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If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to deal with debt collector phone calls, you know how frustrating and stressful they can be. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic spell or code word you could use to get the ringing to stop?

There’s plenty of buzz online about an “11-word phrase” that stops creditors and debt collectors in their tracks. Does such a phrase exist, and if so, what is it? We’ll break down the history of this sentence and teach you how you can really stop those pesky phone calls. 

Why Do Debt Collectors Call?

Simply put, creditors and debt collection agencies call people in an attempt to collect money they believe they’re owed. If they’re contacting you, it could be because of the following:

  • You are past due on a debt, or a creditor believes you are past due on a debt.
  • Someone you know might be past due on a debt, and they’re trying to get more information on how to contact them.
  • Your debt was bought from your original creditor, and a debt buyer is now trying to collect the money.

The Origins of the 11-Word Phrase

The “11-word phrase” first caught traction in 2017 thanks to an infomercial. In this ad, which starts with a “special report” graphic, Larry King interviewed credit expert, author and educator John Ulzheimer about the book Credit Secrets by Scott and Alison Hilton. 

One of the most stand-out features of this interaction is Ulzheimer’s memory; in the clip, he listed the specific pages readers can find the keys to various financial secrets. He also dropped mention of the “11-word phrase, saying the following:

“And this is my favorite one, Larry. On page 43, it’s a simple, 11-word phrase you can use that makes it so no bill collector can ever contact you again. In fact, this one single phrase instantly makes it illegal for a debt collector to even dial your phone number. It instantly puts you back in control of the situation.”

The Mysterious Book of Credit Secrets

The book that Ulzheimer bragged about is pretty tricky to get your hands on. Credit Secrets is privately published and sold directly on their website. Scrolling through, you’ll come across a sketchy wall of social media screenshots from supposedly happy customers who have purchased new homes and vehicles thanks to Credit Secrets

You can order the book online (after filling out a form) or over the phone for $39.95. As a suspicious consumer who wants to save money, I didn’t feel confident about submitting my contact information and buying the book online. Instead, I tried to find a copy through resale stores and my local library. Unfortunately, I didn’t have luck, so my next best choice was to seek out reviews from other readers.

Okay, What’s This Big Secret?

My searching did result in a few accounts from writers who read Credit Secrets in search of the infamous mystery sentence. Oddly enough, nobody can seem to pin down the exact phrase that Ulzheimer bragged about. 

Credit Cadabra gave the clearest insight, saying that while there wasn’t an exact 11-word phrase listed in the book, it recommended saying something like this:

“From now on, I demand that you only contact me in writing. You may not call me on the phone.” 

While that’s a bit lengthier than 11 words, it’s a start — no need to spend $40!

What Can You Say To Stop Creditor Calls?

Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes it illegal for debt collectors to use deceptive and abusive strategies when attempting to collect debts. Additionally, new amendments to the law will go into effect starting on November 30th; these changes put limits on the number of times creditors can call in a day, allow consumers to opt-out of digital communications and more. 

If you’re still fighting creditor calls, here are some short phrases you can try:

“You may not call me on the phone. Contact me in writing only.”

The FTC recommends also sending this request in writing to your creditors. While you may still get mail, making a formal request can help reduce the number of times your phone rings.

“I’m working with an attorney. Please contact them instead.”

If an attorney is representing you in relation to your debt, collectors must speak with them directly. 

“I don’t recognize this debt. Please send me verification in writing.”

Are collectors bothering you about something you don’t think you owe? Make them send you validation information that includes the amount of debt owed, the name of the current creditor and how to get the name of the original creditor. If the information still isn’t adding up, dispute it.

This is also a good way to test if the situation is a scam. If a supposed debt collector threatens you, hang up immediately and report them to the FTC.

“I’m addressing this through a resolution company. Please contact them instead.”

One of the benefits of working with a debt resolution company is that they can work with creditors and debt collectors on your behalf. If you’re currently in a program, let the collector know the company you’re working with and end the call. Then, contact your debt resolution company and let them know who contacted you, when they called, what number they used and what they told you.

“I’m not the person you’re looking for — please stop calling.”*

*This should ONLY be used if a debt collector is trying to contact you with the purpose of obtaining someone else’s contact information. You have no obligation to share someone else’s information with a creditor.

While debt collectors can contact others to get more information about where a person lives, where they work or what their phone number is, they can’t discuss a debt with anyone other than that person, their spouse, their parents (if they’re a minor), their legal guardian or executor, or their attorney. 

More Help Addressing Creditor Calls

Get your peace back — learn more about stopping debt collector calls and improving your financial health with Top Dollar:

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