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Stop Debt Collectors With a Cease and Desist Letter

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In a Nutshell

You have the right to demand that a third-party debt collector stop communicating with you about your debt. It’s important that you make this demand to cease communication in writing so that you have proof of your efforts. This article explains how to write a cease and desist letter that tells a debt collection agency not to contact you anymore. It includes a sample cease and desist letter for easy reference.

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2021


If you’re behind on your credit card payments, medical bills, or even your car loan, you may be receiving seemingly endless calls and letters from debt collectors. You have the right to demand that a third-party debt collector stop communicating with you about your debt. It’s important that you make this demand to cease communication in writing so that you have proof of it. 

This article will explain how to write a cease and desist letter that tells a debt collection agency not to contact you anymore. It includes a sample cease and desist letter for easy reference.

What Is a Cease and Desist Letter?

A cease and desist letter is a formal request that you send a debt collector to stop contacting you about a debt. This contact includes collection calls and demand letters.If you make this request over the phone, it won’t be official or binding. Unless you record this phone call, your phone request will be more difficult to prove than if it were made in writing. That’s why it’s important to write a letter.

Include your contact information and send this letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested so that you know if and when the creditor receives your letter. Once the debt collector receives a cease and desist letter, it must stop all further contact unless the law permits otherwise.  

For example, a debt collector can contact you one more time:

  • To advise you that it’s terminating further efforts to collect on the debt.

  • To notify you that it may use specific remedies ordinarily used by a debt collector or creditor to collect your debt.

  • To notify you that it intends to use a specific remedy, such as a debt collection lawsuit.

Essentially, the debt collector gets one final call to tell you what further actions it intends to take. It may offer to settle your debt for a smaller amount during this conversation, so it might be wise to accept this final call. 

Just because a debt collector can’t lawfully contact you anymore doesn’t mean that you’re no longer responsible for the debt. Keep in mind that at this point, the debt collector’s only remaining option is to sue you to recover the debt. If it does, you’ll only know when you receive a copy of the summons and complaint.

A cease and desist letter only applies to one particular debt and the debt collector trying to collect it. If more than one creditor is harassing you for more than one debt, you will need to send each one a cease and desist letter. Even if the same creditor is trying to collect two different debts from you, you must write a letter for each of the two debts. 

FDCPA Protections for Borrowers

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that was passed to address abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. It’s enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and provides consumers with specific rights against debt collectors. The law doesn’t apply to original creditors’ (the lender who gave you the loan or credit) debt collection activities. It only applies to third-party debt collectors.

The FDCPA also only applies to personal, consumer debts, including credit card debt, auto loans, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other household debts. If a debt collector doesn’t respect your demand to stop communicating with you, they are violating the FDCPA.

When Should You Use This Template To Communicate with Collection Agencies?

A cease and desist letter can help you with a debt collector in several ways. First, even if you owe the debt, you may not wish to deal with the debt collector directly. As mentioned, this may leave the debt collector with no other recourse but to sue you in court.

Another situation where a cease and desist letter is useful is when the statute of limitations has expired and the debt collector can no longer sue you. You can also use this letter if a debt collector fails to verify the debt after you send it a legitimate request for validation of the debt

Finally, a cease and desist letter can be useful when a debt collector has mistaken you for a different person (see Template #2 below). 

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How To Use a Cease and Desist Letter

When you write a cease and desist letter include only the information (account numbers, account balances, etc.) that the debt collector has already provided in its communications. Don’t use the debt’s original account number unless the debt collector has included it in its correspondence with you. Providing the debt collector with more information than it already has, may give them something to use against you in court if they sue.

Do NOT acknowledge that you owe the debt either in the cease and desist letter or during any phone conversations with the debt collector. Always refer to the debt in any communications as the “alleged debt.” If you acknowledge that you owe the debt, you may reset the timeline for the statute of limitations.

If you need to call the debt collector for information, keep the phone call brief and to the point. Get the information you need, but don’t give them additional information. After drafting the cease and desist letter, send it to the debt collector via certified mail, with a return receipt requested. Be sure to keep the receipt and the letter for your records. You’ll also want to keep a copy of any other correspondence the debt collector sends or record other contact it makes.

Template 1: General Demand To Stop All Contact

Use the following template to request that a debt collector stop all communication. This is for all cases except if you’ve been incorrectly identified as the debtor or there’s a case of mistaken identity (called an incorrect contactee). In that case, use Template 2.

CEASE AND DESIST LETTER #1

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 fair 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 name]

Template 2: Request To Stop Contact Due to an Incorrect or Mistaken Identity

Use this template for misidentification cases wherein the debt collector has sent the collection letter to you, an incorrect contactee, rather than the proper party.

CEASE AND DESIST LETTER #2

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 fair 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 name]

After You Send a Cease and Desist Letter

After sending a cease and desist letter, it’s important to monitor this debt on your credit report. Nothing more should happen if the statute of limitations for the debt has passed since the creditor can’t sue in court. But if the statute of limitations has not run, the debt collector may sue you. If they do, make sure that you answer the summons and complaint so the court doesn’t award the debt collector a default judgment. If the debt collector continues to contact you, follow through and file a debt collection complaint with FTC, CFPB, and your state's attorney general's office.

Let’s Summarize…

The FDCPA gives all consumers rights against debt collectors. You have the right to ask a creditor to stop contacting you even if you owe the debt. If a debt collector continues to contact you even after you send a cease and desist letter, file a debt collection complaint with FTC, CFPB, and your state's attorney general's office. Consult an attorney if you need legal advice about a creditor’s possible FDCPA violations. The statute awards attorney’s fees for individuals who bring successful claims for violations under the statute. You can also speak with an attorney about credit repair and filing for bankruptcy.



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 Andrea Wimmer

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Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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