Responding to Initial Debt Collection Letters

If you have unpaid debt or have defaulted on loans, you can expect to receive a debt collection letter from a debt collection agency, if you haven’t already received one.

Debt collection companies buyout credit card debt and unpaid loans from banks and other lenders, and then try to collect the debt from you in order to turn a profit.

Due to various technicalities, they may not legally have a right to collect the debt, but that won’t stop them from trying.

In some cases, you may indeed owe the debt that they are collecting, but additional fees and high interest charges may have been added to your debt since you defaulted on your loan.

Of course, you always have the option of paying off your debt, but if you feel that the loan is invalid and the collector is mistaken, or that the additional fees and interest charges are excessive and possibly illegal, or if you just want the collector to verify that they are the legal owner of your debt and that they have the right to collect your debt, it is a good idea to write a first response debt dispute letter to make the debt collector verify your debt.

It’s your right to dispute your debt, so you should take advantage of this option, and at least make the debt collection companies work a little harder. It may save you a lot of money and possibly allow you to forgoe paying off your entire debt or a portion of your debt.

As a case study, we are following the actions of one consumer, who is an associate of ours:

On July 25, 2007, the said consumer received a debt collection notification from a debt collection company on a debt of around $2,500.

This consumer concedes that they stopped payment on roughly $900 in credit card bills over 4-5 years ago, and they have never paid off their debt.

The original credit card company sent them regular notifications for several months, which became less frequent over time and eventually stopped.

They hadn’t received any communications regarding the debt for well over a year or two, until this recent debt notification from the collection agency.

However, the current debt collection company is not related to the original credit card issuer and the additional fees and charges are quite high.

The debt collection agency is demanding the complete payment of the debt, but is offering them the option of disputing the debt in a letter (which the consumer has a legal right to do).

In this case, the consumer chose to write a debt dispute letter to the collection agency.

The initial debt dispute letter must be sent within 30 days of of receiving the notification from the collection agency, and the consumer will need to get a return receipt notification from the post office to track the letter.

On August 6, 2007, they sent the following Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter, which they obtained for free from Debt-n-Credit-Letters.com, which offers this and many other consumer rights letters for use in financial communications.

Example of Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter

Today’s Date

Your Name
Your Address

Collector’s Name
Collector’s Address

Dear {insert name of collector or company},

I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated {insert date}, (copy enclosed) because I do not believe I owe what you say I owe.

This is the first I’ve heard from you, or any other company on this matter therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:

(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information:
(1) the amount of the debt;
(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
(3) Provide a verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
(4) Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert name of your state)

Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For instance, I know that:
(a) because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against me and mail these items to me at your expense;
(b) you cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
(c) you do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA;

Also be advised that I am keeping very accurate records of all correspondence from you and your company including recording all phone calls and I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have already reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB) then, you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt. Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act § 1681s-2. Should you pursue a judgment without validating this debt, I will inform the judge and request the case be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA.

Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are also aware of my dispute with this debt.

Signature here
Your Printed Name

They included a copy of the original letter from the collection agency and made copies of all of the documents for themselves, as it is important to keep a paper trail.

This will at least stop the collection agency from writing or calling you, and it will take some time for them to verify your debt.

In many cases, upon receiving a debt dispute letter from a consumer, the collection agency will be forced to stop collections for one reason or another.

In other cases, they may be forced to drop some of the fees and charges your account has accumulated.

Either way, this consumer has now made it the collector’s responsibility to prove their debt.

This is just one example of a consumer and their reaction, and we will follow up with this case study on a step by step basis to document the process of disputing debt and resolving bad credit issues.

A debt dispute letter is the first reponse to collection agencies that send you an initial debt collection letter.

Comments

  1. admin says

    Our consumer in this case study, who has already responded to the initial debt collection letter, has chosen to order their free credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus in order to get an overview of their credit files and begin the process of repairing and rebuilding their credit history.

    To find out how they did it, read this article on Ordering Free Credit Reports to Monitor Your Credit Files.

  2. admin says

    Our consumer in this case study on fighting debt collectors has received a standard reply to their initial debt collection letter response.

    It reads:

    Dear consumer:

    Capital Management Services, LP. is in receipt of your recent correspondence requesting verification of your account being handled by our office. Our office has requested this information from our client, Resurgent Capital Services LP. Once we have received the information from Resurgent Capital Services LP, it will be forwarded to you.

    This is from a debt collector.

    (end letter example)

    The letter also includes contact information, “Should you wish to discuss the manner,” as well as various legal information that they are required by state laws to provide, including an incomplete list of states in which they are licensed to collect debt (not including our consumer’s state of residence, which is Florida), as well as additional consumer rights information in other select states.

    Until now, we have not revealed the name of the debt collection agency, but at this time, we thought it appropriate to provide this information in the hopes that others who have dealt with these companies will post their experiences.

    Capital Managemnt Services, LP. is the debt collection agency, and they are in a partnership with Resurgent Capital Services, LP., which collects debt for creditors or debt owners through their network of collection agencies.

    This letter is a standard reply to a consumer’s intitial debt collection letter response, which can be expected as the debt collection agency begins the process of verifying the debt and their right to collect on it.

    • Kate says

      So, was this the end? The consumer just didn’t hear back? And, if so, was the information removed from your consumers credit report?

  3. Robert Emery says

    I am writing in response to your “demand letter” for $10,324.63 dated January 15, 2009 and offer the following advice.

    Unjust enrichment is a legal doctrine applied in the absence of a contract to prevent one person from being unjustly enriched at another’s expense. Aside from the fact the vehicle was Illegally repossessed, Well Fargo Bank has received full compensation for the vehicle under the United States government Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

    Since you do not represent the United States government, your agency lacks standing and legal authority in this matter.

