Creditor Harassment Tips

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What Should One Say in a Cease and Desist Letter?

Cease and Desist Letter Language

While there are no absolute requirements related to words, phrases or sentences, these collection agency harassment communications should be brief, concise and specific. Please see the two examples that follow to get an idea of how your communication might be worded. Below is a sample of a cease and desist letter .

(Sent via Certified Mail with Return Receipt to protect the debtor)


Collection Agency


City, State ZIP

Re: Account #

Pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. section 805. you are hereby notified to cease and desist all further communication with me in regard to the referenced debt.

Failure to abide by this law will result in a complaint being filed against you with the Federal Trade Commission, the Attorneys General of both your state and mine, and also your own company management. I also reserve the right to file suit against you for any future violations of this law. I will record any phone calls if you fail to comply with this cease and desist.

Should you believe a collector is guilty of creditor harassment via e-mail, the format that follows should stop their overly aggressive collection activity. Send this with a "Receipt Requested" and print a copy for your files with evidence of the e-mail receipt.

Dear Collector,

I am responding to your constant emails! In accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I demand that you:

Stop emailing me at home, at work, or any other location!

In accordance with federal law, once you've received this email, you may only contact me to:

  • Provide proof that I owe the debt that you claim I owe;
  • Provide a copy of my State and Federal rights concerning this debt, including how to dispute your claim;
  • Provide proof that you are licensed in my state and show evidence of your license number;
  • Advise me that further efforts are being terminated;
  • Notify me that you may or intend to invoke specified remedies.
Be advised that I am keeping accurate records of all correspondence concerning this issue, including copies of your emails. If you continue harassing me, you will be in violation of the FDCA, Section 805(c).

Can a Collector Use E-mail or Faxes to Harass Me?

Using E-mail or Faxes to Collect or Harass

The Fair Debt Collection Act does not specifically address the issue of using emails as a collection tool. But courts have held that the use of e-mail is an appropriate collection tool. Still, all collectors must adhere to the same guidelines as those that apply to the use of snail mail. Also, if sent to your workplace, emails must cease if you advise the collector that your employer prohibits debt collection contact. Additionally, should your employer have a published policy that states “e-mail is not confidential and may be viewed by authorized employees,” emails sent to the debtor's workplace are a violation of debtor rights simply by their existence. You have the right to send an e-mail to the collection entity that you believe is in violation of the FDCA to advise them to stop sending correspondence immediately. Collectors are permitted to contact you via fax per the FDCA, but, once again, they can only do so within the stated parameters of the regulation. A fax sent to your office to a communal fax machine or to an employer's workplace that prohibits debt collection contact is a violation of the Act.

If I Am a Victim of Creditor Harassment, What Can I Do?

Creditor Harassment Victim's Rights

The easiest and often most effective action you can take is to simply ask the creditor stop calling you. You may have to “remind” the caller that the firm has violated one or more provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Act, but the calls should cease. Should you be dealing with a collection agency and not your original creditor, you may also create and send your own “Cease and Desist” letter to stop their debt collection harassment. Always send a cease and desist letter by certified mail – return receipt requested so you'll have proof of its receipt. Also, make every attempt to send this letter to a physical address of the collection company, not a post office box.

You can report harassment problems to your state's Attorney General's office, the Federal Trade Commission, the American Collectors Association or your local State Bar Association. Should problems persist, you have the right to sue a collector in either state or federal court within one year from the date of the violation. If you are successful, you are eligible to recover money for damages, court and attorney costs, plus an additional amount up to $1,000.

What Tactics Are Collectors Legally Prohibited From Using?

Prohibited Tactics Of Collectors Legally

The Fair Debt Collection Act specifies the rights of both creditors and debtors. If you have been subjected to any of the actions noted below, you are the victim of creditor harassment per the FDCA regulations. Collectors are prohibited from -

  • Calling before 8 am or after 9 pm or constantly using the telephone to harass you.
  • Depositing a post-dated check prematurely.
  • Using profane language.
  • Giving false information of any type concerning your account to anyone else.
  • Stating they are attorneys or work for one of the credit bureaus.
  • Suggesting or implying that you have committed a crime.
  • Telling you that you owe more than your true debt balance.
  • Labeling forms or letters sent to you as though were from a court or government agency.
  • Convincing you to pay amounts greater or less than debt amount in settlement of the balance.
  • Threatening to take your property (without a legal foreclosure process).
  • Attempting to contact you via postcard or with transparent envelopes.
Remember, your creditors are also protected under the Act and have debt collection rights to take all legal actions available to collect the balance you owe them.

How Do I Know If I'm Being Illegally Harassed?

Are You Being Illegally Harassed

It is unlikely that you will become an “expert” in all the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Act or the many variations of debt collection harassment. But you should become familiar with the most common violations committed by collectors:

  • Calling before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm;
  • Contacting you at work after they have been advised not to;
  • Contacting your friends or family and giving them information about your account;
  • Threatening to take your home or evict you immediately.
There are also collection tactics and threats that are less common and overlooked by potential victims. Below is a partial list of these practices, which are classified as violating both the spirit and the letter of the law.

A creditor or 3rd party collection firm is prohibited from:

  • Threatening arrest or imprisonment for a criminal act because you have late payments on a debt;
  • Contacting the Department of Homeland Security about your citizen/alien status;
  • Selling your account to another company (which they often also own) just prior to being barred from collecting because time has run out for the purpose of continuing collection activities;
  • Threatening to call you "everyday until your account is paid in full;"
  • Reporting your vehicle as a "stolen" car because you missed one or more of your auto loan payments;
  • Filing (or even threatening to file) criminal NSF (not sufficient funds) charges against you for a post dated check that the collection agency asked you to send to them;
  • Representing himself/herself as an attorney when, in fact, he/she is not;
  • Making any threats targeted or phrased to “demoralize, degrade, embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate” you into making payments on your debt.
Finally, even if you become knowledgeable, you should know that the Fair Debt Collection Act subscribes to the “ Least Sophisticated Consumer Standard” for judging potential violations. This means that, even though you would never believe one or more of the threats noted above, if the court believes that anyone (not everyone) anywhere might believe that they could be arrested and jailed for having late payments on a $325.00 credit card balance, you have an excellent chance of winning a suit against an over aggressive collector.

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