Why We Recommend Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested When Dealing With Consumer Protection Issues

Why We Recommend Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested When Dealing With Consumer Protection Issues


Why should you use certified mail?

Whenever you communicate with a debt collector, credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, etc), or your mortgage company, we always recommend that you do so by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Sometimes our clients want to know why is it so important and why is it not good enough to just fax or mail a letter in a cheaper manner.  Or send an email.

The answer is with anything other than certified mail, it can become difficult to prove the collector or credit reporting agency or mortgage company received it.

We love email but with spam filters, it is not certain that the right person receives your email.

We love faxes but sometimes the fax confirmation sheet will not prove the company received it.

The only way to ensure, to make sure, that the collector or reporting agency received your communication is to send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

Examples Of Using Certified Mail

So let’s say you are dealing with a debt collector.  You should consider sending a dispute letter as a good starting point.  Certified keeps them honest — otherwise, they will lie about receiving your letter.

Or you are trying to repair your credit by getting rid of credit reporting errors.  Once you have your reports (find out how to get them for free here), you identify the errors, then send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agencies and normally to the furnisher.  Send it certified or these guys will throw it away and say you never sent it.

Perhaps you are dealing with your mortgage company.  Sending request for information or notice of error letters.  Or trying to do loss mitigation.  Use certified mail.  These companies are so bad they have been caught lying about getting Fed Ex packages so you can imagine how they will lie if you send it by regular mail.  Protect yourself and send it by certified mail.

Do you see a theme — send it by certified (or Fed Ex or UPS) to make sure they won’t lie.  Or if they do lie, they will look bad.

What Do You Get With Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested?

When you send out your dispute letter this way you make sure that the collector or agency actually get the letter.

The company has to sign the green card and date it.

This means you know exactly who received it and when they received it.

Out of all of our cases, we only had one defendant deny getting the certified mail.

When we showed them the signed receipt (signed green card) the lawyer for the defendant argued it was someone else in the building that signed his client’s name to it.

When we pressed, the lawyer caved on this because of the effectiveness of using a certified mail sent return receipt requested.

One of our clients, before she hired us, had a fascinating experience with certified mail.  She was in court with a collection law firm and here was the conversation:

Client:  Judge, I did send the letter to the collection lawyer.

Collection Lawyer:  We never got it.

Judge:  Do you have proof?

Client:  Yes I sent it certified mail.  Here’s the green card.

Judge:  Well, what do you say Mr. Collection Lawyer?

Collection Lawyer:  We never got it.

Client:  Peter Jones signed for it at Collection Lawyer’s office.

Collection Lawyer:  We don’t have Peter Jones at our office — we never got it.  Someone must have stolen the certified mail and signed Peter Jones to it.

Judge:  That’s unlikely.

Client:  Judge, I do have another letter I sent certified six months later.  Here’s the green card — Peter Jones signed for it again.

Judge:  So, Mr. Collection Lawyer you are claiming that the same thief Peter Jones stole two certified letters six months apart from Client?

Collection Lawyer:  Uh……

The judge then hammered the collection firm.  The power of the certified mail!  🙂

How Does Certified Mail Work In A Trial?

We have seen companies of all sizes and sorts take the position that the critical email, fax, or mail did not make it to them.

Thus, it comes down to who does the jury believe.

This is why having the signed green card is so important.

If a collection agency or Equifax or Trans Union or anyone else wants to argue about receiving your letter, and they signed the green card, then their credibility is seriously in doubt.  Like in the example above.

We all understand the trustworthiness of the US Postal system.

Yes, we sometimes complain but think of it – for a couple of quarters, a government worker takes your letter and personally delivers it anywhere in the country with astonishing accuracy.

Add to this making the other person sign for it and it becomes very difficult for the defendant to deny receiving it.

You have their signature or in the case of a business more likely a stamp – “Equifax” or “Experian” or “NCO.”

