A cease and desist letter doesn’t have a legal effect, but it’s a good way to start the process of preventing someone from continuing an activity that harms you.

With a cease and desist letter template, these documents are easy to write and are cost-effective, unless you need a lawyer to help you. 

What is a cease and desist letter for?

A cease and desist letter is used to stop the recipient from continuing their harmful action. If they don’t, you have written documentation that you notified them of the consequences of ignoring you. 

Common uses for a cease and desist letter

When you send a cease and desist letter, you’re asking them to stop engaging in an activity that is harmful to you. The letter should identify the specific activity and the potential consequences of ignoring your request. 

The consequences are often lawsuits, so this letter can be effective for getting someone to stop doing something that hurts you or your business, without the costs of litigation. 

Cease and desist letters can be used in a number of situations.

Infringement of an intellectual property right

Your ownership of intellectual property gives you specific rights. When someone uses your work with your consent, they are in breach of that right. This breach is called an infringement and can be stopped by sending a cease and desist letter. 

Debt collection services

If you’re being put through constant calls from a debt collection service or attorney, a cease and desist letter can be used to get them to stop harassing you if you cite the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 

Under this law, if you send a letter asking a debt collector not to contact you, they must stop or face statutory penalties. However, this does not eliminate your debt, which you still owe. The letter only works with debt collection agencies and attorneys, not in-house collections departments. 

Slander and Libel

If someone spreads rumours about you, you or your business could suffer from serious harm. These rumours are a form of defamation called slander if the statements are made orally and libel if they’re in writing. 

A cease and desist letter can make the recipient retract what they have said or published. Your letter should state the defamatory statement that has been made, the reasons why this is untrue, and the damage you have suffered. Give the recipient a deadline by which they should retract their statements before you take legal action. 


A cease and desist letter can also be used to prevent harassment. Depending on who is harassing you, the letter could cause the harasser to react badly, so use your judgement carefully before you send one. 

If you think a letter might make your harasser angrier, then you might be better going straight to the courts for a restraining order. Check the harassment laws in your state, so you know what your legal options are to deal with the problem other than a letter.

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