How to Stop a Debt Collector from Calling or Contacting You

telephones.jpg
Photo Credit: givepeasachance

My wife and I recently received a call from a debt collection agency. They didn’t identify who they were in the voice mail or that they were calling to collect a debt. When we called back, some guy said he was with The Northland Group and claimed we owned some money on a Capital One credit card. The problem is, we don’t have a Capital One credit card. We have never had a Capital One credit card. We explained this to the Northland Group guy, but of course he didn’t believe us. The guy on the phone wanted our social security numbers “to confirm.” Yea, right. When we wouldn’t give him any personal information, he asked, “so now what are you going to do?” My response, “Nothing, what are you going to do?” The conversation quickly went down hill, and we asked him not to call us again. His response was classic–“What are you going to do, call the phone police?” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and here’s how.

If you have debt collectors chasing you, whether you owe the money or not, you need to be aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (pdf download). The FDCPA offers many protections for consumers that prohibit a debt collector from engaging in any of the following: harassment or abuse (Sec. 806), making false or misleading representations (Sec. 807), or engaging in certain unfair practices (Sec. 808). For our purposes today, it also has a provision that allows you to stop a debt collector from contacting you except in limited circumstances.

Section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Section 805 has some great protections for consumers. First, it prohibits debt collectors from contacting at you at “unusual” times, which generally means they can only contact you between 8 am and 9 pm. A debt collector also cannot contact you if they know you are represented by an attorney. And they cannot contact you at your place of employment if they know or should know that your employer does not permit such calls at work. And now let’s turn to the phone police.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act arms consumers with the ability to stop further calls or other contact from a bill collector. Simply notify the debt collector in writing either that you refuse the pay the debt or that you wish the debt collector to stop any further communication. It’s as simple as that. Now the statute does allow debt collectors to contact you after such a notice is sent for certain limited circumstances, but they can’t continue to contact you simply to collect the debt.

It is important to understand that sending this notice won’t make the problem go away. If you owe the debt, they may very well file a lawsuit to collect. But it will stop the calls. So Mr. Northland Group guy, I am going to call in the phone police. And if after receiving my written notice, you call anyway, the statute has some nice penalties I can slap you with. Check out Section 813.

Other steps we took in response to the call

I should add a couple of things about the call from the Northland Group. After receiving the call, I immediately checked our credit reports. This can be done for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. No record of the debt shows up on our credit reports. This tells me either that the creditor has not notified the credit reporting agencies (not likely) or that the individual using our identity does not have our social security numbers (more likely).

Also, the Northland Group has not provided us with validation of the debt in writing as required by Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This tells me either that the Northland Group is simply violating the statute or they have the wrong address. Finally, we also called Capital One to inquire about this debt. They told us they have no record of any accounts in our name or of ever having used the Northland Group to collect debts. I’m not sure what’s going on with this debt collection agency, but I would say that you should never give out personal information if you receive a call like this. We don’t even give them our names.

Published or Updated: February 15, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Mrs. Micah says:

    “Phone police” I love it.

  2. jm says:

    This really makes me mad. I was once harassed by a debt collector because I moved into a new apartment and got a landline with a number recycled from some deadbeat. They would call me every single day asking for some guy I had never heard of before. I’ve also been harassed by people trying to collect debts from relatives.

    Good luck with this. In my cases, there was little I could do under the FDCPA because it wasn’t my alleged debt. I would also give you the suggestion to start keeping a log of all of your interactions with the collector.

    I hope you see a nice $1000 payout in your future!

    • DR says:

      Thanks, jm. I suspect that if you wrote a letter to the debt collector instructing them not to call your number (even if you didn’t owe the debt), that they would be required to honor the request.

  3. jm says:

    You would think that, and in theory, that is probably true, but its hard to send a letter to someone requesting they stop contacting you when they won’t tell you where to send it because you aren’t the one they are trying to collect a debt from. Every time I tried to get that information, they would just hang up on me.

  4. Prescott says:

    Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter

    Today’s Date

    Your Name
    Your Address

    Collector’s Name
    Collector’s Address

    Dear {insert name of collector or company},

    I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated {insert date}, (copy enclosed) because I do not believe I owe what you say I owe.

    This is the first I’ve heard from you, or any other company on this matter therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:

    (b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

    I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information:

    (1) the amount of the debt;
    (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
    (3) Provide a verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
    (4) Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert name of your state)
    Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For instance, I know that:

    because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against me and mail these items to me at your expense;
    you cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
    you do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA;
    Also be advised that I am keeping very accurate records of all correspondence from you and your company including recording all phone calls and I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

    I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have already reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB) then, you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act § 1681s-2. Should you pursue a judgment without validating this debt, I will inform the judge and request the case be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA.

    Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are also aware of my dispute with this debt.

    Signature here
    Your Printed Name

  5. Nicole says:

    I am wondering if anyone knows how to stop debt collectors from calling me and pursuing collection for bills that are over two years old, credit card debt under $1000 each. My situation is that I am now disabled, unemployed, in the process of appealing the Social Security Disability decision, which will take two years or longer. It is impossible to stop these calls, from 8 AM to 8 PM, my home, my boyfriend’s cell, my cell (which I have changed numbers more than once,) and I have explained that I am not going to be able to pay these bills, ever. I may have to file bankruptcy. They are causing me distress, anxiety, PTSD episodes, and I can’t cope with them. Many use a telephone number exchange service NANPA which supplies information about individuals and protects debt collectors. They can receive information about the number I am calling from, even when I block the number. I am on the Nat’l Do Not Call Reistry, which apparently doesn’t apply to debt collection callers. Sometimes I receive 20 calls per day, every 5 or 10 minutes someone calls. They have no shame, they want money that I cannot supply as I do not even have bus fare, only food stamps, and am lucky to be sleeping indoors. Borrowing is not an option. The amounts of money owed by me are relatively nominal, the debt is my fault, it is true, mea culpa, mea culpa, but I did not plan on becoming disabled, unable to even shower or dress without help. How to make this stop? These people are horrid, I would rather scrub toilets than be a debt collector, they are abusive, rude and will not stop. I keep my telephone turned off because it is so bad. Advice from anyone who has had success in stopping this madness? Thank you, especially for allowing me to complain so much.

  6. terry says:

    They called here today, but wouldn’t tell me who said I owed them money.
    I googled them, and it appears they are a giant fraud.
    So, I called them back, and told them that all contact must be in writing, by mail.
    That way I have something to take to the District Attorney.

  7. Rachelle Holloway says:

    We just visited your site and feel confident that we can generate top organic rankings for your site. Please be so kind as to respond to this message and we will prepare a proposal to take your web-based business to the next level.

  8. m solomon says:

    Creditors are calling me on my cell to speak to someone with my ladt name how do i stop this?

  9. Brian says:

    I sent them a VOD letter and they sent a letter back saying they bought this debt from Cap1 and now that this has been verified they will proceed to collect. I sent them another letter saying you did not provide me with any info and I am disputing you VOD letter until you provide the following>the calc of debt, proof they bought the debt, proof they are licensed in this state to collect the debt. proof it is not past the SOL and so on. They sent me a typed paragraph, not on letterhead saying yes the amt is correct, yes the own the debt. I am now disputing their paragraph. ANYone could write a para on white paper. I want PROOF.

Speak Your Mind

*