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Debt Collection Laws: How to Dispute a Debt Demanded by a Debt Collector

Legal Requirements of a Creditor’s Notification and Your Response


What a Debt Collector Must Tell You

A collector has five (5) days to notify you in writing, of:

  • The amount that you owe;
  • Who you owe the money to; and
  • What you need to do to dispute the debt.

You Must Respond in Writing to Dispute a Debt

To avoid further action, or contact by the collector, must respond in writing within thirty (3) days of receiving the debt notice. If you have any proof that the debt has been paid, you must also provide this as well.

Your letter and any proof disputing the debt, should arrive at the collector’s place of business within thirty days calendar days, do not wait until the last minute and rely on a post-mark date. It is always a good idea when disputing a debt, to send your letter certified mail and require a signature acknowledging receipt by the collector.

You Must Prove You Do Not Owe the Amount

If you dispute the amount owed within the thirty-day requirement, a debt collector may not contact you further, without sending proof of the debt first.

Unless you have sufficiently provided proof that the bill has been waived, paid, or is of a different amount, a debt collector can reopen your case simply by sending you a copy of the bill from the original creditor.

The burden of proof that the debt does not exist, or has been resolved, is on you.

Do Not Send Payment to the Original Creditor

Collectors do not always work for a creditor. Sometimes, they actually purchase the rights to your debt. This means that you now really owe the collector, and not necessarily the original creditor.

Unless you are specifically instructed to do so in writing, do not send a payment to the original creditor. You must send payment to the collection agency or other debt collector unless your notification letter indicates otherwise. If you do not send payment as requested, your payment may not be credited.

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