Passed in 1977 by the United States Congress, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) levels the playing field for consumers in several ways. The landmark piece of legislation made it illegal for third-party debt collectors to abuse, harass, and/or threaten consumers over the collection of a debt. Instead of caving into fear and anxiety, consumers have the right to hire legal counsel and seek monetary damages against debt collectors that cross the legal line.
Overview of a Cease and Desist Letter
The FDCPA provides you the right to stop letters and phone calls from debt collectors, even if the communications do not violate the abuse, harass, or threaten guidelines set forth by the federal law. However, you must send a cease and desist order in writing, preferably a letter signed by a Notary Public. You have the backing of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which represents the federal government agency responsible for enforcing FDCPA statutes. In 2011, the FTC pursued a case against a nationally known debt collector that violated a consumer cease and desist order.
Confirm Debt Collector Received the Letter
You sent a cease and desist letter and the third party debt collector still contacted you days or weeks later. What is your legal recourse? First, make sure the debt collector received the cease and desist letter. The most effective way to verify the reception of a cease and desist letter involves sending the letter via certified mail. With a certified letter, you receive a return receipt that confirms the letter arrived at the correct destination. You can also ask the United States Postal Service to track the letter by giving the USPS the certified letter tracking number.
The Debt Collector Has One More Shot
Under the FDCPA, the debt collector has one more chance to contact you after receiving a cease and desist order. The FDCPA mandates the last contact come in the form of a letter that confirms either the debt collector will not make any more attempts to contact you or the debt collector will pursue the debt without contacting you in any way. Remember a cease and desist letter does not prevent the original creditor from contacting you about the debt. Congress enacted the FDCPA specifically to regulate third party debt collectors. The original creditor can use an in-house collections department to seek payment of a delinquent debt.
When to Contact an Attorney
The blatant disregard for a cease and desist letter should prompt you to send a second letter requesting the debt collector stop contacting you. You should refer to the first letter by including date and time the debt collector signed the certified letter, as well as the receipt number of the letter. In the second letter, repeat your request the debt collector refrain from contacting you concerning the debt. Continued attempts to contact you after the second letter violates the FDCPA and should be handled by calling a licensed consumer law attorney.