If you’re tired of being constantly called by a debt collector, you may be wondering how to make the calls stop. It can be stressful and overwhelming to feel like you are being harassed or pressured to do what the debt collector demands.
However, it’s important to remember that you have rights and options in this situation. Don’t let yourself feel powerless or like the calls will never end. Take control of the situation and learn about your options for addressing debt collection harassment.
When is a debt collector allowed to call?
First, you should know that a debt collector can’t just call you whenever they want. They are only allowed to call between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM. If they call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM, it’s considered harassment unless you worked it out with them to talk during that time.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was put in place to protect the consumer from unlawful collection practices. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if the debt collector is in violation of the FDCPA.
The FDCPA is a “strict liability” law. This means that you do not have to prove any actual damages. You have one year from the time the debt collector violated the law to sue for damages in the State or Federal court. You can be awarded up to $1,000 plus attorney’s fees because the debt collector violated federal law.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is another government agency in the federal sector that enforces debt collection laws; they seek to protect consumers against harassment.
Is it legal for debt collectors to call?
It is legal for debt collectors to call you within reasonable hours, again from 8 AM to 9 PM. They can contact you at your place of employment, but if you ask them to stop, they must obey the law.
Debt collectors can contact you via email or text message. They can also send you letters in the mail. If they can’t get a hold of you one way, they’re likely to try another way to get your attention and make you take action.
When can a debt collector’s call be considered harassment?
There’s a fine line between contacting you to talk about an alleged debt and harassment. It’s essential to know how to recognize when you’re being harassed and how to stop collection calls.
Harassment can be subjective, but the law protects you if you think a debt collector is harassing you. You must keep track of all methods of contact, words spoken, and threats made when you feel harassed.
While there are hundreds of ways debt collectors can harass you, here are some signs of harassment:
- Threatening criminal action or physical harm if you don’t pay the debt
- Using obscene or profane language
- Contacting you more often than necessary, even a few times a day, is too much.
- Impersonating a lawyer or police officer
- Calling and hanging up repeatedly
- Providing false or misleading statements to scare you into paying the debt
How can I stop debt collectors from contacting me?
A cease and desist letter is the most effective way to stop debt collectors from calling you. If debt collectors continue to call after receiving a cease and desist letter, they may be breaking the law and could face consequences.
You can write this on your own. You don’t need an attorney’s help. Just make sure you’re writing the letter to the appropriate debt collection agency. Check the name and address and include your name and account number in the letter. You will also want to send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested.
Make sure you clearly state that you want the debt collector to stop calling you. Furthermore, include any other places or people the debt collector has called that you want them to stop calling. Your final statement should mention that you will file a complaint with the FTC if they don’t follow through. This statement alone usually makes them stop.
Once they receive your letter, the debt collector may not contact you again except to confirm that they’ve received your letter and to let you know there will be no further contact.
What are the disadvantages of stopping debt collectors’ calls?
If a debt collector is not harassing you, it may be better to ignore their calls instead of telling them to stop contacting you. If they are harassing you, it’s important to stop their calls to end the harassment.
If you tell the debt collector to stop calling you, they will, but that means you won’t get any information about your debt. Even if you stop debt collection calls, debt collectors may still take legal action against you. It’s better to get the information so you can negotiate with them or figure out your next steps rather than being unpleasantly surprised.
Furthermore, if you tell the debt collector to stop contacting you, they could just sell your debt to another collection agency that may do the same thing, or they may sue you. Either way, you’ll still be on the hook for the debt, and it can hurt your credit even further.
But, if you feel harassed, the statute of limitations has passed, or the debt doesn’t belong to you, by all means, write the letter and make them stop calling you.
Is it a good idea to let debt collectors call?
If you know the debt is yours and you plan to find a way to satisfy it, you may want to let them call you, but don’t let it get unpleasant. If you don’t want them calling a specific number, such as contacting you at work, tell them so.
When you let debt collectors call, you can give them updates on how you’re doing with your plan to settle your debt, or you can negotiate the debt.
Since debt collectors often buy your debt for pennies on the dollar, you have room to negotiate. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this. You’ve already been hit for the late payments with the original creditor, so go ahead and negotiate a lower payoff. In your negotiations, also ask the debt collector to remove the collection from your credit report after you settle it as agreed.
This is called a pay-for-delete. Collection agencies don’t have to accept it, but many will in exchange for payment. Include it in your negotiations and see where you end up; you may come out with a more favorable outcome than you thought.
Tips On Avoiding Debt Collection Calls
If you don’t write a cease and desist letter, there’s not much stopping a debt collector from calling you, but here are some tips to avoid the debt collector calls until you’re ready.
- Only allow debt collectors to call your home number. If they call you at work or at a relative’s house, ask them to stop. Be specific about the numbers they are not allowed to call so you don’t feel harassed.
- Tell the debt collector you prefer to discuss the issue in writing. This permits them to email you or send you mail, but not to call you. This leaves the door open and the chance to settle the debt, reducing the risk of a lawsuit.
- You don’t have to answer the phone. Nothing says that you must answer the phone when debt collectors call, so don’t feel obligated to do so.
Knowing how to stop debt collector harassment is essential. While most debt collection agencies operate within the law, plenty of them cross the line. Being aware of what a debt collector can and can’t do is important. You’ll know when they’re violating the laws and when you have the right to file a complaint.
Don’t let aggressive debt collectors harass or overwhelm you. Instead, figure out what you want to do and how you want to settle the debt. Keep the communications cordial and ask them not to call you where you are uncomfortable being contacted. If they harass you, file a complaint and consider legal action if it continues.
Stop Debt Collection Calls FAQs
Is it possible to make the debt collector stop calling me completely?
It’s possible to request that the debt collector stop contacting you completely. However, they may be legally permitted to continue contacting you if they need to notify you of certain actions, such as a lawsuit.
Can I just ignore the calls from the debt collector?
Ignoring the calls from debt collectors will not make the debt go away. The debt collector may continue to try to contact you or take other actions to collect the debt.
Can I tell debt collectors to only contact me in writing?
Yes, you can request that the debt collector only communicate with you through written correspondence. This is also a good way to keep track of the communication and have a record of it.
Can I verbally tell a debt collector to stop calling?
Yes, you can tell a debt collector to stop calling you, and you can do this at any point during the collection process. However, it’s best to follow up this request with a written cease and desist letter.
This will provide you with a written record of your request, and may make it easier to enforce your rights if the debt collector continues to call you.