Debt Dispute Letters in Massachusetts

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Nearly half of all Americans have a debt that’s in collections.

If you receive a letter from a debt collection agency it will most likely contain a sentence or two notifying you that you have a right to dispute the debt within 30 days.

When you dispute your debt, all collection efforts must stop until the creditor verifies its claims.

According to 15 U.S.C. § 1692g (b), upon receipt of a borrower’s dispute letter “the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt…and a copy of such verification…is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”

In Massachusetts the law is even more favorable to debtors.

940 CMR 7.08 (2) states,

If the debtor, or any attorney for the debtor, notifies the creditor in writing within the 30-day period described in 940 CMR 7.08(1), that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the creditor shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the creditor verifies the debt and provides the debtor, or any attorney of the debtor, by first class mail, the following materials: (a) All documents, including electronic records or images, which bear the signature of the debtor and which concern the debt being collected; (b) A ledger, account card, account statement copy, or similar record, whether paper or electronic, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances, and charges concerning the debt, including but not limited to interest, fees, charges or expenses incidental to the principal obligation which the creditor is expressly authorized to collect by the agreement creating the debt or permitted to collect by law; (c) The name and address of the original creditor, if different from the collecting creditor; and (d) A copy of any judgment against the debtor. Pursuant to 940 CMR 7.08(2), the creditor must provide those materials described in 940 CMR 7.08(2)(a) through (d) which are in the possession, custody or control of the creditor. If the creditor does not possess, have custody of, or control the materials described in 940 CMR 7.08(2)(a) through (d), the creditor shall cease collection of the debt until the creditor has made reasonable efforts to obtain the necessary information and provide this information to the debtor.

Every debtor should force his or her creditors to comply with these laws and justify their claims.

Below is an example dispute letter a Massachusetts resident could use against collection agencies.

Acme Debt Collection                                                 May 21, 2019

RE: Dispute of Debt; Account # 123456789

Acme Debt Collection,

I hereby dispute the above-referenced debt.

Please provide me with copies of the following:

  1. A copy of my agreement to pay the original creditor
  2. A copy of the final account statement issued by the original creditor
  3. A breakdown of all other charges including collection costs. Please provide the date and the basis for each charge.
  4. All documents, including electronic records or images, which bear my signature and which concern the debt being collected
  5. A ledger, account card, account statement copy, or similar record, whether paper or electronic, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances, and charges concerning the debt, including but not limited to interest, fees, charges or expenses incidental to the principal obligation which the creditor is expressly authorized to collect by the agreement creating the debt or permitted to collect by law.

Sincerely,

John Doe

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email at justin@jrmccarthy.com.

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