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How can I get a debt collector to stop contacting me?

Debt collection agencies can be relentless in their pursuit of your money. Their ability to call and write to you is regulated by law, but they still retain broad rights to contact individuals they believe owe them a debt.

If you believe the debt collector has the wrong person, if you have already paid off the debt, or if you simply feel harassed and want the agency to leave you alone, there are steps you can take, according to the Federal Trade Commission. A letter can get the calls to stop, restoring peace to your household.

The text of the letter should include a statement telling the debt collector not to contact you again. To make sure you know when the agency receives the letter, send it by certified mail, and pay for a return receipt.

Under the law, debt collectors may not get in touch with an alleged debtor again after receiving this written request — with two exceptions. The agency is allowed to contact you to let you know it will not do so again. It also may let you know that it intends to take a specific action on the matter, such as filing a lawsuit.

Another way to avoid contact with a debt collector is to hire an attorney. After that, the agency may only contact your attorney.

The FTC also suggests discussing the matter with the debt collector at least once, to see if you can resolve the matter. You are not required to do so, but it is possible the agency will recognize its mistake.