Sample Letter For Disputing A Debt Collection Notice

Fair-Debt-Collection.com has a sample letter to use when disputing a debt with a debt collector. You would want to do this if the debt belongs to another person, the amount is wrong, the statute of limitations on the debt has expired, or you just feel like making them prove that they actually, legally, own the debt.

The site advises to send letters by “official mail – return receipt requested.” Also, they note that the collector is under no obligation to respond and oftentimes if they can’t verify the debt they will just sell it to another collector.

Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter

Today’s Date

Your Name
Your Address

Collector’s Name
Collector’s Address

Dear {insert name of collector or company},

I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated {insert date}, (copy enclosed) because I do not believe I owe what you say I owe.

This is the first I’ve heard from you, or any other company on this matter therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:

(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information:

* (1) the amount of the debt;
* (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
* (3) Provide a verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
* (4) Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert name of your state)

Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For instance, I know that:

* because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against me and mail these items to me at your expense;
* you cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
* you do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA;

Also be advised that I am keeping very accurate records of all correspondence from you and your company including recording all phone calls and I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have already reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB) then, you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act

1681s-2. Should you pursue a judgment without validating this debt, I will inform the judge and request the case be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA.

Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are also aware of my dispute with this debt.

Signature here
Your Printed Name

Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter [Fair Debt Collection Act] (Thanks to Lauri!)
(Photo: Waffler)

Comments

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  1. Shaggy says:

    …and what will probably happen is that the collections agency won’t accept the delivery of your letter. The law doesn’t say that they have to, so they won’t.

    We really need some debt reform in this country.

    • 420greg says:

      A copy of a refused certified letter will get the trade lines removed from your credit report ASAP, and Equifax, not sure about the other 2, will ban this collector from reporting any and all trade lines to them.

  2. Black Bellamy says:

    you don’t need them to accept delivery

    you need receipts that show that you made a good faith effort to send them that letter at their registered business address and it was refused

  3. beyond says:

    Send it return receipt requested. Even if they don’t sign it, they post office will send it back to you proving it was delivered. Copy it and write to the reporting agency with a letter saying the collection agency refused to verify the debt.

    Correct?

  4. Bruce says:

    If they previously refused a certified return receipt requested letter from you in the past, there is a very simple way to force them to accept a certified letter from you on your next try.

    You exploit their base instinct which is greed. Simply hand write on the front of the letter at a 45 degree angle: “Payment enclosed – Now get off my back!”. Include a few extra Exclamation marks to make it look as if you are upset.

    What debt collector in their right mind does not want to get paid? Naturally, they’ll sign the receipt for the letter and you’ve got your proof they were notified. The fact that there is no payment enclosed or that they fell for a classic Trojan horse exploit is not your problem.

    If companies are allowed to send me unsolicited junk mail with the appearance of overdue invoices for magazines I’ve never subscribed to or the Police mail wanted people “You won a prize! Show up here on Date/Time to collect your prize!”. Why can’t we use basically the same tactic in reverse?

  5. SOhp101 says:

    If you send it certified, that should be enough proof that you disputed the validity of the debt.

  6. jburland says:

    This letter needs a different structure.
    Key information is not easily identifiable.

    State that you’re disputing the debt
    State why you’re disputing the debt
    State what information you require.
    State what remedial action they are required to take.

    Only then refer to and quote the relevant laws and list your rights under them.

    The people working for debt collection agencies aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer – they need things spelling out really clearly.

  7. shoegazer says:

    @Bruce: Or better yet, write “check enclosed” and put one of those giveaway checks inside.

    @jburland: I would’ve wanted it even more obscure. Make it full of the kind of dense legalese that credit card companies love. That way you can nail them if they ever decide to go to court over debts you don’t owe.

  8. klondikedog says:

    I’ve used this successfully when I’ve been contacted by collectors for a 9-year old credit card balance. Despite having paid the balance (albeit 5 years late) I regularly get letters and calls on this account. I have complete proof and Capital One has been very helpful when verification is needed. The problem I have with this is the junk debt buyers are looking at a jackpot for when someone does pay them. Okay, so I paid Capital One the complete amount (nice enough to knock off interest and fees) so who benefits from this money? Not the original debtor my credit report doesn’t improve- Anytime they get one of these letters the most a collector will send back is “You owe $1000 from a credit card account. Please select payment options.” Sorry- that ain’t validation.

