The people creditors hire to do the dirty work of collecting on debts can be the most irritating and persistent bullies you'll be forced to deal with. Many consumers are not aware that Congressional law exists to protect them against the nasty business practices adopted by some of these bill collectors. As a matter of fact, this law has been on the books since 1977. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA is an important tool for consumers to rely upon when fending off debt collectors who act like bullies.
So you're sick of dealing with bill collectors and you want them to take a hint. How can you use the FDCPA to get the bill collectors to back off? One effective solution available to you under FDCPA is to write what is known as a cease and desist letter. Cease and desist letters are a wonderful tool against debt collectors, just keep in mind that there is a distinction between creditors and debt collectors. FDCPA protections like the cease and desist letter don't apply to the actual entities to whom you owe money; instead, they are intended to protect you from those third parties who make their living badgering borrowers.
What can a cease and desist letter do for you? Basically, the letter orders bill collectors to cease and desist their pestering. Once you've written a cease and desist letter, the bill collector is not legally allowed to communicate with you in any way, except for a few exceptions. Specifically, they can't call you or write to you anymore, except to let you know if the efforts to collect on the debt are being suspended, or to let you know of imminent and specific action from the creditor or the debt collector representing him, for example, if one of these parties intends to sue you.
This brings us to a potential thorny issue related to cease and desist letters. Basically, because you are taking away one of the more effective tools debt collectors and creditors have, that is, the ability to annoy you into paying, you may prompt them to bring out the big legal guns. If they were planning to sue you, they may decide to proceed with the lawsuit more quickly, or even immediately. Thus, it is sometimes advisable to deal with bill collectors in another manner, if one is available to you. Of course, bankruptcy is one option to consider. A bankruptcy will stop the bill collectors from calling, even those not bound by the FDCPA, and can stop a lawsuit already in progress.
Writing the letter itself is not difficult. The best approach is to keep it short and simple. Make sure you send the letter through certified return mail with a return receipt, and make copies of these documents and everything you send. Keep these somewhere safe in case you need to cite them later. Once you're done with the letter, send one copy to the debt collecting agency, one to the original creditor and on to the Federal Trade Commission. Here's a basic template:
City, State, Zip
DateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Certified Mail
Return Receipt Requested
Name of Collection Agency
Collection Agency Adress
City, State Zip
Re: Account # 0000000000000000
Pursuant to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, 15 USC Â§ 1692c(c), I hereby request that you cease and desist in your communications with me regarding Account ________Â with (name of creditor). Should you fail to comply with this request, I will pursue appropriate civil and criminal sanctions under federal law.
One last thing: writing the cease and desist letter doesn't mean your debt disappears; you still owe the money, you're just exerting a little more control over your relationship to your creditors. A cease and desist letter is a temporary band-aid, and your debts will have to be dealt with eventually. A bankruptcy can be the permanent solution. It will stop the bill collectors from calling, even those not bound by the FDCPA, and can stop a lawsuit already in progress. Call a bankruptcy attorney today to find out more.
From: The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, with convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Wilson. Call (toll free) 1-888-234-4181, to set up a free, confidential debt consultation. Visit www.billsbills.com for more information.
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