Debt collectors are merciless, and may continuously call you and mail letters in an attempt to collect on a debt. If a debt collector is contacting and harassing you, you have the right to request that they stop contacting you by writing a cease-and-desist letter.
This article will explain what a cease and desist letter is, what it should include, how to write one (with a template to make it easier), and other essential information you need to know.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Cease-and-Desist Letter?
- 2 How to Write a Cease-and-Desist Letter
- 3 Cease-and-Desist Letter Template
- 4 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Stopping Future Collection Calls
- 5 Drawbacks of a Cease-and-Desist Letter
- 6 Further Legal Collection Activity and Your Credit Score
- 7 How Credit Repair Services Can Help Remove Collections Accounts From Your Credit Report
What Is a Cease-and-Desist Letter?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows for you to send a cease-and-desist letter to stop further contact from third-party debt collection agencies. It is essential to note that cease-and-desist letters only apply to third-party debt collectors and not the original creditor or lender who provided you the credit or loan.
For the cease-and-desist request to be legally binding, it must be in written form — a cease-and-desist letter. You can submit the letter after the first contact with the debt collector. Once the letter is received by the debt collector, they are allowed to contact you one more time to inform you of their response and what action they will choose to take.
If the debt collection agency continues to contact you after they have received your letter, they are in violation of the FDCPA, and you can submit a complaint against them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
You Do Not Need a Lawyer to Send a Cease-and-Desist Letter to Collections Agencies
While a lawyer will help if a collections agency is harassing you or fails to comply with the cease-and-desist letter, you don’t need one to send a letter. A lawyer can help if, instead of responding to your cease-and-desist letter, the collections agency sues you for the money owed.
You also don’t need to use legal language in the letter. The collections agency already knows the law. However, you do need to use clear and direct language and include a few essential elements.
How to Write a Cease-and-Desist Letter
A cease-and-desist letter should contain a few elements and should be personalized to your own unique situation. A cease-and-desist letter should include:
- Your name.
- The current date.
- The address of the debt collector.
- The account number that is associated with the collection.
- Details of the account from your credit report, information from letters sent to you by the debt collector, or notes you have taken during a call with the collector.
- A request that the debt collector no longer contacts you.
- Or, if you don’t want them to stop contacting you completely, you can define certain times you wish to be called, or note that you do not want to be contacted at work.
It is best to type the letter and print it out. If you do not have access to a computer and printer at home, you can use a computer and printer from a public library. You should also be sure to print a second copy of the letter to keep for your own personal records.
In your letter, you should not acknowledge that the debt is yours, and you do not need to mention or include anything about paying the debt. If you acknowledge the debt as yours or make a payment you could reset the statute of limitations and re-age the debt.
How to Serve a Cease-and-Desist Letter
Your cease-and-desist letter should be printed and sent via certified mail. You may also request a receipt, so you are sure the collections agency received the letter. It is essential that you send the letter in written form, as the collector is not legally required to abide by a verbal request.
Cease-and-Desist Letter Template
[City, State, Zip]
[Collection Agency’s Name]
[City, State, Zip]
Re: [Account Number]
Dear Sir or Madam:
Pursuant to my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I am formally requesting you cease and desist communication with me, as well as my family, friends, and place of employment in regards to this and any other alleged debts.
Should you fail to comply, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the [Your State] Attorney General’s office and pursue civil and criminal claims.
Downloadable Cease-and-Desist Letter Sample for Debt Collections
It is important that you include your personal information in the letter. You can download the cease-and-desist letter template to use as an outline for constructing your cease-and-desist letter for debt collectors.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Stopping Future Collection Calls
Once the debt collection agency receives your letter, they are entitled to contact you one last time to update you on how they will proceed. It is important to take the call so you know what the next steps are in the process.
Some debt collectors may also offer to settle for a smaller amount of money if you own the debt. If the debt truly is yours, it is important to pay it off. Taking an offer to pay back a smaller amount can be helpful to your future finances and financial strategy.
Furthermore, if the debt is yours and you do not pay it, your cease-and-desist letter only applies to the debt collector you sent it to. If your debt has been sold to another collection agency and you have new debt collectors contacting you, you will need to send a new cease-and-desist letter to the new debt collection agency.
Drawbacks of a Cease-and-Desist Letter
Sending a cease-and-desist letter is beneficial if a debt collector is harassing you and causing you unhealthy amounts of stress. However, telling a debt collector to cease and desist contact does not eliminate the debt, and can limit the amount of information you’ll receive about the legal actions a debt collector may take against you.
Further Legal Collection Activity and Your Credit Score
You can send a cease-and-desist letter whether the debt is yours or not. This does not mean that debt collection agencies have to stop trying to force you to pay the debt, nor do they have to stop other collection activities. A cease-and-desist letter means they can’t call you or send you letters.
The debt collection agency can still file a lawsuit against you and sue you to have the courts legally enforce the debt.
It’s important to note that, if the debt is old or small, the chances of a lawsuit may be small, as it won’t be worth the agency’s time. However, you will still take a hit to your credit score.
While there are ways to get a paid debt off your credit report, it’s nearly impossible to get a debt you owe that is legitimately yours removed. Either way, be prepared, as the agency suing you is still an option until the statute of limitations runs out.
Keep a record of any letters or calls from collection agencies, both before and after a cease-and-desist letter. In a worst-case scenario, this will prove they are still contacting you after you send your letter. The agency can only contact you a single time after your letter, to inform you of how they are responding.
How Credit Repair Services Can Help Remove Collections Accounts From Your Credit Report
If you still have bad or fair credit, or just want someone with experience to write and send the letter for you, consider hiring a credit repair service. They can help you repair your credit or dispute fraudulent, erroneous, and other negative items from your credit report. Need more writing tips or other letter templates? Visit our credit and collections letter template resource center.
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