How to stop calls from debt collectors

Behind in paying your bills? You might find a debt collector calling. But the law says how and when they can do that. For example, they can’t call before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while you’re at work if the collector knows that your employer doesn’t approve of the calls. Collectors may not harass you or lie when they try to collect a debt. And, if you ask them in writing to stop calling, they have to stop.

Even if a debt collector stops calling, the debt is still there, and you still need to deal with it. So, if a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to get the story. See if you can resolve it – even if you don’t think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the collector is contacting you by mistake. The collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. The notice must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money.

If you don’t want the collector to contact you again, ask for the collector’s mailing address and tell them – in writing – to stop contacting you. Keep a copy of your letter for your files. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector gets your letter, they are not allowed to contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact, and the collector can be in touch to tell you that they (or the creditor) are going to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit.

Sending a letter to a debt collector you owe money to doesn’t get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.

Learn more about dealing with debt collectors — and how you can regain control of your finances.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Fine and dandy advice but I wish you had gone to the trouble of a) explaining that the original creditor is not bound by all the rules as a "debt collector" and b) that these rules only apply to debts obtained for personal family or household, that is Consumer, purposes. This incomplete summary will only add to the confusion and nuisance complaints that creditors and commercial collectors have to face.

Yep these sorry people call saying they are the NRA And the caller ID said the NRA all WRONG, OFF WITH THEIRS HEADS

I need help correcting a mistake I made when trying to register for the do not call registry. It said to enter 3 phone numbers which I did. I misunderstood and put in 3 phone numbers of recent scammers and telemarketers. I realized after I confirmed those 3 numbers that they wanted my phone number. I called my number in but do not know how to remove these 3 numbers as they are not my numbers. The numbers are 202-154-1973 and 202-657-6869 and finally 407-368-7857. The only number I should have put in is my own phone number, apparently. That number is . Those other numbers are scammers and I do not want them calling me again. Could someone please call me and tell me what I need to do to fix my mistake?? Please!!!! Thank you for your time and assistance.

PJ - There is nothing you need to do since it does not hurt you one way or the other. You should not post your phone number on public forums. It can lead toward more unwanted phone calls. If these comments are moderated, hopefully your post will be removed or edited.

I filed a complaint against Discover Bank & Smith, Debnam,... for harassment, intimidation,threats, & bullying with the CFPB because I was getting my debts consolidated, paid down, and paid off. When I filed the complaint with the CFPB, Discover Bank & Smith,Debnam,... filed a judgement against me because I complained. I feel my rights to Free Speech and the right to petition the U.S. Government were violated because I complained to the Federal Government. Can I take legal action against Discover Bank & Smith,Debnam for violating my rights as a U.S. Citizen or should the U.S. Justice Department take Discover Bank & Smith, Debnam to court?

If you believe a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Pratices Act, you can file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. You can also contact your state Attorney General’s office.

If you have a complaint about a lawyer, you can contact your state bar association and the bar association in the lawyer's home state. This state-by-state list from the American Bar Association can help you find the association you need.

I'm having issues with up to 12 noticed a day of "checks" being sent to me to accellerate my structured settlement income from a lawsuit which is supposed to be a lifetime thing. I'm not even 50 yet, how can I stop this? I don't want some thief to figure a way to get into my income. And the One account I do have with JG Wentworth? They're sending me credit cards with my account # listed next to my name on address! How do I stop THIS? I'm not using this way of taking care of issues again... I'm trying to figure out a way to finish remodel of lake TH I bought with my Ex for $30K 20 years ago but I can't find a decent crew to do the work. That's a whole 'nuther issue until I can locate employment to Pay for divorce. I'm just trying to protect my identity from thieves right now.

This FTC article explains what to do to stop unsolicited mail, phone calls and email.

If you're getting mail you don't want from your bank, or from a company affiliated with your bank, contact the bank and tell them you don't want to get the offers.

Shortly after I received my new phone through safe link I started receiving numerous calls from debt collectors asking for the same person every time. I've been a victim of identity theft and at first thought the number used to belong to the man they kept calling for however I recently received a calk fr capitol one asking for the same man I asked her the address she had on file and she proceeded to give me the last four digits of the s s number on the account which turned put to be my daughters last four as well. Then on Monday the man calls me this is scary and who do you report this stuff too because I can seem to get anyone to take me serious but scared now that this man has my number along with everything else. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

You could contact your phone carrier and tell they you're getting calls that don't belong to you. When you get calls that aren't for you, you can tell the callers you can't help them. Don't tell them your personal information or your daughter's information.

