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Stop Debt Collectors With a Cease and Desist Letter (+ Template)

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In a Nutshell

A cease and desist letter is a formal written request that you send a debt collector telling them to stop contacting you about a debt. Once the debt collector receives a cease and desist letter, they must stop further contact save for one final call to tell you what actions they intend to take. While sending a cease and desist letter is a good way to stop debt collectors from harassing you, it doesn’t make your debt disappear. If the debt is valid, the debt collector may choose to take legal action to recover the debt.

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated September 19, 2023


What Is a Cease and Desist Letter for Debt Collection?

A cease and desist letter is a tool you can use to tell debt collectors to stop contacting you about a debt. Once the debt collector receives a cease and desist letter, they must stop further contact, including collection calls and demand letters. 

There’s one exception though: The debt collector can make one final phone call or send one final notice. In this notice, they may:

  • Tell you that there will be no further contact

  • Tell you about any further action(s) they intend to take or are legally allowed to take (including filing a debt collection lawsuit against you

  • Make an offer to settle the debt for less than you owe 

When Should You Send a Cease and Desist Letter?

If and when you decide to send a cease and desist letter is up to you. If you’re being repeatedly contacted about a debt and don’t wish to speak to or negotiate with the debt collector, a cease and desist letter will stop those collection calls. Just make sure you’re prepared for the potential consequences, such as a debt collection lawsuit.

If you’re contacted about an old debt that’s past the statute of limitations, you can send a cease and desist letter to stop debt collector contact. Debt collectors can still sue you, even after the statute of limitations has passed. In this case, it’s your job to respond to the lawsuit and tell the court that the debt is time-barred

Collection agencies can’t threaten to sue you for a debt that they know is past the statute of limitations. In spite of this, they may be particularly aggressive in contacting you about these debts because they have no other available remedies.

If you’ve been incorrectly identified by the debt collector and told them this on the phone but they haven’t stopped contacting you, a cease and desist letter can also be helpful.

In some instances, you may not want to send a cease and desist letter. For example, if you were contacted about a debt that you don’t believe is valid, you may want to consider writing a debt verification letter before you send a cease and desist letter. 

The debt verification letter will help you gather information to dispute the debt. If you send it within 30 days of getting the debt collector’s debt validation letter, the debt collector can’t continue with collection efforts until the debt is verified.

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What Should You Include (and Leave Out of) a Cease and Desist Letter?

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a law that addresses unfair debt collection practices. Under the FDCPA, creditor harassment is illegal. If a debt collector continues to contact you after receiving a cease and desist letter, they are violating the FDCPA.

To best protect your rights under the FDCPA:

  • Make your request in writing.

  • Make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records.

  • Send the letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested.

  • Write a letter for each individual debt you no longer want to be contacted about (even if the debts originated from the same creditor or are held by the same debt collector).

  • Don’t offer additional information on the account. Just include the information (account numbers, account balances, etc.) that the collection agency has already provided in the debt validation notice or other correspondence.

  • Don’t acknowledge that you owe the debt. Refer to the debt as the “alleged debt.” If you acknowledge that you owe the debt, you may reset the timeline for the statute of limitations depending on your state’s laws.

What Is the FDCPA and How Does It Protect You?

The FDCPA is a federal law that protects consumers against harassment, deception, and unfair treatment by third-party debt collectors. 

Importantly, this law does not apply to original creditors. This means that the information in this article regarding cease and desist letters also does not apply if your debt is still with the original creditor. 

The FDCPA also only applies to personal debts (also called consumer debts), including credit card debt, auto loans, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other household debts. It doesn’t apply to business debts.

Cease and Desist Letter Template — General Demand To Stop All Contact

Use the following template to request that a debt collector stop all communication.

Date

[your name]

[your address]

[city, state, zip code]

[debt collector's name]

[debt collector's address]

[debt collector's city, state, zip code]

Re: [debt collector's account number(s) for the debt(s)]

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to my rights under the state and federal debt collection laws, including the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), I hereby request that you immediately cease and desist all oral and written communication with me, along with my family and friends, regarding any and all alleged debts you maintain I owe.

Additionally, my employer prohibits me from receiving your calls or written correspondence at work, so please refrain from contacting my workplace in any manner as well.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the [your state] Attorney General's Office, and other appropriate regulatory bodies. Civil claims may be pursued.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

[your signature and printed name]

Cease and Desist Letter Template — Request To Stop Contact Due to an Incorrect or Mistaken Identity

If you’ve mistakenly received a debt collector letter that was intended for someone else, you can use this template to inform the debt collector and cease further contact.

Date

[your name]

[your address]

[city, state, zip code]

[debt collector's name]

[debt collector's address]

[debt collector's city, state, zip code]

Re: [debt collector's account number(s) for the debt(s)]

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to my rights under the state and federal debt collection laws, including the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), I hereby request that you immediately cease and desist all calls as well as oral and written contact to [your phone number and address] regarding the account of [wrong person's full name]. This is the wrong contact information for that person.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the [your state] Attorney General's Office, and other appropriate regulatory bodies. Civil claims may be pursued.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

[your signature and printed name]

What Happens After You Send a Cease and Desist Letter to a Debt Collector?

After receiving your cease and desist letter, the debt collection company should cease communication. If the debt collector contacts you, they are violating the FDCPA, and this may be considered harassment. You can file a complaint with the CFPB and/or sue the debt collector.

It’s important to keep in mind that sending a cease and desist letter doesn’t erase your debt or mean you’re no longer responsible for repaying it if the debt is valid.

In fact, if the debt is valid, the collection agency may opt to sue you since it can no longer contact you to try to collect the debt in another way. 

If the agency does sue you, make sure that you answer the summons and complaint so the court doesn’t award the debt collector a default judgment. With a court judgment, the collection agency may be able to garnish your wages or bank account.

Let’s Summarize…

Under the FDCPA, consumers are protected from debt collector harassment. You have the right to ask a debt collection agency to stop contacting you even if you owe the debt. If the debt collector continues to contact you after you send a cease and desist letter, they are violating federal law.



Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

Attorney Paige Hooper

LinkedIn

Paige Hooper is a seasoned consumer bankruptcy attorney with 15 years of experience successfully representing debtors in Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 cases. Paige began practicing bankruptcy law in 2006 and started her own solo, multi-state bankruptcy practice in 2012. Gi... read more about Attorney Paige Hooper

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