• Published: May 23, 2020
Stop Debt Collector Harrasment

If you are receiving harassing phone calls, letters, and emails from a debt collector, there are numerous ways to put an end to this conduct. If the conduct is truly egregious, as detailed in our Fair Debt Collection Practices Act blog post, you may even be able to collect penalties, damages, and attorneys’ fees from the collector (collecting from the collector is one of the greatest 180s in the legal game). In this post, however, we will detail how to stop the harassment, how to take back control, and how to put an end to the incessant demands of the debt collector utilizing these few steps:

1. Know Who You Are Dealing With. There are some very unscrupulous debt companies out there. Naturally, there are some very professional companies that know the law, use best practices, and treat debtors with respect. Then there are numerous fly-by-night debt buyers that are out to turn a quick profit on debt they bought for pennies on the dollar. When the debt collector calls you need to ask a few questions: ask for their name, company, phone number, and business address.

Unfortunately, Kansas and Missouri do not require a debt collector to be bonded, licensed and requires no fee to establish a debt collection company. Therefore, anyone with a few thousand dollars and a desire to turn a quick profit can buy a few hundred thousand dollars in old debt. However, you can still check the registry for a debt collector in a neighboring state on the Nationwide Multi-state Licensing System at www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org. That website will thus provide a few more states where the debt collector might be licensed.

This will allow you to peak behind the curtain of the debt collector calling you. You will be able to see the debt collector’s other names, prior names, regulatory actions, self-reported disciplinary actions. You will get a feel for the size and age of the debt collector. The NMLS will show you all the collector’s registrations and locations. The debt collector may know about you, now you know a little about them.

2. The “stop Contact” Letter. The easiest way to stop collection harassment is to write the collector a “stop contact” letter. Then the collector can only acknowledge the letter and notify you about legal steps the collector may take. This a federal right, however, and only applies to collection agencies hired by the creditor and does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. But even creditors collecting their own debts will often honor such requests. Below is a sample letter (see a word version here):

[Your name]

[Your return address]

[Date]

[Debt collector name]

[Debt collector address]

Re: [Account number for the debt if you have it]

Dear [Debt collector name],

I am responding to your contact about an alleged debt you are attempting to collect. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date]. You identified the alleged debt as [any information they gave you about the debt].

Please stop all communication with me and with this address about this alleged debt.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Important: Even if debt collector stops contacting you because of the letter, you will still owe the debt.

You will send this letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies of the letter and the return receipt (the signed green card) that comes back.

If the debt collector keeps contacting you, send another letter certified mail, return receipt requested. Let them know that you are aware that they are violating the federal law by continuing to contact you. Keep copies of the second letter and the return receipt (the signed green card) that comes back. Keep a careful record of any letters and phone calls you receive after sending the letter, which will be helpful if you sue the debt collector.

If you have sent the above letters and the contact persists, contact the Titus Law Firm immediately. You may have a case against the debt collector for violating Federal Law and, if you followed the above playbook, you may collect from the collector for egregious conduct.

3. Set Firm Boundaries On Contact. If you do not want to completely stop all the communications from a debt collector, know that you can simply request them to contact you in a specific way. If you are getting collection calls on your phone, these calls are probably being made by an auto dialer. You can stop receiving such calls by clearly telling a live operator:

“Please do not call me at this number.”

It does not matter if it is a collection agency or even the original creditor, they must stop calling you if you request that they stop. If the calls are at work or are otherwise inconvenient, you simply say:

“I am not allowed to receive this type of call at work. Please stop calling me at work.”

“Please don’t call me before noon. Morning calls are not convenient.”

“Please don’t call me at [phone number]. This location is not convenient.”

Alternatively, you can tell a collector exactly when and how you would like to be contacted. For example:

“Please only contact me at [phone number] after [time]. Calls at other times and numbers are not convenient.”

The creditor has no choice but to follow your requests to contact you as specified. If they fail to do so, they may be violating the FDCPA.

4. My Income Is Exempt Letter. If your only sources of income are state or federal government benefits, your income may be “exempt” or protected from collection. If you inform the collector that government benefits are your only source of income, the collector may voluntarily stop contacting you about the alleged debt.

