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If you are receiving repeated phone calls from a debt collector or if he or she is calling you at work, there is a way to stop this. You will need to send the agency what's called a cease and desist letter. You can find an example of this letter by clicking on this link. This link will take you to a webpage where you will not only find a sample letter but also a short video explaining the letter and why you should use the template. If you choose to send the collection agency one of these letters it's important to mail it registered and return receipt requested so that if necessary you can prove you sent the letter.
What happens next?
Once a debt collection agency receives your cease and desist letter it is allowed by law to contact you just once more. This is to either tell you that it will no longer be contacting you or that it intends to take some legal action against you. Of course, a debt collection agency can continue to contact you even after you send a cease and desist letter and many of the worst ones will. If this happens, your best recourse may be to sue the agency. The law allows what are called statuary damages at $1000 per case (not per violation) and you might also be able to get actual damages. And as noted above, you can also file a complaint against the agency with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Get your credit reports
The best way to protect yourself against identity theft and being erroneously targeted by debt collection agencies is to get and review your credit reports on a regular basis. The law requires the three credit bureaus ( Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to provide you with your credit reports free once a year. There is also the website www.annualcreditreport.com where you could get all three of your credit reports simultaneously – but again just once a year. Most experts say the best way to get credit reports is one at a time at a four-month interval. If you do this you will be able to monitor your credit year-round at no cost.
If you find errors
When you review your credit reports you need to look carefully for errors. This could be charges you don't remember making or the names of companies with whom you don't remember ever doing business. If you find one of these errors on a credit report you must dispute it with the credit bureau. All three have forms on their websites specifically for this purpose. However, most experts say it's better to do the dispute in writing via a letter. When the credit bureau receives your letter it’s required by law to contact the company or institution that provided the information and ask that it be verified. If it can’t be verified or if the institution or company fails to respond within 30 days the credit bureau is required to remove the item from your file. And it’s a good idea to do a follow-up after a month or two to make sure that the item was actually deleted.