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Have you received a letter from a debt collector?

If so, here’s how to dispute it.

Your Rights

First, know your rights.

You have 30 days to dispute a creditor’s claims.

The dispute should be done in the form of a letter.

The letter should be sent to the creditor or the creditor’s collection agency via certified mail.

If the creditor fails to respond to your dispute letter, then you may have legal claims against the creditor if the matter goes to court.

Dispute Letter

Debt can be collected by the creditor directly or by the creditor’s agent—usually a debt collection agency or an attorney.

Your dispute letter should be sent to whoever is attempting to collect the debt.

In the letter’s subject line clearly identify the account at issue.

Include the following:

  1. Your name
  2. Your account number with the creditor
  3. If the collection agency has its own account or file number, include that as well

Keep in mind that for many large creditors and debt collection agencies you’re just a number.

So it’s important that you get the numbers associated with your account correct.

The first line of the letter should clearly state that you are disputing the debt.

For example, “I hereby dispute this debt.”

You should then demand that the creditor or its agent provide you with copies of the following:

  1. The original agreement or contract between you and the creditor
  2. A breakdown of what is owed to the creditor—principal, interest, late fees, etc.
  3. If the creditor or the creditor’s agent has added collection costs or legal fees, you should also ask for a breakdown of those expenses.

Finally, you should demand that all collection calls stop immediately.

Additional Options

If you believe that the creditor or its agent used “unfair or deceptive” business tactics against you, consider sending an additional letter based on M.G.L. c. 93A.

Here’s a link to the state’s website explaining how 93A works.

You may also want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The complaint form is easy to fill out and you’ll usually get a response from the CFPB within a couple weeks.

Lastly, if the creditor has damaged your credit score by making a negative credit report against you, then you may have additional claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.