Simple Dispute Letter To Send To Debt Collectors


Simple Dispute Letter To Send To Debt Collectors

debt collectorsWe have talked about what to say to debt collectors when on the phone, but what about a “simple” sample letter to debt collectors?

There are some very long, and I think very ineffective, letters that are floating around the internet.

But used properly, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) do give us some useful tools to help collectors understand that should not abuse you.

Purposes of the Letter

You want to dispute the debt.

Unless you know it is right and accurate.

You probably want the debt collector to not call your cell phone or your work phone.

You want to see what the collector will send you that shows you owe this debt.

Now, you may have other purposes but our clients want these three items above.  This letter accomplishes those goals.

Here’s the Simple Letter to Send to Debt Collectors

Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested

Address

Dear Sir or Madam,

I dispute owing any debt to your company.

If you think I owe any debt to your company, please send me whatever you can in writing showing me that I owe any debt to your company.

Do not call my cell phone number of xxx-xxx-xxxx.  If you think I gave permission for you to call my cell phone, I’m revoking it in writing.  And do not call my work number of xxx-xxx-xxxx or any other number for my work of [give name of your work].  I’m not allowed to receive these types of calls at my work.

Thank you.

Name

Address

DOB

Last 4 of Social Security

—————————————

Couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Fill out all blanks on the letter (phone numbers, name of employer, etc);
  • Make any changes you need to the letter;
  • Make sure you date the letter;
  • Send it certified mail so you get the green card back;
  • Keep a signed copy — a hard copy;
  • Scan the signed copy — use a scanner, a scanner app on your phone, or even just take a picture of the letter with your phone and email that to yourself or put it on Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, or some other cloud based storage;
  • When you get the green card back, scan it just like the letter and staple it to the signed copy you have kept; and
  • Carefully track any calls or letters you get from the collector to document any violations of the law

What This Letter Accomplishes

“I dispute owing any debt to your company.”

This makes it clear to the collector that you dispute the debt.

Collectors, particularly debt buyers, love to argue to judges, “Well, he never disputed it so he admits he owes it.”

Some judges fall for this but most don’t.

The law is absolutely clear that you do not concede you owe the debt because you do not dispute it — the dispute process is a right, not a responsibility.

But, you should use the dispute process to tell the collection agency you dispute the debt.

If the debt collector credit reports on you after receiving the letter, it must show the debt as being disputed or the collector will violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

“If you think I owe any debt to your company, please send me whatever you can in writing showing me that I owe any debt to your company.”

Here the collector can either refuse to send you proof, or it can send you proof. If it is a legitimate collector, it will send you some form of proof as it will want you to pay.

The collection agencies that can’t or won’t prove the debt, will refuse to send you anything or will send you a letter saying “You owe the debt — we checked — and you owe it and we aren’t sending you anything.”

That is a warning sign that you are dealing with a collection agency that is probably going to violate the law.

And, if you get sued, you can tell the judge you even asked for some proof but the agency refused to send it….

“Do not call my cell phone number of xxx-xxx-xxxx.  If you think I gave permission for you to call my cell phone, I’m revoking it in writing.”

This will revoke any right that the collector claims to be able to call your cell phone with auto dialers, pre-recorded messages, or other types of communications (text messages, etc) that may be covered by the TCPA.

If the collection agency continues to call you with these types of calls, the agency may owe you $500 or $1500 per call.  The honorable agencies will immediately take your cell phone out of their system that auto dials.

The dishonorable ones? Well, they don’t think you have the guts to sue them — I suggest you prove them wrong….

“And do not call my work number of xxx-xxx-xxxx or any other number for my work of [give name of your work].  I’m not allowed to receive these types of calls at my work.”  

Once you tell the collection agency to not call your work as you are not allowed to receive these types of calls, the debt collector cannot call you at work.

If it does, it has almost certainly violated the FDCPA which prohibits calls to your place of employment after you tell them not to call you.

Often the debt collectors think you can’t get damages for this but any normal reasonable person (this excludes by definition abusive debt collectors!) knows that getting these types of calls to your work is very upsetting.

Final Thoughts

Send the letter out if it makes sense to you.

Most folks we meet with will send this out to collectors who are writing, calling, and credit reporting.

See who you are dealing with and whether you owe the money and then take the appropriate action.

Give us a call at 1-205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form, and we will be glad to chat with you if you live in Alabama.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

John Watts

PS — Follow up

Here is a simple schedule to use to follow up on your dispute letter.

7 days — did the collector get your letter?  Check on USPS website to see if delivered.

30 days — any word from collector?  Any calls or letters?

60-90 days — check credit reports and see if collector is reporting.  If reporting, is the collection account shown as disputed?  When was it updated?


14 Comments

  1. Penny says:

    I sent a certified return receipt letter. The collector refuses to sign for it. USPS shows it out for delivery a month ago,it hasn’t been delivered. Stagnant status. What can I do since they wont sign for the letter?
    Tks.

    • John Watts says:

      Penny,

      I would send another one and also send it by regular mail. You can take your original letter and write across the top of it:

      “Second Notice — you refused to pick up the certified mail so I’m sending you this second notice — please respond.”

      You can certainly do it however you want but I think it is somewhat ironic to use the collection industry’s “Second notice” language against them. 🙂

      And it makes the point that you are giving them another chance to pick up the letter.

