Debt collectors are infamous for their sneaky and sometimes downright unethical collection tactics. One trick lurking up the sleeves of every major collection agency is a sense of urgency.
Look at your most recent collection letter. Odds are you'll see phrases such as "This offer expires in 10 days!" "Important! Call today!" "this issue must be settled immediately lest we seek further action." and other such drivel indicating that if you don't get off your tush and pay up this very instant horrible things will happen.
The sense of urgency debt collectors create serves as a psychological tool. Urgency creates anxiety and instills a sense of fear in consumers that if they don't follow the instructions they're given, they will somehow suffer. The truth of the matter is that collection agencies have very little power to force you to pay. If your income comes from exempt sources, such as Social Security and you don't own property, you're judgment proof and safe from a debt collection lawsuit. And the "time limits" that collectors impose mean absolutely nothing.
For example, if you receive a collection notice giving you 10 days to pay the collection agency's settlement offer and you agree to the offer on the 11th day, what do you think will happen? They may try a song and dance to get you to pay the full amount, but once a collection agency makes a settlement offer, that offer is always on the table. The same can be said of the "pay within 15 days or risk further action" letters. What is the "further action"? Usually nothing.
The next time you get a collection notice in the mail that gives you a limited amount of time to arrange payments, don't let the sense of urgency the letter creates cripple you with fear and anxiety. Remember, unless the collection agency sues you, they get nothing if you don't pay it voluntarily. You hold the upper hand.