We almost all have some amount of debt. Whether it is a mortgage, car loan, student loan, or credit card balance, owing money doesn’t make you a bad person. Even when you get so behind that your creditor sends a debt collector after you, you do not deserve to be abused and intimidated by an unethical debt collector. That is why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)—to protect consumers from unfair and abusive collection tactics.
Legal Steps to Stop Debt Harassment
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from a variety of unethical and intimidating practices, including repeatedly contacting you by phone. If a debt collector contacts you, the FTC recommends talking to them at least once to try to resolve the matter. Even if you think the debt collector is contacting you by mistake, you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road by taking the call and explaining the situation. If, however, you do owe money and can’t repay it, there are steps you can take to stop the debt collector from contacting you. You must first let the collector know in writing that you do not wish to be contacted.
Sending a Letter to a Debt Collector
Once you have written the letter telling the debt collection agency to stop contacting you, take the following steps:
- The letter should be dated with the debt collectors address on it, plus any account numbers you have and the amount owed from the debt collectors letter to you. You simply need to say "please cease and desist all further contact with me".
- Make a copy of the letter to keep as a record.
- Send the letter by certified mail.
- Pay for a “return receipt” so you will have documentation that the collector received the letter.
- Once the collector has received the letter, he may not contact you again.
There are two cases under which a collector may contact you again after receiving your letter. The collector may contact you once to tell you there will be no more contact, or they may contact you to inform you that the creditor plans to take specific action, such as filing a lawsuit. It is important to understand that stopping contact from a debt collector does not mean that you no longer owe the money. The debt is still there and interest and penalties can continue to accumulate, but you will no longer be bothered by the collector.
An Attorney Can Take the Calls
If you decide to hire an attorney to represent you in the matter, the debt collector and creditor will be required to contact the attorney, not you. If you have questions about when you may need a lawyer, contact our office through the form on this page. We will respond promptly.