Collector - February 2018 - 44
I'm Not Paying That!
A consumer's written refusal to pay is a valid cease communication request under the FDCPA.
By Laura Dadd
he Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act allows consumers to request
in writing that a debt collector
cease contacting them, and the debt
collector must comply with such a request.
It also requires debt collectors to cease
communications when consumers submit a
written refusal to pay a debt.
Under Section 805 of the FDCPA,
consumers may send a debt collector a
written notice to cease communications in
connection with the collection of a debt, or
the consumer may send a written notice that
he or she refuses to pay a debt.
Consumers' written requests to cease
communications do not have to precisely
state, "cease communications" or "I refuse
to pay," to make them valid. However,
consumers must indicate their desire for
the debt collector to cease communications
or their refusal to pay through the context
of their letter.
For instance, phrases such as, "Kindly
don't bother me anymore," "This debt
doesn't belong to me," or "I want no
further non-litigation contact from you,"
may suffice to trigger a debt collector's
duty to cease communications with the
consumer. Review correspondence from
consumers very carefully in order to avoid
missing any more subtly worded cease
communication requests or refusals to pay.
Consumers' written cease
communication requests and refusals to
pay are effective upon receipt by the debt
collector. Even if a particular debt collector
contacting a consumer has not read the
consumer's notice before contacting
the consumer, the requests may still be
effective, as it is sufficient that the notice
was received by the debt collection agency.
That's why it's critical to have written
policies and procedures concerning
handling consumer mail and distributing
account updates to collectors. Having
proper policies and procedures may allow
a successful bona fide error defense to be
raised if the necessity arises.
A refusal to pay or a cease communication
request only applies to the specific account
referenced by the consumer. It does not
apply to any subsequent accounts assigned
to the debt collector for payment recovery.
As a result, if the consumer wishes the
debt collector to cease further contact with
respect to all debts or refuses to pay all debts
that are being serviced by the debt collector,
the consumer must invoke the protection of
Section 805(c) of the FDCPA in writing for
Remember, a consumer's written
refusal to pay a debt is the same as a cease
communication request. To be effective, a
refusal to pay or a cease communication
request must be in writing. They only
apply to a specific debt and are effective
upon receipt. Carefully crafted policies and
procedures can help staff recognize a binding
refusal to pay or cease communication
request and provide the proper protocol
for handling such requests. They can also
help prevent honest mistakes and provide
defenses to litigation attempts.
Laura Dadd is ACA International's