How to Dispute Your Debt with a Debt Collector - dummies

How to Dispute Your Debt with a Debt Collector

By John Ventura, Mary Reed

You’re contacted by a debt collector. You don’t agree that you owe that much — or anything at all! What to do next to save your credit from crashing?

Send the debt collector a letter disputing it within 30 days of the debt collector’s initial contact with you. After the debt collector receives your letter of dispute letter, he must either provide you with written proof of the debt or cease all communications with you.

Although a debt collector is not required to respond within a specific period of time, you should expect that the response will be timely. After all, the debt collector wants to get debt payback from you as quickly as possible

As soon as you let a debt collector know that you dispute a debt, the debt collector must report the debt as “in dispute” to the credit bureaus with which he works. The fact that your debt is in dispute will remain in your credit history until the debt collector provides you with proof that you owe it and that the amount of the debt is accurate. The “in dispute” information could remain in your credit history for a couple months or even longer if you don’t accept the debt collector’s initial proof.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has responsibility for enforcing the FDCPA. Whenever a debt collector violates that law, you should file a complaint with the FTC. Although the FTC will not go after the debt collector on the basis of your complaint alone, if the federal organization receives enough complaints about debt collectors working for the same company, it will sue the company. Your complaint can help the FTC build its legal case.

You can file your FTC complaint online. You can also register your complaint by calling the FTC at 800-382-4357, or you can write to the FTC at Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.