  9. jeffj-nj says:

     
     
    I once had a $6k+ debt tacked on to my name, in spite of the fact it was not my debt. Every time they (Target Visa) called, I told them the debt was not mine and that I was not going to pay it. They reported it to all 3 credit monitoring agencies, and that sucked, of course, but I really didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t mine. Every time I said that it wasn’t my debt, and I was therefore never going to pay one cent of it, I was transferred to fraud, explained the story again, and was told they would take care of it.

    Sure enough, a few months later, they’d call again.

    Eventually, Target Visa stopped calling. That’s when debt collectors started calling instead. Naive as I was, and powerless as I felt, all I could do was continue to tell the debt collectors that the debt was not mine and that I was never going to pay it. Whether I knew it to be true or not, I told every one of them that they would never see a single dime of that debt until they figured out who else they were getting that dime from, and there was nothing they could do about it.

    This went on for years. The phone calls were short, and there was usually long gaps between them, but nevertheless, this went on for years.

    The last call I ever received from anyone regarding this was, thankfully, a few years ago now. That collector offered to make everything “go away” for about $4k, substainally less than the original $6k debt (which, again, I remind you was never my own).

    To the very best of my memory, I responded like this…

    “Really? Four thousand and some odd dollars? Wow. So you’re basically just going to make a third of this debt disappear? Okay, wow. That seems like a pretty good deal. No one has ever offered that before. Let me tell you, if this was actually my debt, I’d probably take you up on that offer. Here’s the thing, though. That’s not my debt. It never has been, and it never will be. I know you don’t know me. I know you’ve never called me. I know you’re just an employee at yet another debt collection agency. So, let me catch you up on a few things. I first heard about this years ago. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many people have called me, or how many companies this debt has been passed through. I’m guessing you’re all getting a little desperate now, since you’ve dropped the amount owed so far, but I’m still not paying you anything. And, let me tell you why. You just interupted me watching Law & Order {note: that was true}. Now, on it’s face, that might not sound like much, but I want you to consider everything that plays into making that statement true. I have a television, which I paid for. Check my records. I have cable, which I’m paying for. Check my records. I have electricity, which I’m paying for. I’m sitting on a couch, in my apartment, on my phone, with you, all of which I’ve paid for. Check my records. Seriously, check them. You have access to all of my records, don’t you? Check them. Call American Express. Call Cablevision. Call PSE&G, Verizon, whoever. Ask yourself why absolutely every single bill I’ve ever been issued has always been paid in full. Ask yourself why I don’t owe any money at all to anyone except Target. And, ask yourself why this is more than just late. This is more than just a past due balance. I’ve never paid a thing on this account. Ever. Not even once. Ask yourself why that could possibly be. Ask yourself if there is any explination at all whatsover aside from this not being my debt. Then call me back.”

    I hung up.

    Surprisingly enough, I have never heard from anyone ever again since then.

    Even more surprising, that debt isn’t even on my credit report any more.

    I kid you not.

  10. jeffj-nj says:

     
     
    Oh, I forgot to mention… Thank you for that sample letter.

    Should this ever happen again, I’ll definitely send one of those instead.

  11. nobodygrrl says:

    Here’s another useful tip for those of you who have lawyer friends who are willing to help you out: under the FDCPA, if you advise the debt collector of the name and address of an attorney who is representing you in connection with the dispute, the debt collector is prohibited from communicating directly with you (they can only go through the attorney). That should stop the phone calls, harassing letters, etc.

  12. TheGoodReverend says:

    There’s some fairly good info in the letter, but I hope readers will edit the letters they actually send a bit better. Hit the right points of law and you’ll sound knowledgeable, but do that while writing according to style rules and you’ll sound like a force to be reckoned with.

  13. bigmanoren says:

    Anyone have any experience using this method to dispute a state/city owed debt, as in something like a parking ticket (or rather, a large amount of parkign tickets) that has since been turned over to a collection agency?

  14. Noah_Bodie says:

    I suggest a simply debt validation letter. The legalistic letters tend to get ignored, and they look like you copied it off the Internet. I speak from experience, and I’ve talked to many others who report similar experience. Keep it simple.

