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How to Stop Collection Agencies From Harassing

by Allison Boelcke
  • Overview

    Collection agencies are third-party organizations hired by companies to contact people who owe debts. Whether you have an outstanding debt that you know about but cannot pay or a company falsely thinks you have a debt with it, you may receive constant calls from collection agencies. Fortunately, federal law is on your side. The Federal Trade Commission's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bans collection agencies from harassing debtors and has a system in place to keep them from aggressively pursuing you.
 
  • Step 1

    Answer the phone call or call the collection agency back. Ask for information about the debt and explain your situation. Often the agency is repeatedly calling you just to get an explanation, not necessarily to secure payment of the debt right away. The calls may stop once you speak to a collector. If a company mistakenly thinks you owe money or has you confused with another individual, tell the collector politely.
  • Step 2

    Ask the collector for the agency's contact information. Then write a letter to the agency asking it not to contact you or your family or friends, whether at home, work or on your cell phone. Print out two copies of the letter.
  • Step 3

    At the post office, pay to have the letter sent by certified mail. Request that a return receipt be sent to you when the collection agency receives the letter so you have proof it was received. Once it receives the letter, the agency is allowed to contact you one more time to either say it has received the letter or to inform you it is pursuing legal action about the debt.
  • Step 4

    Write down the time of the calls and the exact wording of the messages if the collection agency does not stop calling or if the messages are threatening or insulting. Ask your friends or family to record this information as well if the collection agency contacts them looking for you.
  • Step 5

    Contact both the Federal Trade Commission and your state's attorney general (see Resources) and give them the details about the collection calls from Step 4. The FTC can investigate the agency. The attorney general can guide you on how to handle the situation, as your state may have a specific procedure for handling collection harassment that differs from federal law.
  • 3
  • Collection agency contact information
  • Collection agency contact information
  • Be persistent about getting the collection agency's contact information even if the collector is reluctant to tell you. Under federal law, the agency cannot refuse to give you this information or misrepresent itself.
  • Be persistent about getting the collection agency's contact information even if the collector is reluctant to tell you. Under federal law, the agency cannot refuse to give you this information or misrepresent itself.
  • Don't think you won't have to pay your debt if the collection agency is found to be violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The agency will be reprimanded or fined, but you'll still owe the money.
  • Don't think you won't have to pay your debt if the collection agency is found to be violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The agency will be reprimanded or fined, but you'll still owe the money.

References & Resources