Stopping Creditor Harassment

How can I stop from being harassed?

Federal law prohibits unreasonable harassment by collection agencies or attorneys. For example, they may not contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you give your permission. They also may not use obscene or profane language, call you constantly to annoy you or, in most cases, call third parties, such as relatives, neighbors or employers.

If you are being harassed, follow these steps

  • Head off harassment before it starts. When financial setbacks prevent you from paying all of your bills, call a Debt Settlement Company for help. If they cannot help, contact the creditor and explain your situation. For example, say that you have to pay the landlord and utilities first, and that you will pay your other bills when you can. Don’t over promise: it’s better to be realistic about your prospects for paying. By contacting the creditor first, you may avoid having the debt turned over to a collection agency, which will usually be less flexible than the creditor in working out a payment plan. If you decide to work out a payment plan, you should only agree to a realistic plan, preferably one that significantly reduces the debt–otherwise your payments may not even cover monthly interest charges and will never pay down the principal. Also, don’t promise payments that would prevent you from paying critical expenses such as your rent or food.
  • Write a cease & desist letter. If explaining the situation doesn’t stop collection efforts, the simplest way to stop contacts is to write the collector a cease & desist letter. Federal Law requires collection agencies to stop contacts with you after they receive a written request to stop. It’s a good idea to include in the letter why you can’t pay right now and what your expectations are for the future, though this is not necessary. You should also note in the letter any billing errors and/or abusive tactics debt collectors have used in their contacts with you. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter for your records.
  • Complain about billing errors. Collection letters are sometimes wrong. If a letter contains a mistake, you should write and request a correction (and keep a copy of your request). If you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of your receiving notice of the right to dispute, the collection agency must stop collection efforts while it investigates. If the account is an open end account, like a credit card, you can dispute a charge within 60 days of receiving the bill.
  • Complain to a government agency. For creditor harassment, or if a debt collector keeps harassing you, or calls third parties after you send a cease letter, file a complaint you have about a collector’s conduct to the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Credit Practices, Washington, D.C. 20580. You may also call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or get a complaint form from their website: Here is an example of a complaint letter.