Harassment by Debt Collectors

If debt collectors, also known as collection agencies, start calling you or already have, we recommend that you get their address and send each a “cease communication” letter. Legal Services for the Elderly can provide you with a “cease communication” form letter to use.

A “cease communication” letter should be sent to a debt collector via certified mail, return receipt requested, and you should keep a copy of the letter for your records.

Under both federal and state law, debt collectors are prohibited from continuing to seek repayment on a debt once you’ve told them not to contact you again. If a debt collector continues to bother you after you have sent them the “cease communication” letter, you should report them to the Maine Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529, by submitting a complaint using a paper form available on the Bureau’s website, or by submitting an online complaint on the Bureau’s website. However, please be aware that your original creditor may still contact you regarding the outstanding debt.

Do not be surprised if more than one debt collector calls about a debt. Once you send the “cease communication” letter to the first debt collector, it may sell your debt to another debt collector that will start contacting you. Keep sending the letters and remember that you do not need to talk to any debt collector no matter what they tell you.

Debt collectors are extremely skillful at pressuring people to make payments on debts. Debt collectors will say anything to try to get money out of you and may resort to telling lies about the debt collection process and making threats. You may want to screen your calls to avoid answering calls from debt collectors. If you do answer a call from a debt collector, you may state, “I exercise my rights under federal and Maine law and demand that you immediately stop contacting me.” Then, simply hang up the phone. It may feel strange to be so abrupt with a debt collector, but any conversation on your part will encourage the debt collector to continue to try to get repayment from you. Just keep in mind that you are under no legal obligation to speak to any debt collector.

At some point, you will be served with court documents. When you are, please contact our agency immediately for help by calling the Helpline number below. In the meantime, feel free to call the Helpline if you have further questions or if you would like to obtain Legal Services for the Elderly’s “cease communication” form letter.