Out of sight, out of mind. An idiom that has stood the test of time. If I choose not to deal with someone or something, it will just go away.

We all know that there are circumstances where this is true. Think back to any of those big “news” items that seemed huge at the time but now only reside in your long-term memory, triggered when you are reminded about it. Remember that dress where some people thought it was blue and black and others thought it was white and gold? Remember Balloon Boy? The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal? All huge news at the time, but lost to the dark corners of your mind and the Internet.

There are many people who treat calls and letters from collection agencies the same way. If you don’t answer the phone or respond to the letter, nothing bad will happen. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen?

One bad thing that could possibly happen is that the amount you owe will continue to go up. In many cases, interest is accruing on the balance that is unpaid and refusing to deal with the situation may lead to a bigger debt down the line.

Sometimes, the answer to that question only shows up the next time you apply for a car loan or a mortgage or a credit card. Or a job. Or if you try to get insurance. If the agency is reporting the unpaid debt to a credit reporting agency, your credit score may take a hit. And everyone from lenders to employers are looking at credit reports these days to see whether an individual is a good risk or a bad risk.

Other times, the answer shows up on your doorstep when you receive a summons to appear in court because you are being sued for the unpaid debt. A lawsuit is the last thing a collector wants to do in attempting to collect on a debt, but, oftentimes, the agency has no other choice if an individual refuses to communicate. Lawsuits lead to judgments, which lead to the ability for your wages to be garnished and funds in your bank account to be seized. All because you couldn’t or wouldn’t be bothered to answer the phone.

We started this post out with an idiom — out of sight, out of mind. And ignoring collection letters and calls may feel like you are dodging a bullet — another idiom. But, at the end of the day, choosing not to interact with a collection agency is likely to leave in you in over your head.