Monday, January 10, 2011

The Partial Cease and Desist Letter

When you've had it with the constant ringing of your telephone and the daily messages from debt collectors insisting that you call at once to discuss an "important financial matter," the discovery that a written cease and desist order forces bill collectors to stop contacting you may seem like a gift from heaven.

But don't get too excited just yet.

Cease and Desist letters force collection agencies to stop contacting you.

When the debt collector cannot contact you, how can it possibly collect the debt? Is the company going to simply sigh and give up?  If your debt is insignificant to the company, that's certainly a possibility – but a lawsuit from the company is an equal possibility. Which brings us to the limited Cease and Desist letter.

The Partial Cease and Desist Letter

One supposed loophole to the "cease all contact" provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the partial Cease and Desist letter. The partial Cease and Desist letter directs collection agencies to stop contacting you by telephone only. You're still leaving them the right to send you all the letters they please (time to invest in a paper shredder, perhaps?). The theory here is that, since the company still has a collection method at its disposal, your Cease and Desist letter won't trigger a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, the FDCPA only recognizes one type of Cease and Desist – the full cease communication order. Thus, if you have a collection agency that follows the letter of the law to a T (sure, it exists...its headed by the Easter Bunny and staffed with gnomes), the company will acknowledge your partial Cease and Desist as a full Cease and Desist and stop all contact – placing you at the same risk of a lawsuit you would have incurred by sending the full cease communication order.

Oh, the agony.

Making a Limited Cease and Desist Order Work

The FDCPA is a fun little document, full of fun little provisions. It's like a geometric proof...there are so many ways to work things in your favor. Fortunately for the little guy, the FDCPA gives us all one surefire way to make a limited Cease and Desist letter work: the word "inconvenient."

Lets take a look at it in its full glory, shall we?

805 (c) (1) A debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.

When you sit down to type out the "Don't call me but don't sue me either" letter, make absolutely certain to use the word "inconvenient" when detailing why the company should not contact you via telephone. If you think this sounds petty, you couldn't be more correct, but invoking Section 805 of the FDCPA helps prevent your partial Cease and Desist letter from being misconstrued as a full cease communication order.

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