Calls from debt collectors got you down? If you’re in a financial bind and can’t afford to negotiate settlements to take care of the debts you owe, you may be tempted to change your number so they can think you disappeared off the face of the Earth. A better option: draft up a cease and desist letter to bring the calls and letters to a halt.
Keep reading to learn more about how they work, potential drawbacks you should be aware of, and how to draft up your own cease and desist letter to send to debt collectors.
How Do Cease and Desist Letters Work?
When you’re fed up with debt collectors and no longer want to hear from them, you can send over a cease and desist letter. It’s a formal request that requires them to stop reaching out regarding the debt you allegedly owe.
An important note: cease and desist letters only work with third-party debt collectors. If the original creditor has an in-house team that makes calls and sending out letters in an attempt to collect on the debt, a cease and desist letter won’t do anything to impede their efforts.
Are Cease and Desist Letters Effective?
While cease and desist letters are an effective remedy to the frustration, anger, and guilt caused by constant calls and letters from debt collectors, they do come with drawbacks that you should also consider.
Benefits of Cease and Desist Letters
- Could halt collection efforts forever: If the debt is minimal or the collection agency feels the costs of collecting on the debt will outweigh the benefits, they may decide to move on. In this case, the debt will remain on your credit report until the reporting timeline lapses, but they will no longer attempt to contact you.
- Peace of mind: Do you toss and turn at night thinking about debt? Or maybe you’re stressed out throughout the day and the constant calls and letters from debt collectors make it difficult to function like a normal person and get through the day? Requesting that all forms of communication be stopped through a cease and desist letter could give you the peace of mind needed to focus on what you need to accomplish. While it’s a risky move, it beats having anxiety attacks and restless nights.
Drawbacks of Cease and Desist Letters
- Could accelerate collection efforts: As mentioned earlier, receiving a cease and desist letter could cause the debt collector to abandon the debt and move on. But there are no guarantees that they won’t sell it off to another debt collector. In fact, they can do so without violating the law, and this could mean even firmore calls and letters for you. (This also means you’ll have to send out a new cease and desist letter to the new collection agency to make the calls and letters stop). On the other hand, the debt collector could decide that it’s a worthwhile investment to pursue a lawsuit against you to collect what’s owed. This could result in a major financial blow to your wallet as you could be forced to pay through wage garnishments.
- More damage to your credit report: Accelerated collection efforts also have serious implications for your credit report. If the debt is sold to another collection agency, you’ll receive another negative mark on your credit report, which dings your credit score once again. And if the debt collector sues you in the court of law and a judgment is issued, you’ll also incur more damage to your credit report and score.
Writing a Cease and Desist Letter
Are you ready to draft up a cease and desist letter to stop the constant calls and letters once and for all? Be sure to include the following components:
- Your name and address
- The debt collector’s name and address
- Account number associated with the debt (provided by the debt collector)
- A formal request to cease all contact with you, per the FDCPA
- Your next course of action if the contact doesn’t stop
When drafting up the letter, use language that is objective but professional. And refrain from discussing whether or not you owe the debt. The last thing you want to do is admit that you owe the entire balance or even a portion of it. Your goal is to make the debt collector stop contacting you, which can be accomplished by this letter is drafted correctly.
The letter should be sent to the debt collector via certified mail with a return receipt so you’ll know when it arrived at the collection agency’s office. Also, be sure to send a copy of the letter and keep the originals for your records.
What Happens When You Send a Cease and Desist Letter?
Once the collection agency is in receipt of your letter, they are only permitted to contact you a final time notifying you of their next course of action. Depending on the type of debt and the amount owed, they could choose to step up their collection efforts by suing you in the court of law. Or they may choose to ignore the debt altogether.
Either way, you should no longer hear from them. And if you do, the debt collector could be in direct violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter
(Debt collector’s name)
(Debt collector’s address)
Re: (Account number)
Dear (Debt collector’s name):
Per my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), I hereby request that you cease all communication with me, my relatives, or friends in relation to this or any other alleged debts you claim I owe.
If you fail to acquiesce to this request and continue to initiate contact to collect on the alleged debt, I will proceed with filing a formal complaint to the (insert your state of residence) Attorney General’s office. I will also submit a grievance to the Federal Trade Commission.
In addition, I will seek civil and criminal damages in exchange for your violation of my rights under the FDCPA.
Tips to Deal With Debt Collectors
Has a debt collector has been breathing down your back and using ridiculous tactics to get your attention? You should know that you have rights that they could be in direct violation of. Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from:
- Contacting you before 8 am or 9 pm unless you explicitly give them permission to do so
- Calling you at work if you’ve asked them to refrain from doing so
- Divulging any details related to the debt with anyone you know (outside of your spouse)
- Using harassing or deceptive language or tactics when contacting you
Violations of the FDCPA should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the state attorney general’s office in your state of residence. You can also file a lawsuit again the debt collector in the state or federal court of law within a year of the violation, notes FTC.gov.