New Hampshire residents who are behind in credit card or other payments most likely receive multiple calls and letters from debt collectors. Many wonder how to stop the constant attempts at contact, and they may be uncertain of what to do.

People who owe debts are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The federal law governs the manner in which debt collectors may attempt to collect on owed debts, when and how contact may be attempted and what debtors can do to end contact attempts.

Debt collectors are prohibited from contacting debtors at work or at home before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 if they are told by the debtor to stop all such further contact. In order to document the request, it is advisable that the debtor send a written request via certified mail with a return receipt requested. A photocopy of the sent letter should be retained, along with the return receipt to document the date the communication was sent and received. No further contact is allowed after a notice is sent, except a letter from the debt collector that no further contact will be made. The debt collector may also send notice of their intent to file a debt collection lawsuit. If further contact continues, the debtor may sue the collector under the act, recouping fees and damages from the debt collector.

Even if communication is halted, the debt collector may sue. If a judgment is granted, the judgment creditor may then garnish wages or levy bank accounts. When people are seriously delinquent and unable to deal with significant debt, they may want to consider bankruptcy as an option. Upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay is issued which halts all communication as well as all further collection activities.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, “Debt Collection“, December 29, 2014