To deny that is sort of like the famous incident with the talented Charles Barkley who said he was misquoted in his biography.



That’s a hard sell…


If you have something worth sending that may end up in litigation – send it certified mail.

Don’t save a couple of bucks and cost yourself thousands or tens of thousands of dollars because you have given the defendant something to argue.  Send it certified mail, return receipt requested, and lock down the receipt of your letter.

When you are in litigation or getting close to trial, you will be thankful you did.

Feel free to contact us.

If you live in Alabama and you have any questions dealing with abusive debt collectors or mortgage companies or credit reporting agencies, feel free to contact us.  We’ll be glad to help you figure your options, including suing these guys when they break the law.

You can call us at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts


  1. shelley says:

    what to do? I sent ceritified, but the boyfriend or our person in household signed not the person i sent it to. it was an alimoney check!

    • JohnGWatts says:


      You can restrict the signature to the person you want to sign.

      Ultimately you can’t prevent someone from signing someone else’s name unless the postal worker requires ID which I’ve never seen before.

      Is this person you sent the money to claiming to have not received it? Who cashed the check?

      Probably need to get with your divorce lawyer to figure out your options.

      Best wishes

      John Watts
      Birmingham, Alabama

    • David Nelson says:

      The RRT still shows beyond a doubt that it got to that address and when, the only doubt would be what said signaturee did with it. And if you were to convey or send a copy of the little green paper, the person who was suppose to get that check would figure it out. Especialy if they wanted that check. If it was cashed by who, get a copy of the check and send it with a copy of the RRT. Let them figure it out, your covered that it got there with the Certified RRT most of the time. If the check was cashed 100% of the time. The certified RRT covers your behind. That is what we use it for.

  2. we sent a letter certified return receipt requested and the post office made one unsuccessful attempt to deliver.
    the letter then remained in the post office for 16 days until we called to request redelivery (which the post office failed to do). We have contacted the post office a second time to request redelivery.
    What is not clear is that the SENDER has to be the one to contact the post office to request redelivery attempts if the recipient does not contact them.
    this has not been helpful to us at all!

    • JohnGWatts says:


      Sorry you had a bad experience. No perfect solutions but normally the US Postal Service is much more on the ball than what you experienced.

      Thanks for the comment and warning — if you send certified mail make sure it actually gets delivered. A good reminder indeed!


      John Watts

  3. Cindy says:

    I got a bill from a collection agency and I need help in writing them a letter disputing the debt. Please help

    • John Watts says:


      If you live in Alabama, contact my office if you like — 205-879-2447. If you live in another state, you can check out NACA.net to find an attorney in your state. I think you are very smart to want to send a dispute letter on any collection agency collection letter you get. It is not right, but some collection agencies will argue if you don’t send a dispute letter, you admit you owe it. This is not the law but some judges get confused on this so best to not give them the chance to be confused.

      Best wishes

      John Watts
      Watts & Herring, LLC
      Birmingham, Alabama

  4. […] better approach is to dispute in writing.  Send a letter by certified mail telling the collector that you dispute the debt.  Be sure to keep a signed copy of your […]

  5. Dorris Craig says:

    I sent a certified return receipt letter cancelling a costly contract, as instructed and allowed within three days, to the contract holder, who claims to be absent when two unsuccessful deliveries were made so far. I am suspicious he is trying to force payment.Regardless of his not receiving the letter, does my dated receipt prove I am acting legally to cancel the conract?

    • John Watts says:


      I can’t answer that without knowing more details and where you are but in general terms if you were given a 3 day right of rescission, and you exercised that right by sending a letter as instructed, then I don’t think the seller can avoid it by not picking up the certified mail.

      I suggest following up with the seller and making sure you understand his intentions and whether he is trying to say you did not cancel the contract.

      If it doesn’t work out the right way, then definitely get with a lawyer in your area to give you some advice.

      Let us know how this works out for you….

