In debt collection, there’s a thin line between normal operations and harassment. In light of this, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created under federal law to provide limitations on what debt collectors can do when attempting to collect a debt.
In general, stopping debt collectors from calling you is a straightforward process. The surest way is to send a cease and desist letter demanding that the debt collector stop their pattern of harassment and abuse.
This article will cover how to stop a bill collector from calling, what qualifies as abusive practice, and how to send a cease and desist debt collection letter.
When can debt collectors call you?
How many times is a debt collector allowed to call? When does debt collection step over the line and become abusive? A debt collector is deemed to have violated FDCPA if:
- Over the course of seven consecutive days, you receive calls more than seven times.
- After having had a telephone conversation about the debt, you receive another call during the next seven consecutive days.
The FDCPA also prohibits contact from a debt collector before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They also cannot call you at an unusual time or place, or at a time or place you’ve told them is inconvenient to you.
What are abusive and deceptive debt collection practices?
Abusive and deceptive debt collection practices are defined in the FDCPA as unduly harassing, irritating, or stressful. The law recognizes that these contribute to personal bankruptcies, marital instability, job loss, and the invasion of individual privacy, and prohibits them.
The FDCPA protects you, your family, and your friends from abusive and deceptive debt collection tactics such as:
- Calling you at unreasonable hours: before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Contacting you at work after you’ve told them calls are not allowed
- Getting ahold of you directly, even though an attorney is representing you
- Discussing your debt with anyone besides you, your spouse, or your attorney
- Using profane language to intimidate you
- Threatening to arrest you or illegally take your property
- Garnishing your federal benefits like Social Security, Veteran, or Military Benefits
- Using texts, emails, or other electronic communications to repeatedly harass you
How To Get Debt Collectors To Stop Calling
Learning how to get debt collectors to stop calling may seem like a daunting task. You might simply tell the collectors that you prefer to communicate with them in writing. After that, the debt collector is required to send letters to contact you.
Cease and Desist Letter
Knowing how to stop debt collectors from calling you is critical to easing undue stress and putting an end to deceitful, threatening, or embarrassing phone calls.
The most certain way to stop collectors from making harassing phone calls is to send a cease and desist debt collection letter. This letter will immediately put a stop to irritating calls from debt collectors. The letter should contain the date of reported incidents and details of the repeated abuse you have experienced. If you are forced to file a complaint against a debt collector, these details are evidence in favor of your lawsuit.
While more formal than a basic no contact letter, a cease and desist letter is a powerful way to stop debt collectors from calling you. The letter should clearly state that the debt collector should cease and desist further communication with you. All of these elements are included in our document builder.
Debt Not Owed
You can also stop harassing calls from debt collectors by proving that the debt is not yours. Debt collectors must stop calling if they cannot satisfactorily prove that you actually owe the debt. You generally have 30 days after a collector contacts you to request that information.
After Sending a Cease and Desist Debt Collection Letter
If, within 15 days of receiving a cease and desist debt collection letter, the debt collection agency continues to contact you, you have the option of taking legal action against them. You may submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, or report the collector to the Federal Trade Commission.
Note that even after a cease and desist letter is sent, debt collectors can still contact you either to notify you that they are ending communication or that they may be taking legal action against you to collect the debt.
Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors
- Keep accurate records. Carefully document the dates and times any unlawful communication took place.
- Detail the harassment. Write down exactly the types of abusive and deceptive debt collection practices you continue to experience. This can help you in future claims against the debt collector.
- Document any FDCPA violation. If continued contact is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you sue under the FDCPA and win, the debt collector must generally pay your attorney’s fees, and may also have to pay you monetary damages. Failure to stop may also be cause for punitive damages.
- Note your original creditor. Note that a cease and desist letter and the protective rules created by the FDCPA only apply to debt collection agencies and not to the original creditor.
- Don’t ignore creditors. You may not want to completely ignore calls as that doesn’t keep you abreast of what is happening with the debt and certainly doesn’t prevent collectors from taking legal action against you.
- Don’t admit anything. Be aware that if you make a token payment, make promises to pay, or acknowledge the debt is valid, you might revive an expired statute of limitations.