How to stop debt collection harassment

Here are three ways to stop harassing phone calls and letters from debt collectors:

Write a cease and desist letter

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) a debt collector must stop contacting you if you write them a letter telling them to do so. Reference the FDCPA in your letter and state that you request that the collector cease all communications with you. Send the letter via certified mail and keep a copy of the letter and mail receipts for your records. This is the easiest way to stop the harassing telephone calls. But in my experience, a cease letter usually just causes the debt collector to either sell or transfer the debt to a different debt collector. Unfortunately, you must now write another cease and desist letter to the new debt collector. Its not unusual for debts to bounce around multiple times, so you might end up writing multiple letters.

Hire an attorney

The FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from communicating with you if they know you are represented by an attorney. Concerned that you can’t afford an attorney? While an attorney does cost money, some consumer attorneys will write a cease and desist letter, handle any incoming collection calls, and negotiate a resolution of your debt for a small fee.  This will relieve you of the burden of having to deal with harassing phone calls and letters and let you focus on the more important things in your life.

Sue the debt collector under the FDCPA

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you have the right to sue the debt collector and recover damages. You are entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages, actual damages, and attorneys fees. Most consumer lawyers will accept a FDCPA case on a contingency fee arrangement. This usually means you will not have to pay any attorney fees unless your case is successful. Some of the more common debt collection practices prohibited by the FDCPA are:

  • informing third parties that you owe a debt;
  • contacting you at inconvenient times or contacting you at work after you’ve told the debt collector not to;
  • threatening you with violence;
  • using abusive or profane language;
  • threatening to take legal action when the debt collector has no intent to do so;
  • falsely implying that you committed a crime by not paying the debt.