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Ask Debt Collectors for Proof of Your Debt

When a debt collector contacts you about a debt, he must send a written statement of your right to request written verification of the debt and your right to dispute the debt.

Request verification of the amount money you owe and to whom you owe it if the debt is not yours or you think that you owe less money than the debt collector wants you to pay. When asking for proof, remember these tips:

  • Always put your verification request in writing.

  • Ask the debt collector to respond to you in writing.

  • Ask the collector to verify the original amount of the debt that is still owed and any interest, late fees, and collection fees. Ask him to itemize each amount instead of presenting the debt as a lump sum.

    According to the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the FDCPA, the No. 1 complaint about debt collectors is that they try to collect more money than the consumers really owe.

  • Make a copy of the letter for your files, and send the request via certified mail with a return receipt requested. That way, you know when the letter was received. If the debt collector never responds with the verification, you have proof that the debt collector violated the FDCPA.

Some states limit the kinds of debt-related expenses a debt collector can charge consumers. Find out if your state has such limits by getting in touch with your state attorney general’s office or with a consumer law attorney.

Also, the contract you signed with your original creditor —the creditor who turned your debt over to a collection agency or sold the debt to the agency — may limit the fees that you can be charged. If you do not have a copy of the contract, ask the debt collector for a copy. Get in touch with a consumer law attorney if the debt collector does not respond to your request or says he does not have a copy either.

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