If you have caller ID or an answering machine, you can use them to screen the calls.

Unfortunately, Caller ID is no longer a legitimate way to screen calls. It can help sometimes, but scammers are "spoofing" calls and can make the Caller ID say anything they want it to say. Just something to keep in mind. Still a good idea to not answer numbers you don't recognize and don't use the Caller ID to verify the legitimacy of a call.

I have it worked out as follows Normarly the calls are from a Private No so always ask who is calling If they ask for me by name refuse to supply the info till they identify themselves Once they do I advise them I have an App on my phone andrecord all my calls If they dont agree or ask why I remind them that if I ring most organisations they record calls for training etc I do the same also and should a dispute arise about what has been discussed I have a record of it If they still disagree I tell them to put it in writing and Hangup

You will never get anywhere like that. First, collectors are limited on what they are allowed to say to 3rd parties. By refusing to state your name they have no idea if you are the person they are looking for and cannot tell you what the call is for.

Recording your calls is always a good idea for securing your own rights. It won't stop a legitimate collection call most times.

Don't hang up on a collector. Do you know if they have your correct address on file to send a letter to? What kind of letter do you need? Do you not believe you owe the balance? If so how much do you not owe and is it fraud? Did you establish a follow up date for your next phone call? Because if you didn't the calls will continue in their normal fashion.

Help them help you.

However, the problem with that is many debt collectors call from unknown numbers and then ask you to verify yourself by using your SSN and DOB. One of the tips we're told by Identity Theft experts is to never, ever give out your SSN and DOB to a company calling you over the phone from an unknown/unrecognized number. Of course it's my believe to never give out this information to anyone calling you regardless of if the Caller ID shows it as a recognized or unrecognized number. The only time you should give out such personal information is if you initiated the call and you are for certain that the number you have called is in fact the company you do business with.

I am having issues with someone that says they are an attorney and that they work with a payday company called Cash Advance America. Which I have never heard of. I have a past due loan with a company called Castle Payday. I figured they must have changed name. The attorney?? sent me emails saying that they were going to press charges against me if I didn't pay. Fraud, deceptive practices, EFT theft, violating Federal Banking laws. It scared me so I asked how much. He said I had one hour to make a payment of $600 which needed to be sent Money gram. So I did it then he came back and said the company wouldn't accept so I needed to send $1896 and then the $600 would be refunded to me. I said I could try to send $1500 if I could get an advance so he said okay. I sent the 1500 and then he said no I had to still pay the 396 in a hour. During that hour I decided to see if I could get in touch with Castle Payday which is where I had gotten a loan and see if they were the company that he was working for. They said they were not connected with Cash Advance and I could certainly set up payments for my past due account. I called the Mike Wilson back and told him I thought he was scamming me he said they didn't know what they were doing and that I couldn't pay them I had to pay him and he was connected to them. He would call them and tell them. Boy, was I brain dead at that point. He kept telling me if I didn't pay within an hour I would call the police. So I manage to scrape up the 396 and asked for my $600 back since he told me I only owed 1896 and I paid 2496. The story changed and now I have until Monday to pay an additional $3823. He also informed me that I could not talk to anyone about these arrangement and that they had my phone tapped?? Thought you had to have a court order to tap a phone. Apparently they are involved with Red Rock Tribal Lenders. What a mess. I called Castle Rock back and had them look up my account and they said I could just make regular payments to them. Supposedly they received the $1896 only the little gal didn't know anyhing about it and no money was showing as paid on my account. Help.

These are important details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

Sounds like you got scammed by a "company" pretending to be a legitimate debt collector. Collectors cannot demand any amount of money in a short time or in a specific format like a money gram (which anyone could cash). That would be threatening, misleading, and harassing. You got scammed. Which is the reason your payments didn't show up for the real debt.