You can inform collectors over the phone if all of your income is exempt, and you can also send a letter like this one,

[Your name]

[Your return address]

[Date]

[Debt collector name]

[Debt collector address]

Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]

Dear [Debt collector name],

I am responding to your contact about an alleged debt you are attempting to collect. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date]. You identified the alleged debt as [any information they gave you about the debt].

I am living on _______________/month which comes from [name of government benefit(s)]. I believe that all of my income is exempt from collection and creditors may not garnish these payments.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

You may want to ask in the letter or a separate letter that the debt collector stop contacting you or stop contact as listed above. Keep a copy of any letters that you send. It is best to send the letter by mail, return receipt requested.

5. The Verification Letter. Often it is not even clear what debt a collector is calling you about, and in that case you should never pay the collector, at least not until you obtain more information. Federal law gives you the right to obtain a verification of a debt from a third-party collector if you send a letter within thirty days of receiving the first written notice from the third-party collector. However, if you have questions, you can still send a verification letter even after the thirty-day period has passed. The collector may still respond.

This sample letter outlines some of the different types of information you might request about the debt—you typically do not need to ask for all this information.

[Your name]

[Your return address]

[Date]

[Debt collector name]

[Debt collector address]

Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]

Dear [Debt collector name]:

I am responding to your contact about an alleged debt you are trying to collect. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date] and identified the alleged debt as [any information they gave you about the debt].

Please supply the information below so that I can be fully informed about the alleged debt:

Why you think I owe the debt and to whom I owe it, including:

  • The name and address of the creditor to whom the alleged debt is currently owed.
  • The name and address of the original creditor and any other names used.
  • A copy of the original contract or other agreement.
  • The name of any other person that is or was required to pay the alleged debt.
  • The amount and age of the debt, including:
  • Provide a copy of the last billing statement sent to me by the original creditor.
  • State the amount of the alleged debt when you obtained it.
  • State the date when you obtained the alleged debt.
  • Provide an itemized list of any alleged interest, fees, or charges since the last billing statement from the original creditor.
  • Provide a copy of any agreement expressly authorizing such interest, fees, or additional charges.
  • Provide an itemization showing any payments since the last billing statement from the original creditor.
  • State when the creditor claims this debt became due and when it became delinquent.
  • Identify the date of the last payment made on this account.
  • State when you think the statute of limitations expires for this debt, and how you determined that.
  • Details about your authority to collect this debt, including:
  • Provide the number of any license to collect debt in [insert name of the state where you live] and the name of the issuing agency.
  • Provide the number of any license to collect debt in the state where you are located and the name of the issuing agency.

Please treat this debt as disputed until you provide the information requested.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Keep a copy of any letters that you send. It is best to send the letter by mail, return receipt requested.

6. The Dispute Letter. If you do not think the debt is yours, you should send the collector a dispute letter. Collectors make a lot of mistakes and disputing the debt may resolve the matter. The letter also stops collection contacts until they send you more information verifying the debt. Here is a sample letter:

[Your name]

[Your return address]

[Date]

[Debt collector name]

[Debt collector address]

Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]

Dear [Debt collector name],

I am responding to your contact about collecting an alleged debt. You contacted me by [phone/mail], on [date] and identified the alleged debt as [any information they gave you about the debt]. I do not have any responsibility for the debt you’re trying to collect.

Record that I dispute having any obligation for this debt. If you stop your collection of this debt, and forward or return it to another company, please indicate to them that it is disputed. If you report it to a credit bureau (or have already done so), also report that the debt is disputed.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Keep a copy of any letters that you send. It is best to send the letter by mail, return receipt requested. Let them know that you are aware that they are violating the federal law by continuing to contact you.

If you have any questions about the above letters, or other debt collector behavior questions, do not hesitate to reach out to Titus Connors, LLC to discuss your options. You have rights and you should not suffer through collection harassment or annoyance without exercising your rights.

The above provided letters are from the National Consumer Law Center website and are available for free online at https://library.nclc.org/surviving-debt-links. The NCLC current offers a manual for consumers called Surviving Debt that is currently free during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCLC is the greatest resource for all your debt related questions.

Titus Law Firm, LLC

Attorneys at Titus Law have obtained successful judgments for
clients in over one hundred counties in Kansas and Missouri.
Call Us Now - (913) 543-4500

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