The “Drop Dead” Letter: A Useful Tool for Stopping Harassment from Debt Collectors

Stopping Harassment, Written communications

If you are receiving unwanted and harassing phone calls or letters from debt collectors, you have the right to request that the collection agency end communication with you. Writing a letter called the “drop dead letter” – also known as a “cease and desist letter,” which has legal stature based upon the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Section 805, prohibits a collection agency from contacting you once they receive it.

Once the debt collector receives the drop dead” letter, they are allowed, by law, to contact you one time to inform you of any action they intend to take. After that, all communication must stop all together. You cannot request only certain forms of communication, such as no phone calls at work, as after you send a cease communications letter to a collection agency ALL communication must stop.

In the letter you will state that under FDCPA, the collection agency must cease all communication with you or you will file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (who is responsible for enforcement), the States Attorney General office and/or the American Collectors Association or local State Bar Association. Also, include in the letter that you will take the appropriate actions if any negative information is placed on your credit report.

The cease and desist letter must be made in writing and can be sent at any time. It is important to keep a copy of the letter, and I recommend sending it by certified mail and saving the return receipt form. This is evidence that you sent the letter and the debt collector received it, which is necessary if you ever need to sue the creditor under the FDCPA.

Are there any reasons not to send a “drop dead letter” to a harassing bill collector?   Yes.  It is possible that after you send a drop dead letter, the bill collector will turn his file over to his company’s legal department to institute a lawsuit.  By sending a drop dead letter you are, in effect, ending all negotiations and telling the bill collector to “put up or shut up.”

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Jonathan Ginsberg

For over 25 years, Jonathan Ginsberg has represented honest, hardworking men and women facing financial troubles.

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