If threatening letters and phone calls from debt collectors are stressing you out, you don’t have to resign yourself to dealing with the communications until you pay off your debt. As a consumer, you have rights. And if a debt collector is going too far, you can demand that they stop contacting you. This is typically done through a tool called a “cease and desist” letter.
What is a Cease and Desist Letter?
Also called a “demand letter,” a cease and desist, or c&d, is a communication sent to a creditor with a specific request: that the creditor cease and desist all direct communication with you immediately.
Choosing to write a c&d may be overwhelming at first, but in many cases, it’s one of the best ways to avoid distressing contact from debt collectors. Here are a few guidelines on when, and how, to write a c&d to get your harassing creditors off your back while you work on repaying your debt.
When should I send One?
You should consider sending a c&d (or asking your attorney to send one on your behalf) if the debt collector:
- Is calling you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
- Has contacted you at work after you specifically asked him or her to stop calling you at your office.
- Has discussed your debt with people other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.
- Ever uses obscene or profane language while speaking with you.
- Has otherwise attempted to aggressively intimidate you.
- Has threatened to take your property without a legal basis.
- Has threatened to arrest you.
- Garnished your federal benefits, like Social Security, Veteran Benefits, or Military Benefits.
Even if you choose not to write a c&d yourself, contact an attorney immediately if a debt collector has taken any of these actions.
How do I write One?
Fortunately, you don’t need to include any fancy legalese in your c&d. The key is to keep your language plain and simple, easy to read and easy to understand. Most importantly, make sure you are clearly and unambiguously communicating your desire for the creditors to STOP contacting you directly. If you have an attorney or other representative, you may direct the creditor to contact that individual instead.
What does my Letter need to Include?
When you send a c&d, include:
- Your name
- Your address
- The date
The Debt Collector’s Information
- The debt collector’s name
- The debt collector’s address
- The account number for your specific debt
A Letter Body
- A salutation
- Your specific request, as well as the reason(s) why you are making that request
- The action(s) you intend to take should the debt collector fail to comply with your request
- A time limit for compliance (typically 10-15 days)
- If applicable in your case, the name and contact information of any individual(s) who are representing you and whom the debt collector should contact moving forward
- A closing
- Your signature
September 1, 2020
4700 Maple Avenue
New York, New York
Determined Debt Collectors, Inc.
800 10th St.
San Francisco, CA
Account #: 123456789
To Whom It May Concern:
By way of this letter, I am demanding that you and your company immediately cease and desist any and all contact and communication with me regarding the above-captioned debt. Per your correspondence sent on August 1, 2020, you claim that I owe a debt in the amount of $25,000.
Per the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692, I demand that you immediately cease all further contact with me regarding this account. Further contact includes, but is not limited to, communication via telephone, electronic mail, or mail correspondence. Your actions in collecting this debt have been harassing and aggressive, causing me emotional distress.
If you do not cease communication with me regarding this debt, other than to notify me that you have received this correspondence and will cease all communication, I will lodge a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and/or the New York Attorney General’s Office. I also intend to pursue legal action against your company.
If within ten (10) business days I have not received any notification from you or your company that you will cease all communications with me, I will pursue legal action and lodge my complaints.
Writing Your Letter
If at any point in your debt relief journey you feel you need help crafting a letter to your creditors or would like to engage a representative on your behalf, do not hesitate to contact an attorney for guidance.