Repeated, unwanted telephone calls can be anything from a mere annoyance to a source of stress and anxiety. Frequent sales calls at home can interrupt your time with your family or your hobbies or your latest Netflix binge. Frequent calls about debts can cause you emotional distress, and threaten your livelihood when a creditor or collection agency calls you at work.
However, you don’t have to tolerate the nuisance or harassment of telemarketer or collections calls. You have rights under a couple of different federal laws to make the calls stop. You can use these laws to make a complaint to a federal agency — or under some circumstances to even file a lawsuit — if the calls continue.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is the federal law that governs telemarketers and telephone solicitations. When you get unwanted calls from a telemarketer, there are a couple of things you can do.
- Get the telemarketer’s name, the name of the company or organization on whose behalf they’re calling, and contact information including a telephone number or address. FCC rules say they have to provide this information.
- Tell the telemarketer during the call that you don’t want to be called. FCC rules say they have to comply with a do-not-call request.
- Register on the national Do-Not-Call list at www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register. You can register a landline or a cell phone on the list at no cost.
- Once you register, telemarketers have 31 days to stop the calls and remove you from their lists.
If the telemarketer continues to call, you can use the contact information to file a complaint with the FCC. You can do that in one of three ways:
- Online at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744
- By telephone at 888-225-5322/888-CALL-FCC
- By sending a letter with your name, address, phone number, email address, and a detailed description of your complaint to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
The FCC can warn the telephone solicitor or fine companies that violate the rules. However, not all telemarketer calls are against the rules or can be stopped using these methods. Some solicitation calls are allowed even you add your number to the Do-Not-Call list. Those include:
- Calls made with your express permission
- Calls on behalf of or from charities or nonprofits
When you receive calls about a debt, you have the right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to ask the creditor or collection agency not to contact you by telephone, even if you do actually owe the debt. You can make the request verbally when they call you, or you can send a letter asking them not to call you. Often, a letter can be more effective and produces a record in case the creditor or collection agency continues to call you in violation of the law.
It’s important to note that asking a creditor to stop calling you does not make the debt go away, and the creditor may take other action — including suing you and garnishing your wages — to collect the debt unless you can prove that you don’t owe the debt.
This is a sample letter you might use to request that a collection agency stop calling you.
Your Mailing Address
Creditor or Collection Agency Name
Re: Account Number (or other information to identify the debt)
Dear [Creditor Name]:
I am writing in response to your efforts to contact me to collect a debt. The debt you referenced was [include any details you have about the debt such as the amount, what the debt was for, and who the original creditor was]. You contacted me on [date of call or calls].
Pursuant to my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I request that you cease all telephone communication with me about this debt.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The creditor may contact you after your request to confirm that they won’t contact you again, or to notify you that they plan to pursue additional action such as a lawsuit. If you think you’re going to be sued, you should consult an experienced debt collections defense attorney to learn about your options.
How an Ohio Debt Relief Lawyer Can Help
An experienced Ohio debt help lawyer also may be able to help you to get your debt under control by negotiating with your creditors to set up payment plans you can afford. If you are being harassed by telemarketers or collections agencies, contact us for a free legal consultation with an experienced Ohio debt help lawyer at (888) 726-3181 or email@example.com.