It is a question BBB receives hundreds, if not thousands of times daily from coast to coast concerning collections agencies.
When it comes to legitimate collection agencies, the answer is simple: write a letter.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the Federal law that says what debt collectors can and can’t do.
Debt collectors have certain rules they must follow when it comes to contacting you over the phone. For example, they can’t call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. your local time. They can’t call you repeatedly, and they can’t call you at anytime you’ve previously stated is inconvenient.
The surest way to stop debt collectors from calling you is by sending what is known as a cease and desist letter.
In the letter, state that the collector should cease and desist further communication with you. Note that the cease and desist letter only applies to debt collectors, not the original creditor.
When you send the cease and desist letter to the debt collector, send it via certified mail with return receipt requested. This will provide proof that the letter was sent and received.
If the debt collector communicates with you beyond the single instance allowed by law, this evidence will allow you to seek punitive action against the debt collector.
This does not mean the debt collector can no longer seek to collect the debt, only that it cannot call you to do so.
Under any circumstance, debt collectors are not allowed to:
- Harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.
- Use threats of violence or harm
- Use obscene or profane language
- Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
- Use false statements such as claim to be an attorney, threaten arrest or imprisonment or threaten legal action unless they actually intend to.
- Misrepresent the amount you owe.
Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.