Did You Just Receive a Scary SMS?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Feeling Nervous Because You Just Received A Scary SMS?

It is horrible to receive a scary SMS that threatens that the sheriff is on their way to take your stuff or serve you with papers. So, if you receive such a message what should you do?

Why You Are Getting These Messages

If you are getting such messages then it is likely that you do owe someone money (a credit provider) and they are using their computers or outside collections agents to send you messages. The real reason they are sending you messages is not to “warn” you but rather to get you to pay them money. 

If it is from the credit provider they just want you to make your normal instalment but are getting frustrated that you have missed payments. They will be happy if you contact them and make an arrangement to pay (or head into their local branch and make a payment).

‘They will be happy if you contact them and make an arrangement to pay’

If the debt has been sold or passed on to a collections agent then they want to try and get you to pay as much as possible the first time they speak to you. This is because you are very likely to only make one payment to them (more if they convince you to do so). The collections agent also works on a commission basis so they want to get you to pay as much as possible so they earn more money. SMS from collections agents are often written in a clever way to make you think they are sending the Sherrif of the court to take your stuff or that a court order has already been granted against you. If you read the messages carefully you may see that is not what they are actually saying and they are probably just threatening that this could, may or might happen, maybe.

The bottom line is they send scary messages to get you to contact them and make a payment. 

Not In Debt Review

If you are not in debt review but are experiencing financial distress and receive such a message, then do not immediately panic. You have several options.

The collections agents are sending you these messages to try get you to pay. So, you can contact the number shown and make an arrangement. It is always much better to make such arrangements in writing so you can ask for an email address (or even a physical address) to send correspondence to. If you only have a phone conversation and nothing is written down then the collections agents can later change their mind and not stick to any deals that you make.

‘speak to your local Debt Counsellor and get advice about all your debts’

Another option you have is to go and speak to your local Debt Counsellor and get advice about all your debts (not just that one that you received the SMS about). This is a good idea as often the real problem is that you cannot pay all your credit providers what they are all demanding at the same time. Then you start paying one and not another and problems start to get worse. A Debt Counsellor can look over your budget and all your debts and offer objective advice based on experience and their knowledge of your rights under the National Credit Act.

While In Debt Review

If you are in debt review and just received a scary SMS then you should contact your Debt Counsellor straight away.

Although the message is probably talking about all the things that collections agents just say to get people to pay, the Debt Counsellor should speak to the credit provider (to find out why an outside collections agent is even involved). There may be an error on the credit providers’ side that they can sort out.

Don’t Panic But Don’t Ignore It

If you receive such a message and you feel your heart sink, do not panic.

If you are having financial trouble then it gives you the chance to talk to a professional and to get some good advice or to make a written arrangement with the credit provider. If you are in debt review and you get such a message it does not mean the debt review is not working. After all, the debt review process is done via the courts and is a full legal process. No silly SMS is going to get around the law and the court process.

At the same time, you should let your Debt Counsellor know so that they can help you stop such messages from being sent. It might take a few calls and emails but normally things can be sorted out. The SMS may even let the Debt Counsellor and credit provider know about a problem with the credit providers record keeping which is very important and helpful.

So, don’t panic but let your Debt Counsellor know.