  4. RJ says

    After receiving the standard response from the debt collector what happens next? I’m currenly in this situation and I’m not sure what to do. Should I send another letter, if so what kind? How would I reply?

  5. Loran A. says

    June 18, 2009

    MY NAME
    MY ADDRESS
    MY CITY, STATE & ZIP

    Capital Management Services, LP
    726 Exchange St – Suite 700
    Buffalo, NY 14210

    June 18, 2009

    Re: Acct # 00000000
    To Whom It May Concern:

    This letter is being sent to you in response to a notice sent to me on June 11th, 2009. Be advised that this is not a refusal to pay, but a notice sent pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b) that your claim is disputed and validation is requested.

    This is NOT a request for “verification” or proof of my mailing address, but a request for VALIDATION made pursuant to the above named Title and Section. I respectfully request that your offices provide me with competent evidence that I have any legal obligation to pay you.

    Please provide me with the following:

    What the money you say I owe is for;
    Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;
    Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;
    Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable;
    Identify the original creditor;
    Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account
    Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state
    Provide me with your license numbers and Registered Agent

    At this time I will also inform you that if your offices have reported invalidated information to any of the 3 major Credit Bureau’s (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) this action might constitute fraud under both Federal and State Laws. Due to this fact, if any negative mark is found on any of my credit reports by your company or the company that you represent I will not hesitate in bringing legal action against you for the following:

    Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
    Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
    Defamation of Character
    If your offices are able to provide the proper documentation as requested in the following Declaration, I will require at least 30 days to investigate this information and during such time all collection activity must cease and desist.

    Also during this validation period, if any action is taken which could be considered detrimental to any of my credit reports, I will consult with my legal counsel for suit. This includes any listing any information to a credit reporting repository that could be inaccurate or invalidated or verifying an account as accurate when in fact there is no provided proof that it is.

    If your offices fail to respond to this validation request within 30 days from the date of your receipt, all references to this account must be deleted and completely removed from my credit file and a copy of such deletion request shall be sent to me immediately.

    I would also like to request, in writing, that no telephone contact be made by your offices to my home or to my place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer generated calls and calls or correspondence sent to or with any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications with me MUST be done in writing and sent to the address noted in this letter by USPS.

    It would be advisable that you assure that your records are in order before I am forced to take legal action. This is an attempt to correct your records, any information obtained shall be used for that purpose.

    Best Regards,

    Your Signature
    MY NAME HERE
    *****************************************************

    After sending the above letter I have never heard nor recieved another thing from this company. I’m just now, after giving them 90 days, getting ready to send them a demand letter advising to remove any and all negative reports to CRAs as a result of their failure to provide proper verification of debt. Will be giving warning that if they do not comply I will file complaint with FTA, local AG and file suit in a court of law.

    L.

  6. CreditConfusion says

    hello, im SO lost with this credit crap and am happy to have stumbled upon this useful site! i, too, received a collections letter for a pretty minor (less than $1000) debt. i could pay it but i do not want that to show up on my credit as “charged off” or whatever the adverse remark is. this debt is mine and its like 5 yrs old, if not older. should i dispute it, even though its legitimately mine? i live in CA btw. any help would be most appreciated! :)

  7. Needingassistance says

    I just recieved the creditors so-called validation. There validation consisted of an application to lease an apartment and some ridiculous reciept looking thing showing dates and what I owe on those dates, however I moved 7 months prior to those charges. Is there a simple letter that I can write stating that they did not show the proper validation of the debt?

  8. cb says

    how do you calculate 30 days? If the initial demand letter was dated October 8, do you have until November 8 to respond?

  9. Gene from Harrison says

    Hi, I’m presently dealing with a lawyer that is representing a credit card bank.( It’s a big law firm)I’m 65 years old, retired with S.S. and state pension,that is direct deposit. It is my understanding that they can not garnish this money ,nor place a stop at my bank ? My home is old and lost value of 25% no assists, (two banks with under $100.00 to pay bills.) so they would br thrid in line? Old cars with over 100,000miles one the bank still ownes,and misclaeous items of little value. I ran a side job,used credit cardes to help stay in business and since my busines went totaly gone, due to our economy, I cant pay many of my bills.I believe its best to fight then allow the to get a judment?What happens when I have to show up and give a sworen assists acount ?or can I refuse due to Religion beliefs ? Thanks Gene

  10. Manoj says

    In september 2008 during my shopping on an OldNavy store they asked me to apply for a credit card in the store, they didn’t gave me much details and only told me that its a store card and I can open an account with them and I applied for account with them in the store. However, my credit card application was declined at the store itself and I paid full amount for the purchases I made right there. I did not make any purchases after that.
    Now I received a notice from them saying I owe them 214.36 dollars as part of credit card debt.
    Couple of things I want to mention here:
    1. I have never received or seen a credit card or any statements from Old Navy.
    2. Due to job loss I had to leave my rented house in 2008 and I never received any communication from the credit card company regarding this transaction.
    3. March 10th 2011 I received a collection notice from an agency which is asking me for the total amount of $214.36.

    Now I am really depressed because I never saw or used this credit card in my life and I am not even aware of this transaction.
    Please advide how to overcome from this debit charge as they have also reported this to credit rating agencies and it has already started effecting my credit history.

  11. PassingThru says

    @Manoj: sounds liek you are a victim of identify theft. You need to research how to defend yourself from this after it has happened. First thing would be to call teh credit card service line and explain you never got the card (but you shoudl have done this within the first month of applying). Meanwhile, you need to research how to use the credit reporting agencies to work on your side. Once you have prove the debt was based on stolen identity (sounds like someone stole the app and change your address – never apply for a credit card in a store as this is the easiest way to become a victim) Then you’ll need to clean up your credit.

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