    “You claim I owe you a debt. Under §809 FDCPA, I request validation of this debt.”

    I only give them name, address, and the account number they report. Don’t quote the law verbatim. A simple reference to the appropriate section carries more weight, IMHO.

    I haven’t had a problem with CMRRR letters being rejected. However, if you do get a CMRRR letter back unaccepted, save it and do NOT open it. File it away, and keep it. It could be argued that by NOT signing for CMRRR letters that the debt collector is attempting to circumvent FDCPA.

    You can also send it to the debt collector’s certified agent. They are required to sign for certified mail.

    Or you could send it via Fedex. Almost no one refuses a Fedex envelope.

  15. Noah_Bodie says:

    FDCPA applies only to consumer debt. Parking tickets are not consumer debt.

  16. Noah_Bodie says:

    Giving a debt collector the name of an attorney will only work if in fact the attorney is representing you.

  17. Noah_Bodie says:

    If you are getting abusive, nasty, harassing phone calls from debt collectors, then you really don’t wanna make them go away. You want to record them.

    Check this link to see whether you can record in your state. However, follow up and hunt down the current statute in your state. These statutes, in recent years, have been tweaked in many state. Google is your friend, and the statutes are likely online for every state.
    [www.rcfp.org]

    Sometimes you can tape without notifying the other party. Sometimes you have to notify. In a few states, you have to get the other party’s consent. If you have to notify or obtain consent, get that notification or consent on tape.

    If you have to notify or get consent, don’t let that deter you from taping. Many debt collectors are quite brazen and believe consumers are bluffing when they threaten to tape. Follow up and do it. A consumer lawyer will be very interested in talking with you after you catch a debt collector violating FDCPA on tape.

  18. gawkimo says:

    Also please make sure to print the letter in 4-point Helvetica.

    If you don’t have a printer handy then write it with crayons on colorful construction paper — draw pictures in the margins of a sun, trees, mommy and daddy, your pet, etc.

  19. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Shaggy:
    At this point we pretty much need EVERYTHING reform in this country.

  20. PoppaPeeNutButter says:

    I was contacted by a debt collector agency concerning a debt I negotiated a settlement with two or three years ago and paid it off. They claim I still owe 400.00. I verbaly disputed the debt and followed it up with a registered debt dispute letter. That was over a month ago. Today I received a letter form the original credit card company telling me, “Thank you for your recent inquiry. Based on the timeliness of your request and/or the availibility of the documents, we are respectfully declining your request for statements.” What now? Is that the end of it?
    This caught me completely by surprise.

  21. onestrangeknight says:

    What changes in one of these letters if I have accepted the debt calls and made appointments. It has also been more than thirty days since I was notified. Can I stop mid-process and send this letter anyway? Have I legally gutted myself by agreeing to set up payment plans?

  22. onestrangeknight says:

    I was contacted more than thirty days ago and have set up payment plans with these people. Have I legally hamstrung myself or can I still use this process to try to get them off my back?

  23. @PoppaPeeNutButter: I would imagine that at that point, they can’t make you pay off the claimed remaining debt if they refuse to prove to you that you still owe it.

  24. TiffanyKhawam says:

    Here’s a question:

    A while back, for two years I had a collections agent call me every morning
    at 8am. When I asked her (yes, it was the same lady every day) to send me
    proof in writing that I owed the debt, I was refused. When I asked them to
    give me an address so that I could “send them payment” I was refused. They
    always wanted a credit card number. They always blocked their Caller ID. I
    knew nothing about her or her company at all. This was all over $30, but I
    don’t pay people I don’t owe.

    So what could someone do in this situation as I’m sure that same lady is
    still out there harassing people.

  25. afallon says:

    5 years my mother started getting calls and mail from two debt collectors over two debts that Citibank now owns–one is for 85.00 and the other is for 192.00 both Gasoline Companies–(I just answer the phone and say I’m my mother–we sound just alike and she was sick at the time the calls first started–her short term memory has suffered enough ever since that we don’t trust her taking the calls and she usually just hangs up if she does answer)

    I ask them every time they call (they hang up if my husband answers)to send me proof of debt–the original Company name and so on—at first for several years they just made excuses–they didn’t have access to the original account information and then stopped calling for a while. Of late it’s three companies and one has changed hands two of three times. One of these is always trying to leave a message on the privacy directory I have on the phone–she always hangs up before I can accept the call–so who knows what she is collecting for. One of the other two has not called since I asked for the info (but they probably will call again) in writing and reported them to the FTC. The other collector trying to get 85 measly dollars –sent a notice threatening taking her to court–that she has refused to pay for more than 30 days.
    And the info I requested –all it says is Citibank and gives an account number–no dates–no name of original creditor.

