If you’re getting hounded by a debt collector, a cease and desist can be a powerful tool to get the harassment to stop. Writing a formal cease and desist that you send by physical mail means a collector is required by federal law to stop all contact.

Know This:

  • Federal law requires collectors to stop contacting you once you send a written cease and desist letter
  • Once you send the letter all contact should stop; the only thing the collector can do is sue you in civil court
  • This can be a good way to stop collector harassment and end calls for debts that aren’t yours or are past the statute of limitations

Once you send a cease and desist, you have a right to sue the collector for harassment if they continue contacting you.

Table of contents:

What is a cease and desist letter?

A cease and desist letter is a way to formally request that a debt collector stop contacting you about a debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) states that if you formally request that you no longer wish to be contacted by a collector, they must cease all further contact.

This does not mean that the debt collector’s attempts to collect will stop entirely. Doing this means that suing you in civil court will be the only avenue left. They can take you to court, assuming that the debt was actually yours to pay and the statute of limitations hasn’t expired.

There are several good reasons why you may decide to send a cease and desist:

  1. The collector has you confused with another consumer and is harassing you about a debt you don’t owe.
  2. The statute of limitations has expired, the collector can no longer sue you in court, and you want them to go away.
  3. The collector fails to verify the debt when you request them to validate it.
  4. You owe the debt in collections, but you don’t want to deal with them directly; this forces them to take you to court.

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Cease and desist letter templates

Debt.com has two free cease and desist templates that you can use. The first one simply requests them to cease all contact. The second template explains that they are contacting the wrong person for collections on that account. Use the second letter if a collection agency has you confused with someone else. Use the first cease and desist sample for all other cease-order requests.

Cease and desist letter sample 1: General request to stop all contact

This first template can be used for all general requests to stop collector harassment. It doesn’t specify the reason for the cease request. It just tells them to stop.

Date

[your name] [address] [debt collector] [debt collector’s address]

Re: [your name and debt collector’s account number(s) for your debt(s)]

Dear [debt collector]:

Pursuant to my rights under the state and federal fair debt collection laws, I hereby request that you immediately cease all written and oral contact with me, and my family and friends, concerning any and all alleged debts you contend I owe.

My employer prohibits me from receiving your calls or letters at work, and such contacts are embarrassing and inconvenient for me. Therefore, please also 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 a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the [your state] Attorney General’s office and civil claims may be pursued.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Download a free copy of this ceases and desist template now »

Cease and desist letter sample 2: Not the right contact for collection

This second template specifically addresses issues of mistaken identity by a debt collector. Collectors often don’t have complete information about the defaulted debts they purchase. They attempt to hunt down the right person, but they don’t always get it right. They may have you confused with another person with a similar name or they could be looking for the previous owner or tenant at your address. Whatever the case, this cease and desist template will help stop the collection calls.

Date

[your name] [address] [debt collector] [debt collector’s address]

Re: [your name and debt collector’s account number(s) for your debt(s)]

Dear [debt collector]:

Pursuant to my rights under the state and federal fair debt collection laws, I hereby request that you immediately cease all calls to [your phone number] in relation to the account of [wrong person’s full name].  This is the wrong number to contact that person.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the [your state] Attorney General’s office and civil claims may be pursued.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Download a free copy of this ceases and desist template now »

The best way to write and send a cease and desist

Step 1: Gather the documentation you need to write your letter

To fill in the free cease and desist letter templates, you will need:

  1. Debt collector’s business name and physical address
  2. The account numbers listed in the collection notices

You can find the information about the debt collector on any correspondence that they’ve sent you. If you can’t find any physical letter, but they’ve been calling you, either look up the company online or call them to verify their address.

Make sure to only include the information that the collector has already provided. Do not include original account numbers unless the collector included them in their correspondence to you.

Providing more information than the collector can potentially give them more ammunition to fight you in court. If they have incomplete records, they may not be able to win a case against you. So, you don’t want to give them information that can later be used against you.

TIP: Be careful when you speak with an agent from the debt collection company. If you say something that acknowledges that you owe the debt, you can reset the clock on the statute of limitations. That gives them more time to continue harassing you. If you call for their address, make sure the conversation is short and focused on them giving you their information only.

Step 2: Choose and edit the correct cease and desist template

Click the links above to download and open the appropriate document that best fits your situation. Then replace any information that appears in brackets with your information. If there’s something else you want to add because you think you need to clarify something for your specific case, add additional sentences as needed. Just be careful to limit what you say to avoid any official acknowledgment of the debt.

TIP: Cease and desist letters are designed to be formal, clear, and concise.

Step 3: Send your letter

Experts recommend sending the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. This costs slightly more than started posted. However, you will receive official notification of when the collector received the letter. This can come in handy later if you end up filing a complaint or suing the collector in court if they continue to contact you.

Cost for certified mail, return receipt requested: $4.80 for an electronic return receipt, $6.80 for a physical return receipt

What happens next?

In a best-case scenario, nothing. If you use certified mail with return receipt requested, then you should receive the return receipt within 3-10 business days. However, that should be the last contact that you have. The collector is now legally required to stop all contact, so they can’t contact you to let you know they’re stopping. They just stop and you no longer need to worry about those collection calls.

If the debt is past the statute of limitations when you send the cease and desist, the matter should be closed. On the other hand, if the debt is not past that statute, then the collector still has a right to sue you in civil court. You should be on the lookout for a civil court summons.

If the collector does not cease all contact and you continue to receive calls, file a debt collection complaint with the CFPB and your State Attorney General’s office. You can also decide if you wish to sue the collector in civil court for collector harassment.

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Article last modified on July 27, 2020. Published by Debt.com, LLC