Managing Debt For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

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.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John Ventura: John is a best-selling author and a nationally boardcertified bankruptcy attorney. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law School and the director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the Law School.
As a young boy, John dreamed of becoming a Catholic priest so he could help everyday people, and he spent his high school years in a Catholic seminary. After graduating, however, John decided to achieve his dream by combining journalism with the law. Therefore, he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Houston Law School. Later, he and a partner established a law firm in Texas, building it into one of the most successful consumer bankruptcy firms in the state. He subsequently began a successful consumer law firm in South Texas.
Today, as Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center, he supervises law students as they help consumers with their legal problems. He is also a regular speaker at law conferences around the country and serves on the Bankruptcy Council for the Texas Bar Association.
John is the author of 13 books on consumer and small business legal matters, including Law For Dummies, 2nd edition; The Everyday Law Kit For Dummies; Divorce For Dummies, 2nd edition; and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). John has been interviewed about consumer money matters by numerous national media including CNN, NBC, NPR, Bloomberg Television & Radio, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Inc. Martha Stewart’s Living, Bottomline, Entrepreneur,,, and In addition, his comments and advice have appeared in major newspapers around the country, and he has been a frequent guest on local radio programs.

Mary Reed: Mary Reed is a personal finance writer who has coauthored or ghostwritten numerous books on topics related to consumer money matters and legal rights. The books she has coauthored with John Ventura include The Everyday Law Kit for Dummies, Divorce For Dummies, and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). Mary has also written for the magazines Good Housekeeping, Home Office Computing, and Small Business Computing, and she has ghostwritten numerous articles that have appeared in national and local publications.
Mary is also the owner of Mary Reed Public Relations (MR•PR), an Austin, Texas-based firm that provides public relations services to a wide variety of clients, including authors, publishers, attorneys, financial planners, healthcare professionals, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and nonprofits.
Prior to starting her public relations business and writing career 20 years ago, she was vice president of marketing for a national market research firm, marketing director for a women’s healthcare organization, and public relations manager for Texas Monthly, a national award-winning magazine. She received her MBA from Boston University and her BA from Trinity University in Washington, DC.
In her free time, Mary serves on the board of a community development corporation in her neighborhood. She also enjoys long morning bike rides, road trips with her husband, gardening, working her way through the stack of books by her bed, taking care of her six cats, and spending time with her family and many friends.

This article can be found in the category: