Stop Debt Collectors

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Stop Debt Collectors

By: Omar M. Omar

Can you stop debt collectors ? ...You better know you can

You can stop debt collectors under the law provided by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a "debtor."

If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your accounts, you may be contacted by a "debt collector." You should know that in either situation, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not erase any legitimate debt you owe.

What debts are covered?

Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts.

Who is a debt collector?

A debt collector is any person who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.

How may a debt collector contact you?

A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.

Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?

You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.

May a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt?

If you have an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.

What must the debt collector tell you about the debt?

Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?

A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.

What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?

Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.

For example, debt collectors may not:

use threats of violence or harm;

publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);

use obscene or profane language; or

repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

False statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
  • misrepresent the amount of your debt;
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.

Debt collectors also may not state that:

  • you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
  • they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or

actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.

Debt collectors may not:

  • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;
  • send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
  • use a false name.

Unfair practices.

Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:

  • collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge;
  • deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
  • use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
  • take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; or
  • contact you by postcard.

What control do you have over payment of debts?

If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.

What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?

You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney's fees also can be recovered. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

Where can you report a debt collector for an alleged violation?

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws, and your Attorney General's office can help you determine your rights.

About The Author


Omar M. Omar is the owner of The website is dedicated to provide credit consumers with information about their credit right and how to dispute inaccurate information on their credit report. Omar M. Omar is also the author Of "The Credit Repair Bible" book.

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, in your Newsletter, on your website, or in your E-Book, as long as the author's Resource Box is included with the article.


Alondre 05.11.2010. 18:51

Can the Military temporarily stop debt collectors' while a new recruit is in basic training? If so how? You're fresh out of college with debt collectors on your heels and you decide after job hunting fails. and you're successful at joining the Army Reserve. can the military temporarily stop debt collectors from pursuing legal action while your in basic training? If so how? Is there some where or something a new recruit can sign up to recieve help until military funds can help?


Admin 05.11.2010. 18:51

Actually, it's more likely that the military will tell you to pay your debts. The military frowns on not taking care of your obligations.

The fastest way a collector can get paid is to contact a servicepersons commanding officer about the unpaid debt. Those kind of things get written up in the servicepersons record and can negatively impact future promotions.


April W 12.04.2012. 15:20

Laws to stop debt collector from calling? I need to know if there is a way to communicate with lawmakers or the government to come up with a bill to stop debt collectors from calling and demanding money from unemployed peole who are struggling.

April W

Kulawend 04.03.2010. 22:45

How can I stop debt collectors from calling me? My current phone number was apparently previously owned by a person who had large amounts of debt. This person must have changed their number, and now it is mine and debt collectors are calling 24/7. What can I do to stop them?


Admin 04.03.2010. 22:45

Same thing happened to me.

Federal Trade Commission- File a complaint @ 1-877-382-4357
Federal Communications Commission - Complaints @ or 1-888-225-5322

Also contact your local Better Business Bureau and file a complaint as well.

In the meantime, use this as your reply to their calls.

"You have mistaken me for someone else. I have told you not to call my phone number and I have made a complaint against you and your company for harassment with the FTC, FCC and Better Business Bureau."

Every time they call, even if they hang up on you or won't give a name, write down what time and date they called and any other info you can get. These agencies will want that information as the FTC and FCC can impose fines against companies that break rules concerning conduct with consumers.

The company that was calling me looking for some woman who had previously had my phone number was fined. The reason was I was able to show proof of their rudeness with a taped conversation of an incoming call they made to my cellphone. (I set my phone to record all incoming calls).


Aaron 03.08.2010. 22:21

How do you put a stop to debt collector calls? My bf and I just got our new phone number for our home and we've had it for 3 days and there have been 5 or 6 calls a day from debt collectors. They ask for the couple that originally had this number. Sometimes it's an automatic hang up and sometimes it's a representative asking us if we know them. They tell us they will take us off their list, but then another debt collector calls and another and another.


