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Home Self-help Library Consumer Rights What to Do When Creditors Are Harassing You: The Fair Debt Collection Pactices Act

What to Do When Creditors Are Harassing You: The Fair Debt Collection Pactices ActPrintE-mailPDF

What To Do When Creditors Are Harassing You

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law to protect consumers from unfair and abusive behavior by debt collectors.  A debt collector is someone trying to collect money owed to someone else.  For example, if a credit card company turns your account over to a collections agency to try to get money from you, the FDCPA applies. However, if the credit card company is contacting you themselves to collect money that you owe them, the FDCPA does not apply.

The FDCPA protects consumers:
a debt collector may not harass you by mail, telephone or in any other way.  Harassment includes (but is not limited to):

  • Yelling or calling you names over the telephone
  • Calling you numerous times each day or
  • Calling at strange times such as very early in the morning or very late at night

If you do not want to talk to a bill collector anymore you can hang up.
  First say why you are doing this. For example: they are being loud and abusive, or you have no money to pay.

If you are being harassed by creditors you should write to the creditor to demand that they stop bothering you. This is called a “Cease Communications Letter.” Send this letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.  Save a photocopy of this letter and the return receipt as evidence.  The bill collector can call to verify that you sent the letter but should not contact you anymore.

A “Cease Communications Letter” will tell the debt collector to stop contacting you. If you wish, you may explain why you are unable to pay or the reason that you feel that you should not have to repay the debt.  Once the creditor receives that letter they may only contact you one more time, to let you know that they have received it and to let you know what they plan to do with your account.  If they contact you more than the one time allowed, they are in violation of the FDCPA.  You may have a legal claim against them.

A “Cease Communications Letter will not get rid of the debt.  It just means that the debt collector will have to stop contacting you.  They can still sue you in Court.  If a creditor successfully sues you, they will get a judgment against you.  The creditor could seek to garnish your wages or put a lien on your property.

A sample “Cease Communications Letter” is attached.  You may send it to your creditors or use in drafting your own. The letter is intended only to be a sample of how such a letter should be drafted.  Community Legal Aid Services cannot represent you in this matter. We make no guarantee that sending a letter based on our sample will resolve your problem.

Sample "Cease Communications Letter


(Collection Agency’s Name and Address)

(Creditor’s Name and Your Account Number)


Dear Debt Collector:

You are hereby notified to immediately cease all communications with me regarding the collection of a debt. This includes any communication by telephone, mail or any other medium to either my home or place of employment.

______  I am financially unable to repay the debt at this time.

______  I do not think that I owe this debt because:
     ______The product was defective
    ______  I never received the product or service
    ______  I have already paid
    ______  I was improperly charged
    ______  The debt is not enforceable because: _________________________________
Other: ______________________________________________________________________
______  I choose not to explain why I am not repaying the debt at this time.

Any further contact by you would be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and could result in a judgment against you for actual or statutory damages plus attorney fees.


Name: _______________________________________
Address _______________________________________


(company name and address)


RE: CLIENT NO.__________________
       DEBT: ______________________(present balance)


I am writing in reference to your efforts to collect a debt from me. I am requesting that, in accordance with 15 USA 1692 (The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act) you cease further communication. This request is made due to my present financial situation and ongoing inability to make payments on this debt.

        ______  I have no personal income that is not exempt from attachment
        ______  I do not own real estate
        ______  I have no assets to dispose of to convert to cash
        ______  I am not employed
        ______  I dispute the present account balance of $__________

Should my situation improve, I will contact you to work out a payment plan based on an accurate balance statement. You will be notified immediately should I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. I appreciate your attention to this matter.


Name: _________________________
Address: _______________________


This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Information updated February 2012. CE-02-F021-CLAS

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