      Thanks for your comment

      John Watts
      Birmingham, Alabama

  6. Shonda scroggins says:

    I used a vet in August. I paid them $500 cash deposit and $385 went on a credit card. The sane night I paid them $500 another client paid $500 with a check and credit card. The vet admits to making a mistake and switching our account numbers but now they say I still owe them $500. The day I left with my dog they gave me a receipt which states I left there with a zero balance. Two weeks after receipt I get the call from them stating they made the mistake and want me to pay $500 again. I filed complaints with the AL consumer protection agency and the BBB to no avail. Today I got a certified letter from them. I don’t know what to do and the lawyers I have called in Anniston are not interested in helping me. Can they legally come after me saying I owe them when I have my receipt showing I paid and left with $0 balance?

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you are dealing with this.

      If you don’t owe the vet any money, then you don’t owe any money. It sounds like from your comment that you paid a total of $885 which was the total bill. Is this correct?

      But now the vet says you owe an additional $500 because of a mix up in the receipts.

      What is the vet saying about why you owe money when you believe you don’t?

      I usually recommend putting in writing — and sending by certified mail — exactly what the problem/situation is and then see what the reaction is by the vet. So you put in writing what happened and enclose a copy of your receipt. Ask the vet’s office to respond to you in writing and explain why you still owe money.

      Feel free to contact my office at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be glad to learn more about your situation either before or after you send the certified letter. Do check your credit reports to make sure there is not any false information reporting on them — you can go to http://www.AnnualCreditReporting.com to pull your reports for free.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  7. Lori says:

    I got an email from a past tenant of my home. He had stayed in the house without paying rent and requested in certified mail that the pro-rated rent for the unpaid month be deducted from the security deposit, leaving a very small balance that I was to send him. He then did not show up for the inspection. He now claims he did not get my small refund, and sent a certified letter that I never received, and is claiming to sue me for double the original security deposit amount.
    If no one signs for a certified letter, and it is returned to the sender, is the intended recipient still responsible for the terms of the letter that they didn’t get? any other advise?

    • John Watts says:


      I’m not sure what state you are in and I don’t practice landlord tenant law so I suggest you get with someone in your state who does practice in this area.

      In general not signing for a certified mail is not the same as being “served” or being charged with knowledge of the contents. But really it depends on the situation.

      In Alabama I doubt he would be charged with the knowledge but you may want your lawyer to bring this up in the lawsuit as it probably would make a difference to the judge.

      Best advice is get with a lawyer who can represent you as most rules in the law have exceptions (and sometimes exceptions to the exceptions….)

      Best wishes and thank you for your comment.

      John Watts

  8. Heather Westley says:

    I sent a certified letter to my landlord for my rent and I know they received the letter but no longer have the green card they signed. Is there anything I can do to get a copy

  9. Chase Elvington says:

    Hello I sent a certified mail with a money order in it. Its for a car payment that before I just paid the people cash but the guy I usually pay wasnt there last month and she said I never gave to her. In short there was another credible adult there that said they seen me hand the cash to her and she put in wallet. She then magically found it but will mailing certified mail protect me. Our contract says if im 30 days late they can repo and at this point I have over $5,000.00 payed for a $8,000.00 loan. I always pay (2 weeks early) I just dont wanna lose my car when I know I have equity in it. Any thoughts?? If there is a better way to protect me then im open for ideas

  10. Isnt there a way to mail a envelope beyond certified reciept or return reciept which proves the contents of envelope were actually mailed instead of say if in federal court and delivery of contents were called into question,I remember reading something about this a few years back and it was something to do with having witness watch you prepare to mail contents or something to that effect? any help greatly appreciated by victim of internal mail tampering as well as Identity theft at this time.Thank You In Advance for helpful Information on this issue.

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your question. I’m not familiar with any rule about someone watching you. The general rule is if you put a letter in the mailbox it is presumed mailed. But if the other person never gets it, then that rule is “overcome” by the other person testifying they never received it.

