Debt collectors are relentless. If you owe money that is past due, or simply if the debt collector thinks you owe money that is past due, they will call you. And call you. And mail you letters. They may contact you at work. They might even contact people that you know. Some of these actions are legal and others are not; but even when the actions they take are legal, you have rights. You should stand up for those rights.
The FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT is a federal law that puts limits on collection activity. It applies to debt collection agencies but it also applies to individuals and groups that you might not think of as debt collectors at first - for example, a law firm can be considered a debt collector and subject to the Act under certain circumstances.
What you need to know if you are being called by a debt collector is that 1. YOU HAVE RIGHTS; and 2. YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS. As a consumer law firm, we are here to help empower you.
Debt collection agencies manipulate the very unpleasant feelings of shame, embarrassment, and fear. They understand that people are afraid of the effects on their credit scores, employment, and social standing that the collection might have. They understand that people will be embarrassed and ashamed of the problem - likely too ashamed to ask for help. Because of this, debt collectors make mistakes. There are entirely fraudulent debt collection operations out there and many of them make tons of money.
If you want the collector to stop contacting you, you can ask them to and they must honor your request. If you do so, the debt collector may still pursue the debt using whatever legal means they have at their disposal - which could mean that at some point, the debt collector or a law firm representing the debt collector or the original creditor will sue you. Stopping contact should be seen as a temporary measure and a first step in dealing with the debt collector, because they will never engage with you or negotiate with you on a level playing field. Some of them, retained on contingency, don't really want to hear it if the debt is a mistake (even if it's the truth.) It is almost always a good idea to involve a competent consumer attorney look at your situation and provide advice. Often, a lawyer who knows the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act well can see things that you missed, and is probably in a better position to evaluate whether the debt collector is a legitimate operation or not.
If you wish to write your own stop contact letter, you can download our free MS Word template below. Keep in mind that Divis Law does not know anything about your case and is not by any means telling you the letter will work in your situation, or giving you any advice about your case. We recommend that if you do send a letter, you call an attorney right away to help you navigate the process of fighting a debt collector. We hope you'll contact Divis Law. There are many strategies for fighting debt collection; stopping contact is just a first step that gives you some breathing room. Contact professionals for help.
You may have more rights than you realize, and frequently we can take clients for very little up front. We hope to hear from you, but if we don't, we hope this template is helpful.