Admin 03.08.2010. 22:21

Change your phone number ASAP. Call the phone company and tell them what's going on. They shouldn't charge you if you're being harassed by the bill collector scum.

If you keep the number, tell each of them (keep track of them) to stop calling you, and if they ever call back, then they will have a loud whistle blown in their ear. Next time they call, blow their eardrums out. Seriously. It's extreme, but it works.


danekw64 25.11.2009. 21:40

How to stop a debt collector from calling even when you make payments? I have never missed a payment on a payment agreement I made with a debt do I get them to stop calling? For some reason they call anyway even though they have recieved my monthly payment. Should I threaten to lower my payments I make down to just $5 a month if I get another phone call???


Admin 25.11.2009. 21:40

The folks above are wrong...they can keep calling you at home as long as you owe the debt. However, if you instruct them not to call you at work, they are required by law to stop call your job.

They are allowed by law to call you between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM 7 days per week. If they call you multiple times per day, that is considered harassment and you could sue them.

One good tactic is to tell them that you are recording their phone calls. They will not want to be recorded, and might not call as frequently.

Also, you might try changing your phone number and leaving it unlisted.


sin 16.11.2012. 15:47

how to get debt collectors to stop calling for my brother? my brother hasn't lived here in a year and recently i have been getting very harassing calls from debt collectors. i have told them before to stop calling , that he doesn't live here anymore and i have no idea what his current address or phone number is. they stop calling for a while, then start again.

it is getting to the point of harassment, they call every day many times a day. is there any way i can stop them? can i contact police? it is the same three numbers that call daily.
i really have no idea. he has no phone and has always been a loser. he could be living on the street for all i know.


Admin 16.11.2012. 15:47

Ok - I am a former debt collector (please don't hate me - it was a job) and here is some advise:

First, if he legitimately does not live there, they are required to remove the number from their system.

Second, they are permitted to call as many times a day as they want IF THEY DO NOT GET AN ANSWER. But if they actually speak to a human being, they cannot call again that day. Sorry, they can call every day if they chose, as long as it is during what the law considers "reasonable hours".

Third, calling the police would be pointless...they would just brush it off. However, debt collectors are regulated by a federal law called the FDCPA (look it up it's useful as hell!) and it's the duty of the Attorney General's office of your state to investigate complaints and possibly fine the offending company if they are in violation. So, the next time one of them calls, POLITELY get the company name and the name of the person who is calling, POLITELY tell them that your brother is not at that number and you have explained this to them before, then POLITELY tell them you will be exercising your rights under the FDCPA and filing a complaint against the company and against the caller personally. (It would be a good idea to start keeping a log of how often they call so you can use that in your complaint)

*A little side note - professional debt collectors are required to adhere to the FDCPA because they are held personally responsible for violations. In other words, if the law is violated, you can file suit against the company AND against the caller.

Good luck!


cityballer 25.04.2011. 20:07

Can I stop harrasing debt collectors from calling by writing a letter ? I saw something that you can send debt collectors a written letter to stop phone calls but the only downside would be the collection process would be sped up. now my question is the debt is only 270 $ would they pursue a debt that small by taking me to court??


Admin 25.04.2011. 20:07

My friend the surest way to stop debt collectors from calling you is by sending what is known as a "cease and desist letter". In this letter it state that the collector should cease and desist further communication with you. Note that the cease and desist letter only applies to debt collectors and not the original creditor. You can search of "cease and desist letter" format, there are lot's of it online.

And about your question, a collection company CAN take you to court to get it's money, however, this is unlikely for debts under $1500. Hope this helps, have a good day.


RE-AGENT 10.01.2008. 14:30

What is the process to sue debt collectors? A relative who have never lived in my household, not even a day, apparently have outstanding debts. Now the debt collectors have been calling my phone and leaving messages. A couple of times, they were told to stop calling my number as I don't know the whereabouts of the individual they want to collect from. However, they never stop. I reported them to the FTC but not action taken. Now, I am surely mad that I want to sue them. Any info highly appreciated. I am located in MD.