      So if someone is tampering with the mail so it never makes it to the person you sent it to, then that’s a problem to take up with the Postmaster as they tend to take that very seriously.

      If you are dealing with identity theft, do keep in mind that you can fix identity theft on your credit reports in 3 steps:

      1. Pull your credit reports.
      2. Dispute in writing (certified mail) and include a fraud affidavit/ID theft affidavit as well as a police report
      3. If the false accounts are not removed, sue in federal court under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

      Thanks for your question and sorry I am not familiar with exactly what you are talking about but I hope this response is at least a bit helpful.

      John Watts

  11. vicki says:

    If you are sent a certified letter and there was no one home to sign for it will the postman leave a note stating that they tried to deliver you a certified letter but there was no one home to sign for it and that they will try to deliver again or that you should come to the post office to sign for it and pick it up

    • John Watts says:


      My suggestion is call the post office — sometimes they will redeliver it but other times they won’t and you have to go pick it up at the post office.

      There may be a standard rule but it seems like there is variation among the different offices so I would call.

      Thanks and hope you have a great day!

      John Watts

  12. Michael says:

    Given that the Postal Service is going to ERL and signature Guarantee with Priority Mail is also available with electronic signatire (the signature is available on the Post Office’s website), wouldn’t you say that the days of Certified Mail are numbered to be replaced with electronic signature tracking?

    • John Watts says:


      Good points and question. We’ll see how things develop. Right now I still prefer certified mail and getting a physical green card back. We can always track it online but nice to have a physical signature for when the debt collector, mortgage company, etc. lie about not getting the letter.

      Having said that you raise some very good points and I appreciate your comment!

      John Watts

  13. guest says:

    What happens if the mail person just drops the certified letter in your mailbox, without getting your signature, and I find the green card is missing from the letter?

    • John Watts says:

      If you received the letter, not much you can do. If you sent the letter, then its very annoying. If you let the post office know they normally take these things pretty seriously.


      John Watts

      • guest says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        In my case, I received a money order from a debt that was owed to me by an individual. So I was happy to receive it.

        After I threatened to take them to court, they sent me a money order. BUT – they sent it AFTER I filed with the court. In other words, they were so late with paying me, that I sued them, then they sent the money order, which I never signed for and didn’t find it in my mail until after I returned from vacation.

        So, my question is – can he prove the I received the money order, on the day the return card says it was delivered to me – if I didn’t sign for it and it was just dropped in my mailbox? His return green card would say I received it when it was dropped.

        • guest says:

          Correction, they sent if BEFORE I filed with the court, but I received it AFTER I filed with the court (because I did not sign for it and just found it in my mailbox after I filed the complaint).

  14. Scott Holzrichter says:

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015
    Filename “Holzrichter v. USPS et al., 2015-M1-119319, August 14, 2015, Cook Co., IL, Circuit Court Municipal Dept. 1st Dist.pdf” is a copy of a complaint recently filed against the U.S.P.S. in Illinois. It can be found at https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/877a05da-20c2-46b6-9a21-5f67ecf2f8e7, and can be opened in an up-to-date version of Acrobat Reader.
    This case questions whether the U.S.P.S. is still a reliable purveyor of electronically certified mail, let alone Return Receipt Requested Certified mail…. Note that, although RRR Certified mail is about 13 times the cost of First Class Mail, it seem no more reliable while having more means to question its delivery.

    • John Watts says:

      Very interesting. Let us know how it turns out for you. I’ve never had a problem with certified mail and my clients haven’t either but good to know about your situation. Thanks for sharing.

      John Watts

  15. Russ Sparks says:

    I recently sent a certified letter of dispute concerning a bogus debt posted on my wife’s credit report, to the responsible collection agency, but they have to date failed to sign for it on their end of the spectrum. I’ve read that a second certified letter or one sent through Fedex is the next step and that I should mark the envelope “Second Notice”. Is sending a second certified letter the next logical step?