    These calls are two and three times a week through all sorts of devices to get passed my privacy directory.

    And here the clincher—the statute of limitations in this state is 6 years–I’m sure that both debts were incurred before 2000. One of which was most certainly settled.

    I’ve been sorely tempted to pay them to shut them up.

  26. afallon says:

    Right after I posted the above–I got two calls in two days with one of the collectors–first hung up–always pretends I am getting rude. Next day same place calls (first number unknown on Caller ID – 2nd says FNCB Inc with same 775 area code). On 2nd call I tell her about the harassment rules–she want me to send her the info about them not being able to continue to call me if I send them a letter–I told her it was clearly written out at the FTC website. And then I explain that she must send me all the original account info (and this is not the first time I have asked this very company for this–it’s a BP credit card–that I settled the debt on or so I thought). Once again this company says she is not required to send me any info on the original debt–that I would have to contact BP myself to get that info (cagey eh)and all this debit collector is required to do is set up a way for me to pay this bill. And I also suggested it was passed the 6 year date for this state and she said yes it was but that they could call me forever in an effort to collect that debt–they just couldn’t take me to court.

    • 420greg says:

      My son had a kidney transplant years ago and after the dust settled, and the insurance companies paid what they thought they owed, I ended up with 18 collections on my credit report. Most of it small stuff like lab work, doctor visits, x-rays, etc. All of it should have been paid by my insurer since i was over my catastrophic cap.

      Not one of the 18 collectors on my report were licensed to collect in the State of Florida.
      Florida requires a $50,000 cash bond to be put on deposit to settle any lawsuits against them.

      Junk buyers are not big fans of giving State Governments $50,000 to sit on.
      Since they were not licensed to collect in Florida, I informed the CRA since they were not licensed to collect, how could they possible report to a Florida residents credit report?

      After about 6-8 all of them were off my credit report. And I never heard about any of the debts ever again. I have helped a few friends with some credit repair and NEVER has a collector been able to prove they were licensed to collect in Florida and prove they have paid the cash bond. A few lied that they were, but a quick check of sunshine.biz proved they were lying.

      A quick Intent to Sue letter sent the back in to their holes.

  27. Gerri_Detweiler says:

    I agree with Bruce and Noah that this letter is far too detailed. It screams “credit repair.” I can see a debt collector rolling her eyes when she gets letters like this.

    Keep your request for verification simple, straightforward and to the point. You don’t have to sound like an armchair attorney.

    But if the company doesn’t provide the verification required, then you can certainly make an appointment with a real one.

  28. Elle Thomas says:

    Well with the current economy they are now attacking the middle class so all of this is going to come to a head. This is why I am partially happy the middle class is getting fired and laid off because now these people are getting attacked by the same mom and pop collection agencies that were attacking the poorest of the poor in this country. Believe me it is going to get a hell of alot worse before it gets better.

  29. DrRamblings says:

    99.98% of debt collection agencies are scumbags, though you would be too if you had to collect cents on the dollar. I had an agency call me a number of times because I was listed as a reference by the debtor, unbeknownst to me.They were trying to convince me that since the person wouldn’t pay, that they would come after me, even though they had no proof I agreed to cover his debt.

    They will get nasty, aggressive, etc….but just stick to the law and keep it simple (no armchair lawyering like was mentioned above). One certified letter referencing the appropriate statutes and a statement to direct all further contact through my lawyer was enough for them to let it go. For good measure I filed complaints with the state and BBB. I’m sure nothing came of it, but it didn’t take much time.

  30. sj_user1 says:

    Bravo! As consumers we need to boycott companies that pass off or sell their debts to unethical debt collectors. It is too easy for the big banks to wash their hands of the issue. We need to make them take the publicity hit for their actions.

  31. Hmmmmm needs more WarOtter says:

    I read that you shouldn’t sign the letter as some shady collection agencies may use it to forge documents. Thoughts?