Ask Bill your personal finance question

How to Tell Collectors to Stop Calling

How do I tell collectors to stop calling me?

I am unable to afford to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but hope to do so soon. In the meantime, how do I handle all the creditors calling and the letters? Do I answer them?

Read full question
Bill's Answer
3.5
/5.0
(6 Votes)

Updated: Sep 24, 2014

Bills.com | Find Learn Save

About 1.5 million American households file for bankruptcy every year. For more information on bankruptcy, read the Federal Trade Commission’s documents Before You File for Personal Bankruptcy, and Information About Credit Counseling and Debtor Education. For self-help tips, please visit the Bills.com Debt DIY page. I also encourage you to visit the Bills.com bankruptcy page. If you cannot afford bankruptcy, see the Bills.com resource Bankruptcy Alternatives.

Stopping Creditor Calls

Not answering the telephone will not deter collection agents. You must inform the original creditor or collection agent calling you about your present situation and make it clear you are in no position to make payments on your debt at this time. If you plan to file for bankruptcy, you have the option to state that, although do not expect that statement to stem the tide. Collection agents are unrelenting: Make it clear you are aware of your rights or they will continue to call or harass you.

Congress enacted federal legislation that regulates debt collectors, which includes collection attorneys, and protects the rights of debtors. This law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA ), requires that debt collectors and attorneys stop calling you at home and at work once you ask them to stop. The law specifies your request must be in writing. Therefore, tell them to stop calling you at home and at work the next time they call, but follow-up your phone conversation with a USPS Certified Letter, return receipt requested. Shown below is a sample letter template.

Sample Do Not Contact Letter Template
Source: Bills.com

Date
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Collection Agency's Name
Collection Agency's Address
Collection Agency's City, State, Zip Code

Subject: Debt Collection Against [Your Name] Creditor Name: [Creditor] Account No. [Number]

Dear Account Representative,

I am writing pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692c(c), to request to request that you cease all communication to me about my account [number ________] with [creditor].

[If you wish, explain your circumstances. For example, "I was recently laid off from my job, and I do not presently have any resources with which to pay off this debt. Once I have again secured employment, I intend to resume payment on the debt."]

[If there have been any violations of the FDCPA, you may wish to describe them. For example, "Please note that in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, one of your agents contacted me last night at 9:30 PM. Should your agency contact me at any time in the future, please be sure that your contact is made in full compliance with the FDCPA."]

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Enclosures: (If any, list what you are enclosing, otherwise, do not include this line.)

Sending this type of notice does not resolve the debt. The creditor may file a lawsuit against you in order to collect the debt, even if you prohibit further contact by the collection agency. In most states, the FDCPA does not apply to original creditors, like a credit card company, but applies to debt collection agencies and attorneys collecting debt. However, in some states the FDCPA does apply to original creditors.

I hope the information provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

10 Comments

Recent Best
1500 characters remaining
  • BA
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    If the long-term strategy is to default on payments, then there is no point in having any further contact with the creditors. Contacting the creditors to alert them of the intent to default may be the polite thing to do, but the banks do not have feelings. As a practical matter, it would not be wise to inform the banks of the intent to default. It may make their collection attempts more aggressive.
    0 Votes

  • LH
    Feb, 2010
    Lori
    It looks like not filing is her plan. What response, if any, should she give creditors? Should she even answer? I'm thinking she should tell the credit card company ONCE that she's unable to pay them and not answer beyond that. (Should that be done in writing?) The way I see it, if she makes ANY further payments, that would keep the account alive and they would continue to hope to get the full (and growing) amount. They will never give up on it.
    0 Votes

  • BA
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Some people are, in effect, judgment-proof because they have no assets and likely never will have any that a creditor can attach. It is impossible for me to determine if your friend falls into this category because all I know about her is what you have written here. A competent, honest bankruptcy attorney will offer a client a no-cost initial consultation. During this consultation he or she can give your friend an opinion whether she can consider herself judgment proof, or if bankruptcy is a more appropriate long-term strategy given her individual circumstances.
    0 Votes

  • LH
    Feb, 2010
    Lori
    A friend (honest, it's not me) is 55 years old. She was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer early last year. She has no sick leave or disability benefits at work but did have health insurance which covered some of her medical bills. While she was out, she also had to pay her own health premiums. She has basically no property other than her clothes and an old pickup truck. She lives with her boyfriend; the house and all furnishings inside are his property. Bankruptcy lawyers are asking for $2000 that she just does not have. The boyfriend says she should just tell creditors that she cannot pay them and not bother doing the bankruptcy. She has no belongings that she would need to protect. What are the ramifications of not filing bankruptcy? She is in Florida. Other than medical bills, her credit card is her burden. Her medical needs are ongoing, but she has just been approved to receive medical care from the Veteran's Administration (she is a Vietnam Era Veteran of the USN).
    0 Votes

  • BA
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Call your county bar association. Ask for the name and contact information of the local organization that helps low- and no-income people who have legal difficulties. Make an appointment with the pro bono group at that agency. When you attend the appointment, bring all of the letters and statements relating to the debts you mentioned to that meeting. Ask the paralegal or attorney in your meeting to explain your options for resolving the debt. In the meantime, read What Are My Debt Resolution Options? and Types of bankruptcy to understand the concepts of what the paralegal or attorney will explain in your meeting.
    0 Votes