From Collector: The End of the Line

What to do when consumers say “stop.”

12/3/2019 8:00 AM

NewsCollector Magazine
From Collector: The End of the Line

There will likely come a time when you reach a roadblock when talking with a consumer. One of the rights consumers have been given by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the ability to limit or stop collection communications.

Here’s a quick review of situations you might encounter from ACA International’s Compliance Education Specialist Angela Czerlanis in the December issue of Collector magazine.

Time, Place or Manner Inconvenience

This request limits the ways when, where or how you can attempt to collect. Look and listen carefully for information from the consumer—they do not have to use the word “inconvenient.” For example:

  • “Don’t call me here anymore.”
  • “I’m third shift. When you call me at 10 a.m., I’ve just gone to bed!”
  • “Can you call my other number instead?”

If you receive a verbal request like this regarding time, place or manner, the FDCPA does not require that you completely stop communications. However, you must acknowledge the situation. Document the consumer’s request appropriately in the collection notes so that other collectors know the boundaries. Get the preferred contact information.

You may continue collection attempts by calling at other times or places known to be convenient for the consumer. Follow your company’s policies and any other requirements regarding limited communications to prevent a harassment claim.

Cease Communication Requests

Section 805(c) of the FDCPA states that any written request to stop or to limit contact with a consumer must be obeyed. A written refusal to pay is considered a cease communication request. These written notices become effective immediately upon receipt. If you receive a letter from a consumer you are attempting to collect from, make sure you read it carefully so you know if it includes a limitation of contact, refusal to pay, cease communication request or other demand.

A consumer’s cease communication request or a refusal to pay the debt does not need to specifically state the words “cease communication” or “I refuse to pay this debt” to make it valid. The context of the letter must indicate that the consumer does not wish to have further contact with the debt collector or refuses to pay the debt, such as:

  • “Kindly don’t bother me anymore.”
  • “I want no further nonlitigation contact from you.”
  • “You can keep trying, but I’m not paying.”
  • “I am not paying this.”

What Happens Next: One and Done

The collector may send one final communication explaining one of the following three options:

1. Further collection communication will be stopped;

2. What kind of action your agency or the creditor usually takes under similar circumstances; or

3. What your agency or the creditor intends to do about the debt.

Some “cease comms” can get complicated and include additional or subsequent requests for information or debt verification. Escalate these letters and pursue guidance from your compliance team.

When you are on mail duty and processing written correspondence from consumers, stay sharp and be on the lookout for any indications of requests to limit or stop contact with the consumer. Follow your company’s procedures for communicating these requests in the account notes. For more information, check out the ACA SearchPoint document #1136, Cease Communication Requests.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

From Collector: The End of the Line

There will likely come a time when you reach a roadblock when talking with a consumer. One of the rights consumers have been given by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the ability to limit or stop collection communications.

Here’s a quick review of situations you might encounter from ACA International’s Compliance Education Specialist Angela Czerlanis in the December issue of Collector magazine.

Time, Place or Manner Inconvenience

This request limits the ways when, where or how you can attempt to collect. Look and listen carefully for information from the consumer—they do not have to use the word “inconvenient.” For example:

  • “Don’t call me here anymore.”
  • “I’m third shift. When you call me at 10 a.m., I’ve just gone to bed!”
  • “Can you call my other number instead?”

If you receive a verbal request like this regarding time, place or manner, the FDCPA does not require that you completely stop communications. However, you must acknowledge the situation. Document the consumer’s request appropriately in the collection notes so that other collectors know the boundaries. Get the preferred contact information.

You may continue collection attempts by calling at other times or places known to be convenient for the consumer. Follow your company’s policies and any other requirements regarding limited communications to prevent a harassment claim.

Cease Communication Requests

Section 805(c) of the FDCPA states that any written request to stop or to limit contact with a consumer must be obeyed. A written refusal to pay is considered a cease communication request. These written notices become effective immediately upon receipt. If you receive a letter from a consumer you are attempting to collect from, make sure you read it carefully so you know if it includes a limitation of contact, refusal to pay, cease communication request or other demand.

A consumer’s cease communication request or a refusal to pay the debt does not need to specifically state the words “cease communication” or “I refuse to pay this debt” to make it valid. The context of the letter must indicate that the consumer does not wish to have further contact with the debt collector or refuses to pay the debt, such as:

  • “Kindly don’t bother me anymore.”
  • “I want no further nonlitigation contact from you.”
  • “You can keep trying, but I’m not paying.”
  • “I am not paying this.”

What Happens Next: One and Done

The collector may send one final communication explaining one of the following three options:

1. Further collection communication will be stopped;

2. What kind of action your agency or the creditor usually takes under similar circumstances; or

3. What your agency or the creditor intends to do about the debt.

Some “cease comms” can get complicated and include additional or subsequent requests for information or debt verification. Escalate these letters and pursue guidance from your compliance team.

When you are on mail duty and processing written correspondence from consumers, stay sharp and be on the lookout for any indications of requests to limit or stop contact with the consumer. Follow your company’s procedures for communicating these requests in the account notes. For more information, check out the ACA SearchPoint document #1136, Cease Communication Requests.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

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