Debt collection calls can be bothersome, incessant, and, in some cases, illegal. Collection calls can be made for a variety of reasons, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself, should they become unwanted. In addition to using the 11-word phrase to stop debt collectors, you can also send a cease and desist letter and take legal action. You should always keep a record of all communication with debt collectors, should you need it for future disputes.
Having debt is a stressful situation that can feel overwhelming. It impacts your credit score, which hurts your ability to apply for loans, rent an apartment, and even get a job. You might fear that they can take everything you have to recoup your payment. If a debt collector calls asking about your debt balance, this can only heighten your anxiety and make you more nervous about being pursued.
While you can’t make the debt disappear, you can get debt collectors to stop calling and harassing you with a simple 11-word phrase. Unfortunately, getting creditors does not stop them from trying to collect on the debt. Thankfully, there are also other resources available to you, including working with a credit counselor to create a debt management plan, taking out a debt consolidation loan, and in certain cases, legal action.
What do you say to stop debt collectors?
The 11-word phrase to stop debt collectors is: “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me, immediately.” This phrase will force debt collectors to stop all methods of contact with you.
If you say this phrase over the phone, make sure that you follow up with a letter or email. Should a debt collector continue calling you, this ensures that you have a record showing that you said this phrase.
How do I write a cease and desist letter to a debt collector?
Writing a cease and desist letter is putting the 11-word phrase you used over the phone in writing. Under the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act, if you formally request to no longer be contacted by a debt collector, they must cease contact.
Reasons you may want to send a cease and desist letter include: wrongful harassment by the debt collector, the statute of limitations has expired, and/or failure of the debt collector to verify your debt. You can also send a cease and desist letter if you don’t want to deal with the debt collector directly and would rather go to court. A template of a cease and desist letter is below.
Sample cease and desist letter[Your name] [Your return address] [Date] [Debt collector name] [Debt collector Address]
Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]
Dear [Debt collector name],
I am responding to your contact about a debt you are attempting to collect. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date]. You identified the debt as [any information they gave you about the debt].
On [that date] I said, “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me, immediately.” Please stop all communication with me and with this address about this debt.[If you dispute the debt, include the following:] Record that I dispute having any obligation for this debt. If you forward or return this debt to another company, please indicate to them that it is disputed. If you report it to a credit bureau (or have already done so), also report that the debt is disputed.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Why are debt collectors calling me?
If you miss payments on your bills, they will be sent to a collection agency. Once this happens, debt collectors are legally allowed to call you after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m. in an effort to collect payment on the debt. Some creditors have their own in-house collectors, but others will send your debt to a third-party collection agency. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also launched a private debt collection program in 2016 to collect overdue taxes. This program was mandated by Congress.
Debt collectors may also be calling you to locate someone you know who owes money, but they are only allowed to do this once. However, if this happens, they are also not allowed to reveal that they are collecting debt.
What should I do when debt collectors call me?
Debt collectors are required by law to provide you with certain information the first time they call. They must tell you:
- The name of the creditor
- The amount you owe
- Your ability to dispute the debt
- Your ability to request information on the creditor
If this information is not given to you in that first call, the debt collector must send it to you within five days. You can also request a debt validation letter, which the debt collector will send in writing to show the amount of debt you owe. Once you have received this call, there are steps you can follow to ensure that you retain all of the information provided to you.
Keep a record of all communication with the debt collector
Keep a written record of every time you speak with the debt collector, including who you spoke with, what was said, and what time of day they called. This will help you note if there are any inconsistencies in the information the debt collector is giving you if they are calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or using rude language.
Verify if the debt collector’s information is correct
Ensure that the debt collector has all relevant information on your case and that it is all correct and accurate. Sometimes they may have been given the wrong information, so it’s important that you verify both your contact details and the amount of debt you owe.
Additionally, do not admit that the debt you owe is valid. Admitting so could be used against you in the future.
Do not give out any personal information
While you should verify things like your contact information and the amount of debt you owe with a debt collector, it’s important never to give out any personal details, such as your bank account number or Social Security number.
