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Responding to a debt collector

Driven to distraction by a stray debt collector? Ignoring the calls or letters won't make the problem go away. You must respond and assert your rights.

Unfortunately, harassment, ominous letters and the threat of lawsuits are standard tricks of the trade employed by some unscrupulous collectors to dupe innocent people into paying up.

But, you don't have to take it. Many times, mistakes are made and a collection agency pops up, out of the blue, demanding payment for a debt you've paid off or never incurred. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you don't have to pay if they can't prove that you owe the money. Not only that, but the collection agency is prohibited from contacting you again on that debt.

The form letter below will help you dispute a debt with a collection agency. Just copy the body of the letter into a blank document and replace the words in brackets with your personal information.

[Your name]
[Address line 2]

[Name of collection agency]
[Address of collection agency]
[Address line 2]

RE: [Account number]

Dear Sir or Madam:

I'm writing in regard to your communication of [Date] in which you asserted that I owe a debt of [$  ] to [Creditor].

This letter is to inform you that I am disputing the validity of this debt, as is my right under Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Further, all collection efforts must cease until you verify the debt as being valid as delineated under Section 809(b) of the aforementioned act.

Please provide me with the following:

  • The name and address of the creditor.
  • Proof of my responsibility to this debt in the form of a bill or accounting from [Creditor] showing how the exact amount of the debt was incurred and all payments made on the account.

Please do not contact any credit reporting agencies until this debt is verified. If they have already been contacted regarding this matter, please notify them that I am disputing this debt. In the event that you cannot verify the debt, you should notify the credit reporting agencies of your findings.

Further communications should be in writing and limited to a notification of either: your failure to verify the debt and the closing of the matter; or consist of the records I have asked you to provide.


________________________________                    ________________________
Your name                                                                   date

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Aug. 25, 2006
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