    We are Alabamians and the debt collector is in South Carolina. We have opened a dispute with the credit bureau.

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your question.

      Short answer is contact us directly (205-879-2447 — ask for Carolyn) and we can go into more details.

      But general answer is you can apply pressure in two ways.

      First, go after the debt collector. So yes a second letter would be a natural next step. You can also call and document the call — dispute it and ask them what is going on and why they have put this on your wife’s credit report.

      Second, apply pressure through the credit reporting agencies (make sure and check all three — http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com). Dispute through certified mail and copy (cc) the debt collector by certified mail.

      The reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) will either delete or contact the debt collector.

      Give us a call and we can walk you through it and see if it is appropriate to go ahead and sue the debt collector.

      I just filed a case against Nationstar for putting a loan account on the wife’s credit report when she does not have a loan with Nationstar. They even admit she owes them nothing now in their legal pleadings but no apology for trashing her credit. We’ll see what the price of that is in federal court for Nationstar to pay.

      Thanks again for your comment and we’ll be glad to help you — I know how annoying this can be to deal with and it sounds like you are being very proactive so congrats on that!

      John Watts

  16. Nick david says:

    How do I get the green return request paper once they signed it.? Do they mail it to you or do you go get it at the post office where u sent it.?

    • John Watts says:


      Great question — you should get it in the mail. So typically you put your address on the card (PO will show you) so when it is signed, it will be mailed back to you. You can also check it out online.

      Hope that helps!


  17. judith mcnamara says:

    I have for 11+ yrs have disputed a bank. I sent a envelope to the CEO certified registered restricted delivery… someone else signed the for it not the CEO.
    I received notice by letter that another office in same CEO a reply. However they could of not read the contents
    because they replied to me from the same office I had been working with with no resolution. Also new documents were copied to show they were wrong in there letters dated 2015.. Can I sue both the person signing the green card and the persons receiving it/

    • John Watts says:


      I don’t know what the dispute is about but normally you can’t sue someone just because they signed the green card. You need to have what the law calls a “cause of action” to be able to sue the bank. And it is harder to sue individuals unless they have personally done something illegal to hurt you.

      Definitely get with a consumer protection attorney in your state to find out your options and to explain to them what your 11 year dispute is all about.

      Best wishes in getting this dispute solved and thanks for your comment/question.

      John Watts

  18. Francisco J. Proenza says:

    I once sent a certified mail, return requested, to a lawyer. He failed to accept receipt.

    This was not used in our dispute, but it made me wonder whether it was not better to just send the certified mail, without requesting return receipt. Please let me have your views on this.

    Also, since we are now in the labor day weekend and I want to send it right away, I intend to use Federal Express. I understand that this has the same effect as certifiedl US postal mail. Is this correct?

    • John Watts says:


      The benefit of return receipt is to prove they got it or rejected it. You can do a lot with the US Postal Service online showing delivery but it won’t show who signed for it (normally) without the return receipt.

      Fed Ex or UPS overnight is also good.

      Sometimes in legal cases there are times where FedEx etc is NOT the same as certified mail. You would need to ask your lawyer about that but if outside of litigation (a lawsuit) then I believe FedEx should accomplish the same thing. I find the overnight companies to be very reliable when we send out settlement funds to our clients, etc. Never had a problem.

      Thanks for your question….

      John Watts

  19. Cathy says:

    I received s certified letter in my ma
    il today. Tha green tag on the back was off and I did not sign for it. Is this acceptable ?

    • John Watts says:

      Cathy, normally you would have to sign the green card. I’m a bit surprised the post office got it to you like this — normally they hold the letter until you sign for it.

      Bottom line you received the letter — it is just the sender may not have an easy time proving you received it.

      Hope that helps and thanks for your comment!

