Written by attorney Philip D Stern

Disputing a Debt in response to a Debt Collection Letter


Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the initial written communication from a debt collector (collection agencies, collection lawyers, and debt buyers) must notify the consumer of certain rights which can be exercised within 30 days after receipt.

A consumer has the right to dispute the debt, to request verification of the debt, and to request the name and

address of the original creditor. The verification requirement is rather low. We have seen letters which ask for all sorts of backup but the debt collector has no legal obligation to provide such details.


We generally recommend a simple letter which states:

I am in receipt of your letter addressed to me dated [insert date]. I dispute the debt. I request verification as well as the name and address of the original creditor.


[If the account appears to have been sold by the original creditor, include:]In addition, please provide me proof of each assignment of the account.

If there are particular times of the day when it is inconvenient to receive telephone calls, you can add:

It is inconvenient for me to receive telephone calls [state the times].

You should also let the debt collector know if your employer does not allow you to receive collection calls at work. So, you can also add:

You should never call me at work because my employer prohibits such calls.

If you don't want the debt collector to contact you anymore, you can include:

Other than sending me the information requested in this letter, please cease all communications with me.

III. Additional Information

Most lawyers who represent consumers with claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act do not charge to review a potential client's matter and will work on contingency. A violation of the Act entitles the consumer to recover all damages, a statutory award of up to $1,000 and have the consumer's lawyer paid by the debt collection. Congress wrote the law that way to encourage consumers to bring their cases to lawyers. We recommend that you find an experienced FDCPA attorney either through AVVO, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, or any other reputable directory of attorneys.

Additional resources provided by the author

The 30-day Notice requirements are in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at 15 U.S.C. § 1692g.

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