Admin 10.01.2008. 14:30

I have to disagree with the first poster on several points.
The FTC is not slow (well, they are but...). The FTC does not step in and do anything on an individual case by case basis. They generally take the complaints and act after there is numerous complaints against a company.
Even though the FTC does not intercede on an individual basis, it is still a good idea to have the FTC complaint filed.
You should also file complaints with the BBB, your AG and the collectors AG.

A collector does not have to cease calling "unless" the request is made in writing. After a collector receives a cease & desist letter they are allowed one more phone call. That call cannot be for collection purposes but to tell the alleged debtor what their plans are for the alleged account - and in your case, if they call one more time it cannot be for the purpose of locating that person but to tell you they will no longer be calling.

The letter that was posted does not fit your situation in any way and I would not recommend sending it.
That letter tells them to cease collecting on the debt. They are not calling you in the attempt to collect the debt from "you" but rather to find the alleged debtor. Asking them to cease collections on a debt they are not even trying to collect from you will not get you very far with the court if you sue.

Your letter should be more along the lines of:
This letter is in regards to your telephone calls to locate [Jane/John Doe]. You have called numerous times in your attempt to locate [J/J Doe]. My responses to you included the facts that [J/J Doe] does not now, nor has ever, lived at this address, that I do not know of this persons whereabouts and requests for you to cease calling me concerning this person.
I am requesting, in writing, that you cease further communications with me concerning [J/J Doe] as I find your telephone calls harrassing and inconvenient to me.

[you] (type your name or print your initials, never sign your signature to a letter that goes to a collector)

Send it certified mail return receipt

(the letter I posted is just a sample, if you use it then make it your own)

If they continue to call, file your complaints with the BBB and the AG's. If they continue to call, learn your states rules of civil procedures for small claims courts and file a suit against them. You should also read the FDCPA.
Never embellish or lie - on the phone, in your letters to the collector, in your filed complaints. If you do end up suing and it is found that you have embellished or lied then not only will the judge toss your case and you would be liable for all court costs, but you may end up finding yourself in contempt of court (which, depending on your state, could mean a stiff fine and/or jail time)

You have to build a solid paper trail that proves to the judge that you have done everything in your power to resolve this before you finally decided to file suit.

As for the air horn comment by the first poster, while it would be great to blast them with it, you could very well find yourself sued by the collector for physical or emotional damages (yes it has happened) Your best bet, and what would look best to a judge, is if you handled the calls in a civil manner if they continue to call before and/or after you send the C&D. (if you file against them and you had made verbal threats or did something that could possibly be harmful to a person - an air horn blast in the ear, etc, the collector more than likely records the calls and they may not hesitate to use it against you)

If you have caller ID, take photos of it every time they call. You might also purchase a recorder and tape their calls. If you tape the calls you need to learn your states taping laws - or - if you do not know your states taping laws you should inform the collector that you will be taping the call.


Liz C 22.10.2007. 22:31

what happens if a debt collector stops sending you letters? what happens if a debt collector stops sending you letters. How do i know if the debt is now invalid? I ask for a validation of debt and they never sent it to me and now they don't send me anything at all. How do i know they won't come back in 4 years? How can I stop them from haunting me in 4 years if they refuse to answer my letters now.

Liz C

Admin 22.10.2007. 22:31

Most likely they sent it to an collection agency. And yes, it will haunt you for up to 10 years.


Fluffy 21.06.2012. 13:47

Can debt collectors call you at work? How can you stop them? Can debt collectors call you at work? How can you stop them?


Admin 21.06.2012. 13:47

They are not suppose to contact you at work or they cannot contact your neighbors period. They cannot contact you between 8 pm to 8 am every night. They also cannot tell you that: they will garnish your wages, have you arrested or take your house. If they do the above, you'd be able to complain to the FTC. You are also able to sue them over their violations under the FDCPA.


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