You just received your first letter from a debt collector. You’ve read through it. You might be confused about who is attempting to collect the debt or who the original creditor was. You may have no idea whether you owe the debt. You may not owe the debt at all and believe the debt collector is attempting to collect from the wrong person. You know you want more information and/or want to dispute the debt, but you are unsure about how to effectively do that.
You’ve come to the right place.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (in section 1692g) gives consumers the right to request verification of a debt. A consumer that wishes to verify a debt or request the name and address of the original creditor must do so in writing within30 days of receipt of the validation notice. When a consumer timely makes a written request for verification from a debt collector, the FDCPA prohibits the debt collector from continuing to attempt to collect the debt from the consumer from the time the debt collector receives the written verification request until the time the debt collector verifies the debt.
To effectively request verification of a debt under the FDCPA, you will need to write and send a letter to the debt collector. Follow these steps:
- Write your name, street address, city, state, and zip code in the upper left hand corner.
- Write the current date below your address.
- Write the debt collector’s name, street address, city, state, and zip code below where you wrote the date. This information should be provided in the debt collector’s letter.
- Write a greeting (e.g., “To whom it may concern:” or “Dear sir or madam:”).
- Write the body of your letter. State you are disputing the debt. State you are requesting verification of the debt. If you don’t know who the original creditor was, state that you are requesting the name and address of the original creditor. State you are requesting verification of the amount alleged by the debt collector, including the amounts that are alleged as principal, interest, fees, etc.
- In the body of your letter, include any information in your letter that is relevant to the reason why you are disputing the debt. A consumer that believes the debt collector is confusing her for another person will request different verification from a consumer that believes the alleged debt is too high because payments were not properly applied, the alleged interest is too high, alleged fees were improperly applied, etc.
- When you are satisfied with your letter, sign it with a pen with blue or black ink.
- Make a copy of the letter and keep it in a file with all correspondence from the debt collector.
- On a regular envelope, write your name and address in the upper left hand corner. The debt collector’s name and address should be written in the center of the envelope.
- Send the letter via certified mail with USPS (this will cost you a few extra dollars).
- Write the debt collector’s name and address on the date-stamped receipt you will receive from the post office.
- Keep certified mail receipt with your file of correspondence.
- After a reasonable time, enter the label/receipt number you received into the post office’s online “Track & Confirm” form to see if your letter was delivered. Once it is delivered, print (or otherwise save) a copy of the webpage that shows your letter was delivered.
And that’s that. It may take the debt collector a while before sending verification. If the debt collector attempts to collect on the debt prior to sending verification, contact Utah Consumer Rights Firm.