I’m also getting calls and letters from the collections department of a local merchant I did business with. Can I tell that collector to stop contacting me?

No, the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) applies only to bill collectors who work for collection agencies. Several states, including California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, have laws which bar all debt collectors, both working for a collection agency and working for the creditor itself, from harassing, abusing or threatening you or making any false or misleading statement. These state laws, however, don’t give you the right to demand that the collector stop contacting you. There is one exception. Residents of New York City can use a local consumer protection law (Rules of the City of New York § 5-77(b)(4)) to write any bill collector and say “Stop!”