debt

6 ways not to reset the clock on old debt

Proceed with cease-and-desist letter
Proceed with that cease-and-desist letter © sergign/Shutterstock.com

Proceed with cease-and-desist letter

You are sick of debt collection calls. However, you're afraid telling the creditor not to contact you is an admission the debt is yours.

It's not.

You have the right to ask debt collectors in writing to stop contacting you, whether a debt is yours or not, and they have to comply. Simply send a letter identifying the debt, and tell them to stop contacting you about it.

"You're not affirming the debt -- you're exercising your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," says Thorleifson.

Debt collectors are still required to notify you in writing if they are actually suing you, even if you send a cease-and-desist letter. You don't lose the right to defend yourself in court.

But avoid those letters with multiple-choice boxes some collectors send, says Thorleifson. Often, you check one box to pay in full, one for a partial payment, and there's another to say it's your debt, but you can't afford to pay now.

"If you check a box and send it, it could be enough to serve as a written affirmation of the debt in some states," she says.

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