, it may be the fastest and most effective path to restart your financial life if AAA has become unmanageable. Meet with a bankruptcy attorney to review your unique situation.