It’s no secret that lenders turn over unsettled debts to collection agents, who use a variety of means – decent and indecent – to recover the money you owe to the bank.

Financial woes and burden of expenses may have forced you to go delinquent on the debt, but that does not mean you should take it lying down or let collection agents harass you while you try to arrange a way to repay the dues.

While it is not an easy job to deal with collectors who are unlikely to show any sympathy towards your situation, you must learn to handle the situation tactfully.

Maintain communication

Shutting down all channels of communication reflects poorly on you and shows that you don’t intend to pay back the money, which will only make the collectors more aggressive in their efforts. When the agency senses that you are trying to dodge their calls, they may resort to extreme measures such as turning up at your workplace or calling close relatives to harass you.

Maintaining regular communication will convince the agency about your commitment to settle the dues and may help you buy some time until you can work out a repayment plan.

Don’t give in to scare tactics

Since the ultimate aim of debt collectors is to intimidate borrowers into repaying the money, they are likely to use pressure tactics such as intimidating phone calls, verbal threats, warnings, etc. to achieve the objective. Never let the agency arm-twist you into making a decision, especially when you have restated your commitment to pay. And since most of these threats are illegal, it’s highly unlikely they will follow through on any of them.

However, if they persist, you should not hesitate to file a complaint or explore legal options to keep them at bay. Finally, try to communicate with the agency through letters to keep a record of correspondence, which will serve as evidence in case you are forced to approach the authorities.

[Related: Negotiate your debt repayment plan in 5 steps]

Make a realistic repayment offer

The only way to get the agency off your back is by repaying the dues, but there is always room for negotiation and that’s where you will need to show some tact.

First, find out the total amount you owe and work out how much you can pay back. Then, make a practical repayment proposal, could be monthly installments or a lump sum payment, and convince the agency that it is the best possible offer you can manage in your current financial situation. Also, try to convince the agency to waive any additional fees or some of the interest amount to make it easier for you to settle the dues. Remember to be open about your financial situation and use it to bring the debt amount within the manageable limit.

Focus on settling the debt

You could explore a few options to repay the debt which can include cutting back on monthly expenses, seeking financial assistance from relatives, asking your employer for a short-term interest-free loan or considering a part-time job to make some extra income. Your primary goal should be to repay your outstanding debts as fast as possible and get your life back on track.

Lastly, make sure you never sink down that rabbit hole again

Apart from landing you in the collector’s net, an outstanding debt severely impacts your credit score and reduces your chances of securing any future loans from the bank. Hence, your first move after wriggling out of the rabbit hole should be to clear all your existing debt as soon as possible. You can achieve this by chalking out a budget to track your spending, cutting down on unnecessary expenses, eliminating debt-enabling habits, avoiding unnecessary borrowings, minimizing credit card use and paying all dues on time.

[Related: 5 Steps to Successfully Pay Off Your Debts]