      John Watts

  20. Damita says:

    I contacted a debt collection attorney’s office informing them I’d be late with the payment. Was told by them as long as I called them to let them know I’d be fine. I send out my payment certified mail receipt on 1/27/17 with it arriving to their office by 1/31/17. Today (2/15/17) I received a letter from their office reminding me that I have an outstanding balance and to avoid garnishment of my wages and bank account I need to call and make arrangements for payments??!! Come to find out no one at their office went to pick up the certified mail that I sent. I looked up the tracking # and it said max hold time expired and it was returned to the post office yesterday. I have proof of it being sent but these people failed to pick up my letter! I have called and left them a message and I plan on sending them copies of my receipts and the tracking information. Do I have any other options because this is bullcrap?!

    • John Watts says:


      Some of this can depend on what state you live in but, for example, here in Alabama, I think they would back off taking any action once they saw your proof.

      If the deal was to get the payment to them, and you did that, I doubt they will fight very hard on this.

      I think they would be in danger of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      Here’s a suggestion — send them the details and the payment and see if they will apply it as of the date they received it.

      If they give you any trouble, call us at 205-879-2447 (if you live in Alabama).

      Best wishes!


  21. Chrissy says:

    I paid off my credit cards bills in full but I sent my checks by certified mails so I can known exactly the delivery of the envelope with my payments considering that my payments was over 200.00 so when sending something important its best to send it certified so we as consumer can see all the locations thru tracking

    • John Watts says:

      Very good point Chrissy. It is an additional expense but it can be very valuable if you have a company that might claim you made your payment late, etc.


      John Watts

  22. Tamieka says:

    I am trying to serve divorce papers to someone and i sent it certified mail with return receipt. I was wondering if the person isn’t home and it is returned can i resend it and state that it be signed by who it is addressed to only and no one else?

    • John Watts says:

      I’m not sure what you can do as far as serving someone — it will depend on your state law. Usually with certified mail you can restrict the signature to who you send it to.

      But you’ll need to check out your state law for what is allowed under the service rules. If you don’t follow the service rules, then (at least in Alabama) the service is no good which means anything that happens after that may be worthless.

      Best wishes….

      John Watts

  23. Johnny says:

    Alabama Law requires that a certified letter be sent to a property owner before an HOA can file a lien(2016 Code of Alabama Title 35-property Chapter 20- Alabama Homeowners’ Association Act). HOA management sent certified letter. They show the post office attempted to deliver it three times then it was returned to sender. However, letter was not received and not signed for by homeowner. Is this a legal notice in Alabama? The lien was filed WITHOUT notification to the homeowner.

    • John Watts says:


      That’s a great question and I don’ know the answer. I haven’t had any HOA issues come up in the last few years.

      But if the law says certified mail, then they would need to send it to the last known address of owner I suspect. That would be the property unless the owner had told the HOA to use another address (maybe had renters in the property, etc).

      Normally in the law if someone just refuses to pick up certified mail, then at some point they are considered to have received notice. In other words, we don’t want people just refusing to pick it up and claiming they knew nothing about it. That would prevent notice from ever happening.

      So I would want to know if the homeowner got notice of the certified mail, did they refuse to pick it up, did they know from other ways (regular mail, etc) that the HOA was trying to get them, etc.

      If you want to, contact us and give us the details and we’ll look into this for you if you need any legal help.


      John Watts

  24. I have sent six certified letters requesting association’s official records from June 2016 – May 19,2017 but have not been provided with my requests. My last letter of May 4,217 was sent via email and I received a certified letter from management telling me “I WIILL BE BLOCKED FROM ALL OF MY EMILS as not sent certified. The Florida Statues LAW stipulates. “THERE IS NO LAW IR RULE IN THE FLORIDA STATUS THAT STAztES. “OWNERS MUST SEND CERTIFIED MAIK” – my legal rights have been denied. Do you agree?

    • John Watts says:


      I’m not sure as I don’t practice in Florida. Sometimes the statue says one thing and the court opinions interpret it in a different way so I would get with a Florida lawyer to figure out your options.

