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Monday, March 7, 2011

Should cease and desist letters to financial agents be notarized?

Cease and desist letters must be notarized to confirm authenticity of the letter's content and signer. Although cease and desist letters are not required to be notarized in all cases, it is a good idea when building a well-documented case against a company, individual or organization.

Cease and desist letters
Written requests are more formal
Since not all cease and desist requests pertain to the same thing, the need for notarization may vary. For example, a housing sale must include a notarized deed, but a letter to close a bank account may not. If in doubt about the necessity for notarization, directly consulting the requesting organization, a legal professional, a notary or state official may be advisable.

In terms of finance, cease and desist letters can be written to creditors, marketers, debt collectors and other agents of financially related infringement. In the case of government debt however, a cease and desist letter may not be considered legitimate even if it has been notarized because laws such as the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act relate to collection agencies.

Despite limitations on cease and desist letters, according to the New York State Consumer Protection Board, the Debt Collection Practices Act requires creditors to cease and desist communication with debtors upon being informed of the request. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act itself does not seem to indicate the requirement for notarization of cease and desist letters, however other laws within the U.S. Code may also apply.  

Sometimes a notarized cease and desist letter may not be as affective as a letter requesting to join the Direct Marketing Associations Mail Preference Service. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, signing up for this service helps reduce unsolicited mail containing advertisements. A similar service allows consumers to opt out of credit card offers via an opt out service.

Notarization of cease and desist letters must be provided in cases where a company requests it if the letter is to be effective. For example, when dealing with a debt resolution company, their service may require a notarized cease and desist letter in order to stop creditors from making collection calls. This can be done with or without the assistance of such a service and similarly, the creditor may also request notarization.

To summarize, a cease and desist letter must be notarized if specific circumstances require it. For example, if a credit card collection agency receives a certified mail containing a cease and desist letter, this may be sufficient. In other cases, the law may expressly require a cease and desist letter be notarized. State law and statutory federal law provide guidelines regarding necessity of notarization. Notary publics are required to be licensed in the state within which the notarization is sought.

Sources:

1. http://bit.ly/dtkWEX  (NYS Consumer Protection Board)
2. http://bit.ly/dw0zji     (National Notary Association)
3. http://bit.ly/cbbRdM (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)

Image license: H.L.I.T.; CC BY 2.0