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Sample Cease and Desist Letter Template for Debt Collectors
Receiving calls and letters from a debt collector can be a nerve-racking experience. Under federal law, there are strict rules about how debt collectors can go about their business.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlines these rules, ensuring that consumers are protected from unethical or illegal behavior. Unfortunately, some debt collectors still choose to overstep their boundaries, resorting to harassment and other unfair practices.
What is a cease and desist letter?
A cease and desist letter to a debt collector is a formal-written notice that instructs a debt collector to stop contacting you about a debt. It also notifies the debt collector that you are aware of your legal rights and that you are prepared to take legal action if necessary.
You can send a cease and desist letter if you want the debt collector to stop calling you. The purpose of this letter is to formally request that the debt collection agency refrain from contacting you about the debt you owe.
When to Use a Cease and Desist Letter
If you’ve been subjected to annoying phone calls or letters from a debt collection agency, a cease and desist letter could be a powerful tool in your arsenal. This letter is a formal request for the debt collector to cease communicating with you about an alleged debt. However, it’s crucial to understand that sending a cease and desist letter may have implications, potentially leading to a debt collection lawsuit if the debt collector decides to escalate the matter.
Before you take this step, you might want to consider alternatives, such as negotiating with the collector, paying the debt if you owe it, or filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your state’s attorney general’s office.
Components of a Cease and Desist Letter
A cease and desist letter should be clear, concise, and professional. It should include:
- Your personal information.
- The debt collector’s address and account number.
- A clear request for the collector to cease all contact regarding the alleged debt.
- References to the FDCPA and any other relevant laws.
- A request for debt verification, if necessary.
You should also be aware that while a cease and desist request can stop the contact, it does not erase the debt or prevent the collector from pursuing legal action.
Sample Cease and Desist Letter Template
Below is a sample cease and desist letter template that can be customized to your situation. Be sure to send it via certified mail with return receipt requested to ensure the debt collector receives your letter.
[City, State, Zip Code]
[Debt Collector’s Name]
[Debt Collector’s Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Re: [Debt Collector’s Account Number]
Dear [Debt Collector’s Name],
I am writing in reference to the above account number. According to my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), I am requesting that you immediately cease all communication with me and any third parties regarding this alleged debt.
If your office decides to proceed with a lawsuit, you may serve the papers to the address noted above. Be advised that I will not hesitate to seek legal representation if necessary.
This letter is not an acknowledgment or acceptance of the alleged debt, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship or provide any waiver of my rights.
What to Expect After Sending a Cease and Desist Letter
Once a debt collector receives your letter, they are required under federal law to stop contacting you. However, they may only contact you one more time regarding your debt. They are also allowed to take other actions, such as filing a lawsuit.
The debt collector may call or write to 1) inform you that they will no longer attempt to collect the debt and 2) respond to your inquiry. If they contact you for any other reason, they might be in violation of the FDCPA and be subject to legal penalties.
Debt collectors can also place negative marks on your credit report and pursue other ways of satisfying the debt that they normally use. However, with a written cease and desist letter, a debt collection agency can’t barrage you with phone calls and letters as a method of getting you to pay.
What happens if a debt collector does not comply with my cease and desist letter?
If the debt collector fails to respect your cease-and-desist order and continues to contact you, keep records of each contact. These records can serve as evidence if you decide to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or your state’s attorney general’s office. You may also want to contact an attorney or a reputable credit repair company like Lexington Law Firm.
Any contact beyond informing you of their next steps may expose the debt collector to both civil and criminal liability. Contacting a reputable expert early on in the process can potentially strengthen your case against debt collectors if they are indeed in the wrong.
Pros and Cons of Sending a Cease and Desist Letter
Sending a cease and desist letter can turn out to be a bit of a gamble because there are really only two potential outcomes. The first is that the debt collector decides to stop pursuing your debt altogether. Obviously, that would be an ideal scenario.
However, the second potential outcome is that the debt collection company could decide to file a lawsuit against you. So, you don’t have to make the decision entirely blindly. It might be fairly obvious that collecting on the debt might not be worth their effort in some situations. That’s because it takes debt collectors time and money to sue someone and collect the money.
If your debt is small or old (particularly if it’s nearing your state’s statute of limitations), the debt collector might decide that the debt isn’t worth pursuing.
On the other hand, when they receive your letter, they may realize that they won’t receive any money from you unless they take more drastic actions. So, there’s definitely a risk of provoking them, especially if you owe a large amount of money.
Even with the time it takes to bring a lawsuit to trial and pay for an attorney, the debt collector might still feel that it’s in their best interest to move forward with legal action. No matter what size your debt is or its age, you should always be prepared for this response because there’s no way to know for sure what they will do.
Tips for Sending a Cease and Desist Letter
When sending a cease and desist letter, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines. First, use firm, yet professional language. This is not the place to get personal. Include your full name, address, and account number, and be sure to reference the FDCPA.
It’s advisable not to include the debt’s original account information in your cease and desist letter. The debt collector may not have all the details of your account, and you certainly don’t want to provide them with it. It could be something they use against you in court if they file a lawsuit.
Use careful language that doesn’t implicate yourself in anything you’ve been accused of. Never acknowledge that you owe the debt. In all communications, refer to the debt as the “alleged debt.” Admitting that you owe the debt will reset the timeline for the statute of limitations.
Once the debt collector has received your request, the FDCPA only allows them to contact you one last time by letter. The purpose of this is to let you know what action they will take, if any. They’ll be less likely to abuse this federal law if they know that you’re fully aware of your legal rights.
Certified Mail with Return Receipt
Send the letter via certified mail, with a return receipt requested so that you can confirm the debt collector received it.
Be sure to keep a copy of the cease and desist letter for your own records as well. Even if you decide not to send a letter, you should keep detailed records of every communication.
More Tips for Handling Debt Collectors
There are other ways to minimize your interactions with debt collectors. One way is to request that they stop calling you at your place of employment.
You should be able to make this request over the phone, and they are then legally required to comply. However, more aggressive debt collectors may ignore your request and continue to call.
If it does happen, you should record the details of your initial phone conversation. Get the name of the person you spoke to, their direct extension number, and the date and time of the call.
Keep it on hand in case your request to stop calls at work is ignored. You can then take this information to a lawyer specializing in debt collection to determine your best next steps.
Stopping Collection Calls to a Cell Phone
Another way to lessen the impact of calls to your cell phone is by employing a little modern technology. For example, if you block a debt collector’s phone number or disconnect your phone, they may just start contacting people you know.
To get around this, it’s best to let the call go to voicemail if you don’t want to talk to the debt collection agency. Both iPhones and Androids have a feature allowing you to assign a silent ringtone to specific phone numbers.
That lets your phone ring and go to voicemail when debt collectors call without having to hear it every single time. For landlines, consider silencing your ringer. Then, you can listen to your messages later to get in touch with people you actually want to hear from.
There are many effective ways to handle collection agencies when you’re in debt. Cease and desist letters are a firm way to stop them from contacting you altogether. You may have other options that are also worth exploring. However, understanding the purpose and function of cease and desist letters can help you avoid aggressive calls on a regular basis.
Although dealing with annoying debt collectors can be stressful, remember that you have rights under federal law. If a debt collector is violating these rights, sending a cease and desist letter could be a step towards regaining your peace of mind. However, it’s essential to understand the potential implications of this action and to consult with a professional if necessary.
By being proactive and knowledgeable about your rights, you can better manage your interactions with debt collectors and take control of your financial situation.