      Sorry I can’t help you directly.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  25. brian says:

    what if they say, “the certified mail we received did not contain the documents that he claims it did.” Does the judge just take you at your word for that?

    • John Watts says:

      Great question Brian — best practice is to have a scanned copy of exactly what you put in the letter. And a hard copy that you print out and put in a folder with the green card when you get it back.

      Ultimately it comes down to credibility. The more you can show it is certain you put in the letter, the more likely you will be believed.

      When dealing with companies that we know are crooked (example: mortgage companies) we often have our clients video putting the letters in the envelope and then sealing it.

      At some point the companies that deny receiving anything look like even more of liars which makes it worse for them.

      Hope that helps!

      John Watts

  26. Maria says:

    I made a mistake. The envelope I sent was addressed to the correct suite number. Nevertheless, when I wrote the address on the Green Receipt, I wrote a different suite number. Where is my mail going to get to? The address I wrote on the green receipt? or the address I printed on the envelope?

    Thank you.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m not sure what the post office will do with that. You should call them or track it online to see where it was delivered to. I simply don’t know how they handle that but I’m sure its come up many times.

      When you find out, would you do a follow up comment so we’ll know the answer?


      John Watts

  27. Kina says:

    I sent divorce papers, certified with return receipt. I never received the return receipt. I contacted the postal service and they stated that they couldn’t find it but had an electronic signature and would print that. Will the courts accept the electronic signature vs. the green card signature?

    • John Watts says:


      I’ve never had a problem with the electronic signature or notification of delivery from the Post Office. If the other side argues about it then you may need to go through the steps of having someone from Post Office testify.

      But frankly, that can happen with even a regular signature.

      Usually, the other side backs down with they realize you have the proof of delivery. Be the same with a Fed Ex or UPS delivery — pretty unlikely the wrong person got the package and signed someone else’s name.

      Hope that helps and thanks for your question/comment!

      John Watts

  28. bradley says:


    We received a Summons via a debt Collector (a card we did not sign up for?), through the USPS with the Green Return Receipt card still attached in our Mailbox.

    A) It was send via USPS Forwarding Address service, out of state, but still own orignating address home.

    B) It was unsigned, still attached and left in our mailbox in the lobby of our loft building.

    I looked up the tracking number on the green slip, but USPS had no record of it, as of date of delivery?

    Prior to contacting the Summoner or Plaintiff, to dispute the legitimacy of the debt, I wanted to see if DELIVERY was compliant. Can the carrier scan it and just leave it fully intact without any signatures? Allowing the scan be the notice of delivery?

    Thank you!!

    • bradley says:

      We went ahead and contacted them to contest/resolve…best option with us being out of state until 7/18. Thanx!

    • John Watts says:


      This can be frustrating but you did the right thing contacting them. Best to deal with this head on — I don’t believe the mail certified mail should have been left there but that’s really a battle that often is not worth fighting. So if you can deal with it now (sounds like you have from your follow up comment) that’s the best.

      Thanks for commenting!

      John Watts

  29. Ron says:

    I recently mailed my mortgage company a certified mail debt validation and the CEO refused to accept certified mail. People can refuse to accept cert mail. At this point how do you handle the refusal? because of this they can move forward with any foreclosure proceedings and easily say that they never received my debt validation and proof of claim which I’m pretty sure that they would have defaulted on had I been able to prove received.

    • John Watts says:


      If the mortgage company is a debt collector then I have never seen refusing to accept a properly sent certified mail working for them.

      When a debt collector, in my experience, refuses to accept certified mail, the courts have said it is as if they did receive and read the letter. Otherwise, they could frustrate the whole point of the validation under FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      When I’ve run into this, we have sent it other ways.

      Send it to the correspondence address (the best place to send it anyway rather than to the CEO). Fax it to them. Send it regular mail also. Is there an email address you can send letters to?

      FedEx it to them or send by UPS.

      Point out that it is refusing to accept this letter.

      Send a similar letter directly to the foreclosure lawyers.