      As far as your credit report goes, if you sent the simple dispute letter we suggested in this article, I think the collector is likely on notice of your dispute. I doubt a judge would be impressed with the collector refusing to open the mail or pick up the mail to claim ignorance.

      Still, I would send the second notice by certified and regular mail and then check your credit reports in about 90 days.

      If you have questions and live anywhere in Alabama, feel free to give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Thanks for your excellent question — one I have never had before — and I wish you the best!

      John Watts

  2. Deseray says:

    What type of letter should you send if there to the debt collector that is reporting a judgement? One can be unsure of how to address a debt collector when a court judgement is involved.

    • John Watts says:

      There are normally two ways a collection account that results in a judgment is reported on your credit reports.

      First, there is the “tradeline” or account from the collector — say it is Midland Funding. That is actually the collector reporting it and there should always be an address of the collector that you can send a copy of a letter to — often you want to dispute it with the credit reporting agencies also.

      Second, if there is a judgment against you, then it will show up under the “Public Records” section of your credit report. That is NOT reported by the collector — instead the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, etc) report this by pulling the courthouse records.

      To dispute a judgment you normally need to show the judgment is vacated or settled.

      Hope this answers your question — if not let me know and I’ll do my best to help you any way I can.

      Thanks!

      John Watts

  3. Paul Nunn says:

    What do I do if I have a charge off and a collection for the same account? Do I send the dispute letter to the collection agency?

    • John Watts says:

      Paul,

      I think it is a good idea to consider a dispute letter to any debt collector. If you don’t, they will argue (not legitimately but they argue) that you must have agreed or you would have disputed.

      Our simple dispute letter is designed to get you information and to make sure the collector is not blowing up your cell phone or calling you at work.

      Certainly get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state as sometimes best not to send it but good starting point is this letter.

      If we can help you give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Thanks!

      John Watts

  4. Paul Nunn says:

    If I do owe a debt that’s in collection that’s pretty new like 3-4 months what’s the best way to handle it. Thanks

    • John Watts says:

      Paul,

      It depends on a lot of factors:

      1. Why type of debt?
      2. How much?
      3. Who is collecting?
      4. Do you owe the money?
      5. Does the collector have a right to collect?
      6. Do you have a defense to the claim you owe the money?
      7. Has the collector violated the FDCPA in its collections so far?
      8. What state are you in?
      9. Etc.

      So I can’t tell you the best way to handle it without knowing a lot of details.

      Here are some general thoughts:

      1. Using our simple form letter as a starting place can be a good idea. I tried to explain the reasoning behind it so you can make your own judgment about whether to send it or whether to modify it.

      2. Never hurts to talk to a collector but be aware that you don’t let them intimidate or lie to you. Document your calls.

      3. If you are dealing with a respectful legitimate debt collector, then it makes sense a lot of times to work it out. But if they are violating the law, often it is better to sue them.

      Ultimately if you are dealing with a collector, it is worth your time to chat with a lawyer that does this type of work. We normally can tell you who is legitimate, whether they have violated the law, etc.

      So get with a lawyer in your state to see what your options are.

      Congrats on taking action instead of ignoring this — that speaks very well of you.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts
      205-879-2447 if you live in Alabama give us a call…

  5. MARY says:

    Hello. How can I find out if Midland Funding LLC and Midland credit Management is bonded in Alabama?

    • John Watts says:

      Mary,

      I’m not sure. To my knowledge they are not bonded and don’t need to be.

      But feel free to give me some more detail about what you are looking for (i.e. what type of bonding) and I’ll help you any way I can.

      Thanks!

      John Watts

  6. Avi says:

    Hi, I’m slightly confused – in your other video you stated that you never talk to debt collectors, you start with filing a law-suit. If so, when would this letter be relevant?

    Thank you!!

    • John Watts says:

      Avi,

      Thanks for your comment/question.

      We as lawyers don’t call or write to debt collectors and ask them to settle a potential claim with us. We sue them and then talk to them.

      This letter on this page is something our clients would send to dispute a debt.

      The letter is a good starting point when you have any debt collector show up in your life — call, credit report, letter, etc.

      But when you find a collector has broken the law, then we sue first and negotiate second. The reason is there are some idiot collectors out there who will sue lawyers for trying to settle cases before suing the collector. Very weird and ironic.

      So we just sue them and then talk. 🙂

      Hope that makes sense!!

      John Watts

  7. Fany Madrid says:

    I have made payments to a collection agency already but I stopped after a few months. They sent me the letter and at the bottom says that I have 30 days to dispute. My question is: did I resett the debt’s statue of limitations by making payments?

    • John Watts says:

      Fany,

      Thanks for your question.

      You may have reset the statute of limitations. It depends on what state you are in and exactly what was said and done.

      I would get with a lawyer in your state to figure this out.

      Here’s one way this works — it can get a little confusing but I’m sure you’ll see what I’m trying to say.

      IF by paying money, you reset the statute of limitations, then the collector should have told you that fact. When the collector was collecting, this is a vital fact for you to know: paying can reset the statute of limitation.

      The law gets a bit complicated in this area but you may have some options.

      Get with a lawyer in your state and then the next step — depending on what the lawyer advises you — may be to call the collector and ask if they are taking this position that they can sue you.

      Best wishes and if you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Thanks!

      John Watts

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