Debt Collection Problems

Debt Collection Laws

How to Dispute a Debt with a Collections Agency

You have the right to dispute a debt when a collector contacts you. Maybe the debt is not yours, maybe it is but you dispute the account, or maybe you are unsure. You have an absolute right to dispute the debt. If a debt collection agency tells you that you can't or that your time is up to dispute the debt, that is untrue. Call us for a free consultation

You do have the right to dispute the debt - at any time.

When a debt collector first contacts you, they typically send you a letter telling you who they are, what debt they are collecting, and how much you owe. In that first letter you get from the debt collector, they must tell you:

  • That unless you dispute the debt within 30 days of the receipt of that letter, they can assume it is valid. That does not mean you cannot dispute the debt at all if you miss the 30 days. You can always tell them it is disputed. Also, just because they assume it is valid, that doesn't mean it is legally valid.
  • That if the you notify the debt collector in writing within the 30-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment you if there is one, and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to you by the debt collector. You can, within the first 30 days, demand that the collector validate the debt for you. That is, prove that there is a debt that you owe. If you send in a timely dispute, the debt collection agency must stop collecting the debt until they have provided that validation. Failing to do so, the debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you dispute the debt, then anytime the collector reports that debt to a credit reporting agency, then they must report that the debt is a disputed debt.
  • A statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. Lawyers collecting debts are under the same obligation to provide you validation. Remember, a debt collector presented with a timely (within 30 days of receiving your notice) demand for validation also must stop all collection activities until they provided the requested validation. Filing a lawsuit is a collection activity. That means they cannot sue you until they have validated the debt. You can dispute the debt over the phone when the collector calls you. The collector, at this time, does not have to validate the debt or provide you any documents, but at least they are on notice of the dispute, and must notify any credit reporting agency they communicate to that the debt is disputed. Dispute the debt in writing: see our sample letters for using to communicate with the collectors.