How do I get a debt collector to stop calling or contacting me?
You have the right to tell a debt collector to stop contacting you. If you ask a debt collector to stop all contact – regardless of the communications channel – the collector must stop. Keep in mind, though, that you may still owe the debt.
If you don't want a debt collector to contact you again, write a letter to the debt collector saying so. We have sample letters that you can use to respond to a debt collector who is trying to collect a debt.
The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule requires debt collectors to provide certain information when they first communicate with you, or shortly after, which will often be contained in a letter called a validation notice. This notice includes information about the debt and the debt collector, as well as a “tear off” form with checkboxes you can fill out to dispute or request more information about the debt. If the debt collector provides a way for you to submit the letter electronically, you can do that instead of sending a letter by mail.
Once a debt collector receives your letter requesting they stop contacting you, they’re not allowed to communicate with you again except to:
- Tell you there will be no further contact
- Advise you that they or the creditor may take other specific actions they’re legally allowed to take, such as filing a lawsuit against you
Keep in mind that it’s important that you respond to the debt collector in writing, even if they provide the validation information over the phone or through email. If you’re disputing the debt, it’s also important to do it immediately, even before you insist that they stop contacting you.
Debt collectors may still collect even if they can’t contact you
Stopping communication with a debt collector doesn’t make the debt go away. In fact, they may find alternative ways to collect it from you. For example, they can file a lawsuit against you or report negative information to a credit reporting company, although that won’t always happen.
If you believe you don’t owe the debt or it isn’t accurate, you can write to tell the debt collector to provide further evidence. If you notify the debt collector in writing that you dispute the debt within 30 days of receiving a validation notice, the debt collector must stop trying to collect the debt until they’ve provided you with verification in response to your dispute.
You may also have questions about whether they are collecting a debt that isn’t yours or trying to collect an improper amount, and you can consider consulting an attorney that specializes in these types of cases to learn more about your rights and options.
Keep good records of your communications with a debt collector
If you’re being contacted by a debt collector, it’s important to keep a record of any letters, documents, or communications they send to you. Write down dates and times of conversations, along with notes about what you discussed. These records can help you if you’re disputing the debt, meeting with a lawyer, or going to court.
If you send the debt collector a letter, make a copy and send the original to the debt collector. It’s also generally a good idea to send the letter by certified mail. If you pay for a "return receipt," you also will have proof the debt collector received your letter. You may also send the letter electronically. Just be sure to keep a copy.
Also, be careful what you say to a debt collector because they will keep records as well. They can track any information you provide, including personal information or if you apologize or admit to owing the debt. Those statements could be used against you.
What to do if a debt collector is violating the law
If the collector continues to contact you after receiving a written notice to stop or after you’ve told them you have a lawyer and have provided the lawyer’s contact information, they are likely violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
You can sue the debt collector for violating the FDCPA. If you sue under the FDCPA and win, the debt collector must generally pay your attorney's fees and may also have to pay you damages.
If you're having trouble with debt collection, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.