Disputing a Collection Letter in Greenwood
If you receive a collection letter, you may believe your only option is to do everything you can to provide the money the collector has requested. But the most important thing to know in this situation is that collection letters often have mistakes.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) grants you the right to dispute collection letters. By doing so, you can temporarily halt the collection process and get the information you need to make an informed decision. You’re also sending a clear message to the debt collector that you’re not going to be pushed around.
The Collection Letter Dispute Process
The FDCPA grants consumers the right to dispute letters and obtain validation of debt information. This process ensures the debt collector’s information is accurate.
Under the FDCPA, “validate” or “verification” means the debt collector must provide:
- The amount of the debt;
- The name of the original creditor;
- The name of the current creditor; and
- A copy of the judgment, if applicable.
Debt collectors are required to inform consumers of their right to dispute the debt within five days of their initial communication. Be sure to check the collection letter for this notice. A debt collector’s failure to inform you of this right can result in stiff penalties.
To exercise this right, you can mail a validation notice to the debt collector within 30 days of receiving the collection letter. A sample validation notice can be downloaded here.
What Should Be Included in the Validation Notice?
The notice should dispute the amount and/or validity of the debt, request the name of the original creditor, and ask the debt collector to “validate” the debt.
You can also request a payment history and any agreements supporting the debt. Debt collectors are not required to provide this information, but it never hurts to ask. You may be surprised to find that many debt collectors can’t—or won’t—provide this information. This can be particularly telling when deciding whether to challenge or settle the debt.
Keeping Careful Documentation
When dealing with debt collectors, all communications should be sent via Certified Mail, return receipt requested, so there is evidence of the mailing and receipt. Always keep a copy of the signed validation notice and tracking number.
We also recommend keeping copies of all letters and a log of phone calls, including the date of the call, the people who spoke with you, and the details of the conversation. This information can be crucial when it comes to establishing a violation.
Pausing All Collection Efforts
As an added bonus, the FDCPA requires debt collectors to cease all collection efforts until they validate the debt. This includes both phone calls and additional collection letters.
Failing to stop collection attempts is a violation of federal law. In many cases, consumers who file a claim in response to this violation can recover statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus their actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Violates Your Rights
All debt collectors must “prove up” the debt—specifically, proving the amount owed, who owns the debt, and who owes the debt. By exercising your federal rights, you’re reminding the debt collector of its burden and sending a clear message that you’re not going to be intimidated into paying what isn’t rightfully theirs.
If a debt collector fails to provide you with notice of your right to dispute the debt, continues to contact you without validating the debt, or engages in behavior that is deceptive or hostile, we urge you to get in touch with us here at the Law Office of Matthew M. Cree, LLC. Because the FDCPA requires the debt collector to pay your attorneys’ fees and costs if your case is successful, it may cost you little to nothing to fight back.
I had a great experience with Matthew! He made the whole process simple.- Justin M.
Matt was professional, he handled everything.- Deanna B.
Attorney Cree made sure he explained everything making sure I understood.- Lisa L.
Mr. Matthew Cree is an AMAZING Attorney! He always answers your questions very promptly.- Kellie C.
Every time we had a question or concern he would get back to us that day.- Tyler H.