      My point is to keep pushing — try every way you can think of (and get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to get advice from) so if they ignore it and you sue, the judge will have no sympathy for them.

      I’ve not run into a judge that would say, “Oh yes a company can ignore and avoid all consumer protection by having a policy of not accepting mail or phone calls from consumers.”

      That would be too clever by far.

      I’ll give you one example.

      We had a consumer reporting agency who refused to investigate our client’s dispute under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). They said you must enclose your driver’s license and another identifying piece of information (bank statement, etc).

      We did include that in the first dispute.

      So we did another dispute and pointed this out.

      Guess what?

      They again said we had not included it. So they refused to investigate.

      We sued and said their investigation (which was none) was negligent and intentionally wrong. They argued, “Well actually we did no investigation so you can’t sue us.”

      That argument was pathetic.

      It ended very badly for that company.

      I would file those cases every day of the week — great cases when companies do stupid things like this in my opinion.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

      PS — remember to get with a great consumer protection lawyer in your state so he or she can give you advice and you can make sure and not let this mortgage company get away with cheating you.

  30. missy says:

    How does this work with credit bureaus as they only provide a P.O. Box for disputes? There is no one at the PO ox to sign for the letters.

    • John Watts says:


      I would still send it certified — they will sign for it. Basically, there is a note left in the box saying, “You have a certified mail waiting at the front desk” — then they go sign for it.

      Best wishes and let me know if you have trouble getting the signed cards back — our clients have not had any issues with this — been doing this for many years so hopefully, you will have no problems.

      John Watts

  31. John T says:

    I mailed a certified letter of 3-0-day notice to vacate an apartment for a friend who is the landlord, and put my PO box as return address. (She had an injury and was unable to go to the PO herself.) A couple of weeks later got the returned letter with notice that the tenant did not sign it.

    We need the information for court eviction proceedings. However the letter and receipts were subsequently lost. Is there a way to verify the letter without the physical receipt and unopened letter?

    • John Watts says:


      You’ll need to check in your particular state for how this works and especially in the context of evictions. I think (but don’t practice in this area so I don’t know) that in Alabama you may only need to put the notice on the door.

      You may can go to the USPS website to show the letter was not claimed.

      To prove the letter, you have to know if the judge will let you testify that the PDF you have on your computer is the exact copy of the letter. If you only have the “word” version it is less likely as that can be changed.

      Again this is very specific to your state and even which judge you get.

      My suggestion is to get with an experienced eviction lawyer (representing landlords) in your state and city to find out your options.

      Hope that helps

      John Watts

  32. Amanda Hass says:

    If I send my payment to a collection agency do they have to except it Certified? I just want to back my butt up that they got it, only because I’m planning on sending a money order.

    • John Watts says:


      If you send payment by certified mail, I don’t know of any collection agency that would reject the certified mail unless they are a scam place.

      Sending letters by certified mail is important and if you are paying them, then using a money order is wise also.

      If you are in Alabama give us a call (205-879-2447) and we can help you think through whether it is wise to send this particular agency money, etc.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

      PS — where-ever you live, keep in mind after you pay the collector, you need to make sure your credit reports are showing accurately what you now owe them. So if you owe $1000, and you do a settlement payment of $650, your credit report should show “zero” owed because you settled it. If it shows $350 (1000-650) then that is false credit reporting. We see this quite often and normally sue the debt collectors for doing this.

  33. Josephine Lawrence says:

    Certified mail is GREAT — if it works. I sent a certified letter requesting someone sign it and the post office send the card back to me. Guess what? It came back to me with NO SIGNATURE. How would one prove that in court? Perhaps UPS is better than USPS. I don’t know.

    • John Watts says:


      I rarely see this but do know what you are talking about. Not perfect without a signature but the main thing is you can prove it was received, especially if sending it to a company.

      I haven’t had a problem even when unsigned when the USPS shows it was delivered. But much more comforting to have a real signature on there…



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