I have been receiving calls from several different numbers in Hollywood, Florida and the numbers are; 954-417-6186, 954-874-8096, 954-874-8174, 954-417-7123, 954-874-8128. Who ever is calling they have a recording and it says; "This ERC, please hold line for next representative". I have no business or dealing with Hollywood, Florida Business in no way possible. My bills are in North Carolina and Tennessee. Those bills are paid and I owe nothing. These numbers are aggravating and irritating. They will call around 8:00 AM or 12:00 Noon, or 4:00 PM and no more until the next day. It is irritating to me. Who are these people and what are their aim and trying to accomplished. I do not answer the phone or give pout any information. I do keep up with the times they called and delete the numbers. I reported them to the "Do not call registry". They continue to call. I am learning how to ignore them completely. I do not answer telephone when I view the caller ID.

If I had to guess, you actually do owe the money and you're shooting yourself in the foot by never answering and figuring out why they are calling you. Just because your debt is with 'company X' doesn't mean company X will handle the actual collection process. Those are more than likely legitimate 3rd party collection agencies that are handling the debt.

Debt collectors are not telemarketers and are not bound by Do not call registries. As long as the autodialer calls are not to your cell phone then they have done nothing wrong. If it IS to your cell phone and you haven't told them it was your cell they might not know and thus would have done nothing wrong.

They may call you usually up to 3 times a day between 8am and 9pm.

In short: answer the phone, figure out why they think you owe money. It is your problem and you need to figure out why, especially if you actually don't. They will require you to verify using public information (Date of birth being most common) before they will be able to discuss any debt so be aware you will get nowhere refusing to give any information whatsoever.

I HAVE an excessive amount of phone calls from this one creditor
My cell phone is bombarded with calls from this one creditor daily. I block one number they call from another. Voicemails as well

Did you try answering the phone? Because it sounds like you are just ignoring the calls which is always a mistake. If you talk to them you will be able to work on limiting the phone calls. If you don't then the calls will continue. If you work with them on limiting calls by setting up dates for them to check in (where you again, answer the phone) and they continue calling you relentlessly anyways, then they have harassed you and you could potentially sue them.

I am being thritened by a collection company for a payday looan back in 2012. What can I do?

A legitimate debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. The notice has to include the name of the creditor you owe money to, and what you can do if you don’t think you owe the money. Read Debt Collection to learn more about your rights.

What can you do if they are calling your home in reference to someone you are related to? How you a person stop them from calling me for bills my grown children owe? I have nothing to do with the debt.

This FTC article about debt collection explains that generally a debt collector may contact other people – but only to find out the address, home phone number, and workplace of the person who owes the debt.

Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting these other people more than one time. Other than asking for location information, a debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss a person's debt with anyone besides the person, and his her spouse and attorney.

You can report problems with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.

I have a unique situation in that a facility continues to send my husband bills for services rendered and the services were paid in full with a credit card and an authorization code was provided at the time of full payment. We have spoken on several occasions to the facility and provided the name of the individual taking our credit card number, the authorization code, the date the full amount was paid yet we continue to be billed for services which have been paid in full. I have even spoken with the Supervisor of the billing department twice and both times she assured me she would resolve the issue. If/when another bill arrives asking for payment I will seek legal counsel. My husband and I are senior citizens and feel we are being harassed. By the way I am an excellent record keeper. I think the facility should be sued and we should be able to reclaim damages. Any advice from the FTC?

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them. This FTC article explains more about your rights when a debt collector calls.

You may want to read this FTC article about solving consumer problems for information about writing an effective complaint letter.

What I want to know is how to stop automated debt collection calls? I have a new phone number, and I am being bombarded by computers calling me with messages for who ever had this number before me. How do I stop these calls?

If you can talk with any of the callers, you can tell them about the number change and to stop calling you. You can add the new number to the Do Not Call list to reduce some calls. You may want to ask your phone carrier for a different number if the situation persists.

I have 2 maybe 3 questions. I have medical debt collectors that call me EVERYDAY several times a day and leave me messages. I thought they could only call every so many days??

I have another medical debt collector who placed my Deceased Mothers bills on mine because I was her Power of Attorney when she was alive. I explained to them that a POA is NOT responsible to PAY a persons debts from their own pocket but they seem to not understand this. They continue to send me bills and call and I continue to tell them to stop. There were well over 100 bills do I have to send them a notice for each debt or one in general covering all of my Mothers previous debts??

You have rights when you deal with debt collectors. For example, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree to it. Debt collectors can't harass people, or call them repeatedly to annoy them.

