Saturday, February 17, 2007

A sample 'cease communications' letter to debt collectors

My posts about debt expiration and statutes of limitation weren't wholly theoretical. I've been dodging calls for the last few months from a collector trying to shake out money for a debt from 2000 that I don't consider valid. (It's a long story, as these things generally are.) Instead of running through hoops trying to track down all the paperwork to prove that the debt is well and truly not legitimate, I opted to wait out the clock till 2007, at which point it became an indisputably expired debt.

This collector is fairly low pressure; their main tactic seems to be leaving automated messages on my answering machine every few weeks. Still, the calls stress David out and I'd also like them to stop, so I figured it's time to formally issue a "cease communications" request, as allowed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under that law, you can at any time tell a collector to stop contacting you, and they have to oblige. Once you've made the request, the only communications they're legally allowed to send is a notice of specific actions, like filing a lawsuit.

In case anyone else can use it, I'm posting the letter I'm sending. I'm citing the New York state law that sets the statute of limitations on debts; if you'd like to find a local law to cite, the Fair Debt Collection website has good pointers to state laws.


[Your Address]

Dear [Collector]:

I am writing regarding your attempts to collect a debt of $XXX for XXXX (account #XXX). I do not acknowledge the validity of this debt, which, in any case, is beyond the six-year statute of limitations for collection in New York, as laid out in the New York State Consolidated Law & Rules (chapter 8, article 2).

In accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Sec. 805(c), I am requesting that you cease any further communication with me on this matter and discontinue phone calls. If I receive any further communication -- other than a written notice that further collection efforts are being terminated -- I will submit a complaint about your organization to the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Better Business Bureau.


[Your Name]