Ten Best Ways to Avoid Debt Collectors
Debt collectors have a lot of resources at their disposal when it comes to tracking you down. Whether they do it themselves or hire a professional to search for you, there is an assortment of reliable records they can use to find you. These are records containing personal information that are maintained in public or commercial files. Most can be accessed free of charge by skilled investigators.
For those who know how to access them, the information contained in these records creates a trail it is easy to follow. Motor vehicle records, utilities records, real estate records, employment records, credit reports and court records (including marriages and divorces) are some examples of the type of files debt collectors may use to find you.
Any time you apply for a credit card, have utilities or the internet turned on, rent an apartment or register a vehicle, odds are you’ll provide your address, telephone number, employment information and possibly your social security number. This information is entered into a database and maintained on file for at least several years, if not indefinitely. Remaining out of reach of debt collectors means being aware of what information these records contain and managing the records that are kept on you.
If you are serious about reducing your chances of being located, there are steps you can take to prevent creditors and collection agencies from finding you. Start by planning ahead to move out of state or offshore and do everything possible to protect your new address. The more steps you take to protect your new location, the more likely you are to avoid being found.
- Do not have your mail forwarded and avoid informing friends and relatives of your new location.
- Contact all memberships you presently have or have had in the past and change your address and telephone numbers to fictitious ones.
- Use a Post Office Box outside of your immediate area if it is necessary to collect mail. Change your P.O. Box regularly.
- Live on a cash-only basis: close all bank accounts and credit cards and do not use ATM cards.
- Have utilities billed to your P.O. Box only, and inform utility companies that you do not reside at the address being serviced. Provide a fictitious or vacant lot physical address for their records.
- Access creditors for your new utility accounts online via public internet service providers and send payment in full before it is due. Pay by money orders purchased outside of your immediate area.
- Do not register any motor vehicles at your new location or obtain a new license. If necessary, drive vehicles registered in someone else’s name.
- Use only pre-paid mobile phones and pre-paid calling cards you do not recharge to place calls. Replace your pre-paid phone often.
- Avoid memberships with any clubs (even online) using your new address or telephone number. Do not get a library card, register to vote or have anything shipped to your new address ever.
- Work for cash-only and change employment frequently.
It is usually a simple or innocent mistake that costs someone their hidden status. Be diligent about maintaining the records that are kept on you. Never assume a few months or even years is enough time to reveal your whereabouts to former friends or new associates.
When all is said and done, keeping yourself in hiding may be more of a hassle than it will be to simply pay off your debt. At the very least, it could buy you a bit of time until you save up enough money to re-emerge and start making payments.