I told a bill collector to stop contacting me. Two days later, she called again. Isn't this illegal?

If a bill collector calls you after you've asked it to stop, it might have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

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Question

I told a bill collector to stop contacting me. Two days later, she called again. Isn't this illegal?

Answer

Whether a debt collector can call you after you've told her to stop depends on two things:

  • whether you told the collector to stop calling you at work or home, and
  • whether your request was in writing.

Bill Collector Contact at Your Place of Employment

If you tell a debt collection agency to stop calling you at work, and an agent calls you again, this is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). That's because the FDCPA prohibits bill collectors from calling at your place of employment if they have “reason to know” that your employer forbids you to take these calls at work.

Telling a collector to stop calling you at work is a pretty solid way of providing the collector with “reason to know.” You do not need to make this in writing for notice to be effective. But it's always a good idea to put this instruction in writing in the event you need proof for a later lawsuit.

(Learn more about debt collection calls at work.)

Debt Collector Contacts at Home

If you were not at work when the collector called, and you did not put your request in writing, then the bill collector is legally allowed to call you again. Under the FDCPA, you have the right to be free from all collection calls and letters by bill collectors, but you have to make the demand in writing. If you only make that demand orally, then the collector is free to call again, assuming he or she is not harassing you.

State Law May Provide More Protection

Some states have fair debt collection laws that provide additional protection.

For more information on what a debt collector can and cannot do, your remedies if the collector doesn't follow the law, and additional protections provided by states, visit Nolo's Illegal Debt Collection Practices topic area.

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