Check the statute of limitations
A debt that has exceeded the statute of limitations is known as a time-barred debt. A time-barred debt has gotten so old that it cannot be collected. Rules about time-barred debts vary by state, but generally, the statute of limitations runs from three to six years.
While a debt collector can still call and communicate with you regarding a time-barred debt, they legally cannot force you to pay it. If you want to find out how old the debt is, you can ask the collector for the date that the debt was incurred.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The secret to this 11-word phrase lies in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA outlines how debt collectors are supposed to behave in regards to collecting the debt. If a debt collector violates any of these rules, they are subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to contact you at unreasonable times of day, such as late at night and early in the morning. This means they cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Areas of employment
Debt collectors are not allowed to contact you while you’re at work unless you give them permission to do so. They can call your employer to get details such as your phone number and home address, but they can’t contact you directly while you’re there.
Harassment or threats
It’s against the law for debt collectors to harass or threaten you. They are also not allowed to use rude or abusive language or threaten to take you to court.
Contact an attorney
If a debt collector knows that you are being represented by an attorney, they are not allowed to contact you directly. All communication must go through your attorney, who can then pass it along to you.
What to say to dispute a collection?
If you are contacted by a collection agency and don’t think you owe the debt they are claiming you do, you can send a debt dispute letter, also known as a verification letter, to the collection agency. You should do this within 30 days of first being contacted by the debt collector.
A debt dispute letter should detail that you’re responding to the communication you received from the collection agency and that you don’t believe you owe the debt. You can also state that they stop contacting you.
Can you ignore debt collectors?
You can ignore debt collectors, but it’s usually a bad idea to do so. cannot ignore debt collectors. If you owe a debt, and debt collectors are contacting you about it, ignoring them will not make your debt go away. It will also not stop debt collectors from contacting you.
If you ignore or avoid debt collectors, they will use other methods of trying to contact you, including filing a lawsuit against you.
What resources are available to me if debt collectors call?
If you owe money to a debt collection agency and are struggling with how to deal with it, there are ways you can manage your debt so it doesn’t become a bigger issue. Some of this assistance might even be free depending on your income and where you live.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship and struggling to pay your credit card or other unsecured debts, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with your creditors. Debt settlement (or debt relief) service providers operating under FTC regulations specialize in negotiating with creditors on behalf of their clients. Debt settlement companies act as intermediaries between an individual and one or more of their unsecured creditors to obtain a reduction in principal owed.
Credit counselors are available at organizations that can help advise you on managing your money and debt. These organizations are typically nonprofits, and offer free educational materials and workshops.
Credit counselors can also help you get into a debt management program. A debt management program allows you to consolidate your debt (usually from credit cards) into monthly payments, and with a reduced interest rate. You create a payment plan that typically lasts over three to five years, with payments being made to your credit card company.
Debt consolidation loan
A debt consolidation loan is a personal loan you can use to pay off high-interest debt. You can use the loan to do things like pay off the balance on your credit card or car payment. This consolidates your debt, which makes it more manageable.
Taking legal action is another route available to you if you believe the debt you owe is not valid, or if debt collectors won’t stop calling or harassing you. If debt collectors know you’re being represented by an attorney, they have to direct all communication through your attorney, and should not be contacting you directly.
- The 11-word phrase to stop debt collectors is: “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me, immediately.”
- If a debt collector calls, keep a record of all your communication, verify that the debt collector’s information is correct, do not give out any personal information, and check to see if the statute of limitations has been exceeded.
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines rules debt collectors must follow, including not calling at unreasonable hours, not calling while you’re at work, not making threats or harassing you, and not calling you if you’re being represented by an attorney.
- You can send a debt dispute letter, also known as a verification letter, to the debt collection agency that is contacting you within 30 days of their first communication. This serves as your official claim that you do not believe the debt they are claiming you owe is yours.
- Credit counselors, debt management plans, debt consolidation loans, and legal action are all resources available to you should you be contacted with debt collection calls.
View Article Sources
- What Is a Debt Collector and Why Are They Contacting Me? – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- What may happen if I ignore or avoid a debt collector? – CFPB
- Is a Debt Consolidation Loan Right For You? – SuperMoney
- How to Dispute Your Debt with Creditors and Collectors – SuperMoney