This FTC article about debts and deceased relatives may have information you can use. Usually, family members don't have to use their own money to pay the debts of a deceased person. The estate of the deceased person owes the debt. If there isn't enough money in the estate to cover the debt, it typically goes unpaid. But there are exceptions to this rule. If you have questions about whether you are legally obligated to pay a deceased person's debts from your own assets, talk to a lawyer.

You could use this this state-by-state list from the American Bar Association or visit this site from the State Bar Associations to get names of lawyers in your area.

Last year around this time I received calls from a debt collector stating they needed to serve me and were going to do so at my place of employment and needed my work address.. I was upset because 1) they called me to work where I have told them before not to contact me at and 2) they refused to tell me what it was about (I just assumed it was a debt collector) they stopped calling me directly but called my director's office, and apparently HR, seriously I had to put a stop to it and lets just say they stopped calling after I filed a complaint. NOT FOR LONG today I received a call (coincidence it's the same time of year) the gentleman called and stated he had a message for me in regards to court papers?? I'm sorry but it makes me so mad that they are contacting me at work. I know I'm doing wrong by avoiding them and am really considering talking to them but I need to work up the patience to do so since they are not the friendliest people.

You may find the information and tips in this FTC blog post of help -- How to stop calls from debt collectors. Learn more about dealing with debt collectors — and how you can regain control of your finances.

We have a bill to a local hospital that is larger, but under 12k. We were already making payments but the lady who runs their office called and said thanks for your payment but its not enough. She demanded that we fill out a charity care application (their way of getting all your financial information) we said no thanks, we dont want charity, we want to continue paying our bill as we have been. She said we either had to fill out the charity care application or they would send us to collections even though we had been making monthly payments. Ridiculous right? Bullies. So, feeling backed into a corner, we filled out the application. After that, they demanded $250 monthly payments which is completely ridiculous, but we have been scraping it together for over a year now. Continuing that way, we will have it paid off in less than 3 years. And today, we got a call from someone in their corporate office wanting us to pay it off today since some of that balance dates back to visits older than 18 months, as if we control how and where on our bill they apply their 250 a month, and as if anyone in the real world could possibly come up with thousands of dollars on demand like that. So my husband said no, we can't and the lady wanted us to go get a loan to pay them off and then said if we were not going to do that then she threatened to send the entire balance to collections. IS THIS LEGAL? I cannot believe people do business this way, it's absolutely ludicrous. Advice please!

This article explains some of your rights when you deal with debt collectors.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. If a business you owe, like a hospital, calls you directly about your bill, the FDCPA may not apply. A lawyer or credit counselor could  help you with these questions. You could contact the local bar association or legal services association to ask about talking with a lawyer. Or, you could look for a credit counselor to talk with.

Most reputable credit counselors are non-profit and offer services at local offices, online, or on the phone. If possible, find an  organization that offers in-person counseling. Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service operate non-profit credit counseling programs. Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals

My aunt has been dealing with debt collectors for some time. She is always getting calls. I will have to get her to write a certified letter and get the creditors to stop calling.

I was harassed by a business who kept calling me about another persons debt. Contacting them did no good. To make a long story short i changed my number and slowly helped them into a position were they had to chenge their number

I called MSCI to see if I could work out a settlement offer for my sisters past bills. Shortly after, i started receiving phone call from them trying to collect $200.00 on 20 yr old tickets that I had-AND I RECENTLY FILED BANKRUPTCY(2016).

I had recieved no calls from them prior and know that they are not dischargable through the bankruptcy and had them removed from from credit report as they are over 20 yrs old.

This morning (Nov 15, 2016) I got another phone call and the person said that they will continue to call- CAN THEY DO THAT?

I informed them that i never intended on paying the tickets and that thier call were a waste of both of our times and asked them not to call BUT I KNOW THAT THEY WONT SO IVE NOW BLOCKED THEIR PHONE NUMBER.

But what other action can I take or is this going to be it between us for the rest of our lives?

200.00 collections from over 20 yrs ago, not on my crddit or affecting me adversely in any way- hadn't recieved a call from them until I called them to work out a settlement offer for my sister.

SMH......I SHOULDVE NEVER CALLED FROM MY PHONE AND USED SOMEONE ELSES.

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