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How Do I Get Debt Collectors to Stop Calling Me?

Written by Ilyce Glink on February 26, 2014 in Credit  |   13 comments

You never want to have a collection show up on your credit report. Having this type of information on your report could impact your credit score, making it difficult for you to obtain new loans or lines of credit. If one of your credit accounts…

information on your credit reportYou never want to have a collection show up on your credit report. Having this type of information on your report could impact your credit score, making it difficult for you to obtain new loans or lines of credit.

If one of your credit accounts becomes delinquent and winds up with a collection agency, you could start to receive intimidating phone calls from debt collectors. While you may be afraid to pick up the phone, ignoring the calls probably won’t stop the debt collector from calling or trying to collect the debt.

Remember: if debt collectors start calling, you do have the ability to stop them thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This legislation also makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you.

What are my options if a debt collector contacts me?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces the debt collection legislation, advises that if a debt collector calls you, you should consider talking to the collector at least once—even if you can’t pay the debt off right away or believe it doesn’t belong to you.

After a debt collector contacts you for the first time, the collector is required to send you a written “validation notice” that discloses the name of the creditor to whom you are in debt and what protocol you should follow if you don’t think you owe the money. The debt collector must send you this information within five days of your initial communication.

If you don’t want to receive further communication from the debt collector, you must send a letter requesting that the contact stop.

“If you write them a letter and say, ‘Do not call me at work, do not call me at home, if you need to contact me, please send me a letter,’ they have to abide by that,” says Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has sample letters consumers can use to help draft written letters of their own, with templates for different circumstances, such as stopping the debt collector from future contact altogether or specifying under what terms the debt collector can contact you.

The CFPB urges consumers to respond to debt collectors in writing as soon as possible because, in some cases, you’ll only have 30 days after you are first contacted to request certain information.

For example, if you don’t think you owe the debt and have been contacted in error, you can send the collector a letter explaining the situation. That letter must be sent within 30 days of getting your validation notice. If you are disputing the collection, the CFPB also suggests mailing copies of any information that proves your case.

As with any important correspondence, send your letter and any additional information by certified mail with a return receipt. That way, you’ll have documentation showing the debt collector received your request. Remember to also make copies of the letter for your own records.

What happens after I send my letter to the debt collector?

Once the debt collector has received your letter, the collector can only initiate contact to inform you there will be no future contact or to tell you the creditor plans to take future action, such as filing a lawsuit.

If you’ve disputed the debt within the appropriate timeframe, the debt collector can only resume contacting you after your dispute has been investigated and the collector has verified the debt for you in writing.

While your letter can stop a debt collector from calling you, it will not absolve you of the debt, and the debt collector or creditor could still sue you in order to collect the money you owe. Ending communication with a debt collector will also not stop the collection from being reported to the credit reporting agencies and appearing on your credit report.

In general, an account in collections will begin to be reported 180 days from the start of the delinquency that led to the collection. It will remain on your credit report for seven years, and it could have a significant negative impact on your credit score.

“At the end of the day, pay something,” Dvorkin suggests, even if you can only make a partial payment towards the debt in collections.

“Don’t worry about a collector who says, ‘We won’t take your money because we want full payment.’ If you are going to present them with a check, they are going to cash it.”

What can I do if a debt collector violates my request?

According to the CFPB, if a debt collector keeps contacting you after having received your written notice, the collector could be breaking the law. The FTC recommends reporting debt collection issues not only to its office but also to the CFPB and your state’s attorney general’s office.

Ilyce Glink is the author of over a dozen books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In! Her nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters,” appears in newspapers from coast-to-coast, and her Expert Real Estate Tips YouTube channel has nearly 4 million views. She is the managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog, publisher of ThinkGlink.com, and owner of digital communications agency Think Glink Media. In addition to her WSB radio show and WGN radio contributions, she is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio. Ilyce is a frequent contributor to Yahoo and CBS News.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. Donna M Hausmann says:

    Since 1982 I have had a headache with these credit bureaus. Not only have they put someone else’s negative (collections) on my report, told me after their investigation the debt was still mine ( after calling the collection attorney and verified the debt was not mine), a 5 minute call, I am still dealing with harassing calls looking for the other person. By the way we have different socials, different birthdays and different middle initials. My pay was even garnished once. What has been the problem Is the credit bureas have put my address on her credit report and I don’t know what else of mine they may have put on there because I do not have priviledge to it. How do I fix THAT!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have noticed that CREDIT AGENCIES, do not have a clue what is going on in the real world. For the past THREE YEARS, I have been telling them as well as all the debt collectors that I am NOT MARIA ORTEGA. I have now hired an attorney and will begin to “make money” because these foolish people cannot pay attention to detail and continue to give my phone number as Maria Ortegas.

  3. Jim J. says:

    I have a dispute with Carmax concerning a car they bought from me. They are trying to bully me and threatening to turn the issue over to a collection agency. I’m concerned this will affect my credit.
    The issue is between Honda Financial and Carmax……not me.


  4. Dorothy A. A. says:

    I want to clean up my credit, by taking all of this old and closed accounts off my credit, creditors I never knew on my credit summary need to be taken off my credit. what can I do. I called about 4 -5 years ago to some of these creditors, they sent me letters telling me the accounts are closed, but how do I get them off my credit now.

  5. Dorothy A. A. says:

    I do not have any collections, neither do I receive collection calls, but I want to clean my credit up by taking off all of this old credit off my credit, It is holding me back from getting a loan moderationthey tell my I am in over $600.000 debt, I know better that is not true, but they are calculating some of the old credit.

  6. Phyllis T. says:

    I have been told that I bought a car! I have also been told that we owe money for places that we lived! All our security depoisits disappeared and were never returned, we are talking about thousands of dollars here.

  7. mauricio41 says:

    one collection company is calling me every day saying that I have a debt with them if I do not pay them I will send to court and I told them that debt and say it is of mutual bank washinton this bank no longer exists more ten years.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone have a phone number for Equifax? They are well hidden!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You might try one of these phone numbers for Equifax.

      1-866-937-8432 (automated)
      1-877-478-7625 (fraud alert line)
      1-866-349-5186 (credit report assistance)
      1-800-685-1111 (obtain a credit score)
      1-800-525-6285 (place a security alert or freeze)

      These are numbers I found on correspondence from Equifax. Who knows, they may all be automated!

  9. Hatch says:

    How do Rapid Rescore work.

  10. Anthony R says:

    I have four credit card debts that began in late 2009. They’ve languished on my credit report ever since. I a serious back injury in 2004. By 2009, I was out of work and unable to be employed, and two back surgeries.

    I’ve always be told that after 4 years the debtor cannot sue. Then, after seven years, the debts are suppose to “fall off” my credit report by all credit reporting agencies.

    Is this true? If so, how do I make sure the credit agencies remove the debts?

    • Anonymous says:

      Depends on the state that you live in. I’m originally from NY. There the law was changed. If you have an unpaid debt after 7 years from the date of last activity (keyword date of last activity), they can automatically keep on for a total of 21 years…even if the statute of limitations has run. They can’t sue you for it after the 7 years from the date of last activity but can still report. Are you in Texas? I believe they have the most lenient credit reporting laws. Whatever you do, don’t acknowledge the debt or make any payment. By doing so, you have verified the debt and you make the statute of limitations run longer if you make a payment (that would be activity). I would send a letter to each agency and dispute each and every item. Good luck.

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