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Do I Really Owe This Debt?

Last week I discussed debt collectors, why they might be contacting you, and how to stop them from contacting you.  Today, let’s talk about what to do if you don’t believe you owe the debt.

What does the collector have to tell me about the debt?

If a collector contacts you demanding payment on a debt they are required by law to provide certain information on the debt including:

  • How much money is owed
  • The creditors name
  • What to do if you do not believe you owe the money.

This collector must provide you this information in a written validation notice within 5 days after initial contact.

What do I do if I don’t believe I owe the debt?

You have thirty (30) days to respond to the written validation notice.  If you think you don’t owe the money or you want verification of the debt you can dispute the debt or request more information.  To do this you must send a written letter to the debt collector during the thirty (30) day period.  The collector must stop contacting you until it sends written verification of the debt. 

Be sure to date your letter and make a copy to keep for your records.  It is best to send this letter to the debt collector certified mail with return receipt so that you have proof that the debt collector received the letter.

How do I know if the debt collector is real?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a real debt collector and a fraudulent one, especially if the fake one has some of your personal information.  You might be speaking with a fake debt collector if they:

  • refuse to give a mailing address or phone number
  • asks for sensitive personal financial information
  • requesting payment on a loan or debt you don’t recognize
  • use high pressure tactics in an effort to get you to pay

Reports of people being contacted by agencies or people attempting to collect on loans that were never made or for amounts not owed are on the rise.  If you think you are speaking with a fraudulent debt collector ask for their name, company name, street address, and telephone number.  Request a written validation notice and do not discuss any debt till you receive the validation notice.  Do not provide or confirm any personal financial or sensitive information, this information can be used to commit identity theft.  Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission  and the state attorney general’s office.