Carrying a lot of debt can be stressful, so the last thing you need on top of that is having to field intrusive calls from aggressive debt collectors. If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone: nearly one-third of Americans with credit have debt in collections, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Whether you’re getting debt collection calls because you can’t pay back what you owe, or because you’re in a debt settlement program and you’re letting your bills go past due strategically, debt collection calls could push you to your limit. Here’s how to stop debt collection calls.
What is the best way to stop debt collection calls?
The most obvious way to stop debt collection calls is to pay what you owe—but not everyone can do this. If you’ve been having a difficult time keeping up with payments, you may have accrued late fees and other penalties that make it even harder to get caught up.
Getting current on your monthly payments might stop them from calling you, but you have to make sure you’re keeping up with those payments or they’ll start calling again. The best way to do that is by coming up with a credit card payoff strategy. Depending on how much you owe and how much you can afford to pay, there are different strategies that could work for you.
While you’re figuring out a strategy to get out of debt, you may still be getting debt collection calls. If you want these calls to stop for good, you have the right to request that your debt collector cease all communication with you. This request needs to be done in writing and is known as a “cease and desist” letter.
How to write a cease and desist letter to a debt collector
Cease and desist letters are an official request that notifies your debt collector that you want them to stop contacting you. You don’t need a lawyer, and should be able to do it on your own. All you have to do is get your debt collector’s name, address, and other information and send them a letter officially requesting they stop debt collection calls.
In your letter, make sure to clearly state to the debt collector that you’re requesting them to cease and desist all contact with you, your family, and your friends in reference to any alleged debt you owe.
Also let them know that if they don’t comply with your request, you will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s Attorney General’s office.
In your letter, make sure that you also include:
- The date
- Your name and address
- The name of the debt collection agency
- The account number on the debt you owe
It’s a good idea to keep a record that you sent a cease and desist letter to your creditor so that if they contact you again, you can prove that you already asked them not to. But even if you’ve sent a cease and desist letter, debt collectors can still contact you to let you know they’re ending all communication with you or to inform you if they plan to file a lawsuit to collect the debt.
While sending a cease and desist letter will stop debt collectors from contacting you, it doesn’t mean that your debt is forgiven. You’ll still owe the money and the debt will keep accruing the longer you put it off. You could wait for the debt to expire, but depending on your state laws, that could take more than 10 years, you could get sued, and your credit will take a hit. This is not a good strategy.
How to stop debt collection calls at work
Debt collectors are not allowed to call you at a time that’s inconvenient to you, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). So if a debt collector is calling you at work, you’re legally allowed to tell them to stop. All you have to do is tell them that it is inconvenient for you to take their calls during work hours and that you could lose your job if they keep calling.
Make sure to note the date and time you requested they stop calling you at work. Then, write them a cease and desist letter with a formal request to stop contacting you at your place of employment.
What if debt collectors are calling the wrong number?
It’s quite common for people to find themselves on the end of a debt collector call because of a wrong number. There are debt collectors who buy outdated debts from the original creditors with a view to profiting from them. Typically, they’re using old information and calling a wrong number by mistake. Innocent or not, it’s understandable that you may feel harassed and victimized being called about a debt that’s not yours.
Here’s how you stop debt collection calls for someone else’s debt:
- Answer the phone and explain you’re not the person they’re looking for
- Tell them that the number they’re calling is not the right one
- Send a cease and desist letter to request that they stop contacting you
- If they continue to call, file a complaint with the FTC
As always, keep a record of when debt collectors call you, what you say to them, and the date on which you sent your cease and desist letter.
How to stop calls if you’re working with a debt settlement company
One way to get out of debt faster and for less than you currently owe is by working with a debt settlement company, which negotiates with your creditors to get them to accept less than they’re owed on a debt. In order for them to get the leverage they need to negotiate a debt reduction for you, you have to let your debt go past due. But when you do that, it’s likely that creditors and debt collectors will contact you in an effort to get paid in full.
If you’re getting debt collection calls because you’re working with a debt settlement company, know that these calls should stop as soon as your debt settlement company has reached an agreement with your creditor.
In the meantime, you may have to wait out these calls, ignore them, or simply answer them and tell your debt collector that you can’t pay them back right now. Depending on the debt settlement company you’re working with, you may also be provided with advice on how to deal with these calls.
While working with a debt settlement company, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to stop debt collection calls. You may find you still have to field some calls until the entire debt is settled. But at least now you know your rights and can take steps to protect yourself, your job, and your sanity.
Take control of your debt today
If you’re struggling with debt and wondering how to stop debt collection calls, it might be time to take action. Freedom Debt Relief can help you understand your options for dealing with debt, including our debt settlement program. Our Certified Debt Consultants will work with you to determine the best solution for your needs. Find out if you qualify right now.
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