how to get a bill collector to stop calling

How to Get a Bill Collector to Stop Calling You

Dealing with relentless calls from debt collectors can feel overwhelming. The constant ringing and demands for payment can take a major toll on your mental health and well-being. However, you have rights under the law that prohibit abusive and harassing behavior from third-party debt collectors.

In this guide, we’ll explore the legal protections available to you and provide step-by-step instructions for forcing debt collectors to cease contact through proper channels.

Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Activities Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Activities Act (FDCPA) is a federal legislation passed in 1977 to protect customers from unethical and abusive debt collection activities. This legislation prohibits debt collectors from using manipulative tactics like:

  • Calling you before 8 AM or after 9 PM
  • Contacting you at work if you’ve told them your employer doesn’t allow such calls
  • Using profane, obscene, or abusive language
  • Threatening violence or harm
  • Discussing your debt with third people without consent
  • Making false statements or misrepresenting the amount you owe

Additionally, the FDCPA gives you the right to dispute any debt and requires the collector to provide written validation of the amount allegedly owed. Exercising this option within 30 days triggers certain obligations on the collector’s part.

When Repeated, Excessive Calls Constitute Harassment

While the occasional call to inquire about payment may be allowed, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in conduct that could be considered harassment. This includes calling repeatedly in an attempt to annoy or abuse you.

If a debt collector is bombarding you with excessive calls, make sure to document each instance with the date, time, and any relevant details. Keeping a log of this behavior will help demonstrate a pattern of illegal harassment if you need to pursue legal action.

Mississippi’s Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

In Mississippi, there is a time limit on how long creditors can sue you to collect a debt, known as the statute of limitations. For most types of consumer debt, including credit card debt and medical bills, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of your last payment (Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49).

Once this time period expires, the debt becomes “time-barred,” meaning the collector can no longer successfully sue you for payment. They might still attempt to collect the debt, though, by sending letters and making phone calls.

How to Stop Debt Collector Calls Through Proper Procedures

Even if the debt is legitimate, you have the right to demand that collectors cease all further contact by taking the following steps:

Send a Cease and Desist Letter

One of the most effective ways to stop collector calls is to send a written cease and desist letter. This formal request tells the collector to stop all further communication with you. To provide proof of delivery, send the letter by certified mail with a return receipt.

When the collector gets your letter, they may only contact you to:

  1. Inform you of specific actions, like filing a lawsuit
  2. Notify you that collection efforts are being terminated

Dispute the Debt in Writing

If you believe the debt is inaccurate, not yours, or time-barred, you have the right to dispute it. Send a written dispute letter to the collector within 30 days of their initial contact. They must then validate the debt before resuming collection activities.

Under Mississippi law, if a collector knowingly files a lawsuit to collect a time-barred debt, it’s considered an unfair practice (Miss. Code Ann. § 75-24-5). If you’re sued for an old debt, contact our firm immediately for help asserting your rights.

File a Complaint

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA or Mississippi debt collection laws, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office. These agencies investigate consumer complaints and can take action against unethical collectors.

Consequences If Harassment Persists After Proper Notice

If you’ve properly invoked your rights by sending debt validation and cease communication notices, it is illegal for the debt collector to continue harassing you through repeated calls or other prohibited conduct. At this point, you have grounds to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Federal Trade Commission and pursue monetary damages through legal action.

The FDCPA allows consumers to recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs, for willful violations by debt collectors.

Dealing With Time-Barred “Zombie” Debts

In Mississippi, creditors and debt collectors generally have up to 3-7 years to sue you over most types of unpaid debt, after which the debt is considered “time-barred” or obsolete. However, making even a partial payment on stale debt can renew the statute of limitations clock and revive the collector’s ability to pursue legal action.

If a debt collector contacts you about an ancient debt you haven’t paid in over seven years, you have the right to request debt validation and dispute the entire amount as uncollectible based on the expired statute of limitations. Do not make any payment or acknowledge the debt, as this could legally resurrect the zombie.

Tips for Resolving Valid Debts Properly

If the debt being collected is legitimate and you wish to resolve it, take control of the process by:

  • Requesting a complete accounting of fees and interest charges
  • Negotiating firmly for a lump-sum settlement for less than the full balance
  • Getting any payment agreement details documented in writing
  • Asking the collector to accept the settlement as a “full and final” resolution of the debt
  • After the debt is paid per the agreement, send a final notice requesting written confirmation that the account is closed

Taking these proactive steps demonstrates your good faith intent to resolve the debt properly while protecting your rights against further harassment.

Don’t Face Debt Collectors Alone – Call Ware Law Firm Today

No one should have to endure endless harassment and abusive treatment from debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you powerful rights to stop the calls and fight back against unlawful conduct. At Ware Law Firm, we have years of experience aggressively protecting Mississippi consumers and securing significant settlements and verdicts against abusive debt collectors.

If you are dealing with debt collection harassment or any other consumer law issue, our firm provides skilled legal advocacy and personalized attention throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. With offices in Magee and Ridgeland, MS, we are ready to be your fearless voice for justice.

Author Bio

Consumer Law and Bankruptcy Attorney Serving Magee, Mississippi

Daniel Ware is CEO and Managing Partner of Ware Law Firm, a consumer protection law firm in Magee, MS. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including identity theft, lemon law, debt collection, and other consumer protection matters.

Daniel received her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law and is a member of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association. He has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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