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FDCPA Dispute Letter

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2012 | Consumer Protection

You just found out for the first time that a debt collection
agency is trying to collect a debt from you.  Perhaps you
found out by phone, or perhaps you found out by letter.  You
want to dispute this debt for whatever reason you have (not your
debt, incorrect amount, etc).  What should go in the dispute

When you write a dispute letter and what you put in that letter
have implications under the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(FDCPA).  Sometimes, it
depends on whether you are responding to a collection letter, and
sometimes it depends on what you want to accomplish.  There
are some different scenarios:

I just found out about the collection from a letter sent
to me…
The FDCPA requires that the first communication from a collector
contain certain important disclosures.  For one, it must
identify that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt,
and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
Also, the letter must advise you that you have the right to
dispute the debt
and seek validation within 30 days of the
receipt of that letter.   In this instance, timing is
key.  If you do want to dispute the debt, you can do that by
calling or writing. – and simply explain why you dispute it.
That could be valuable if the debt collector decides to report this
debt to the credit bureaus.  If the collector fails to note at
that time that you did, in fact, dispute the debt, then they are
violating the

If you are seeking validation of the debt, that request
must be in writing, and must be sent within 30 days of receiving
that letter.  If you do not send a demand for validation of
the debt in writing or within the 30 day period, then the collector
has no responsibility to respond to you.  However, the issue
now is what would you be requesting in your letter.  The case
law on the issue of what is proper validation is not completely
decided.  It has been held to be a question of fact that
depends on the circumstances in each case.  Thus, if you seek
to dispute and validate that the debt even belongs to you, then the
validation demand should be clear that you do not believe you own
the account and that proof should be given to show it is
yours.  However, if you dispute the amount of the debt, then
your demand should be for information tending to show how they got
to the balance they were demanding.

Simplicity is key.  Just because you found a long, fancy
letter on-line that cites all kinds of laws, that does not mean
that you are sending an effective letter.  Rather, your letter
should be clear and concise, getting right to the point, so that
there can be no mistake about what you were looking for.  Our
website provides a great example of a proper and concise
validation demand.

I just found out about the collection from a phone
Again, the FDCPA requires that the  first communication from a
collector contain those important disclosures mentioned
above.   If the collector gives you those warnings over
the phone, then as stated above, you need to send your demand for
validation in writing within 30 days of that call.  However,
if they do not give you that information over the phone, then the
FDCPA requires that they send it to you in writing within the next
five (5) days after that call.  If you do not get that letter,
perhaps the collection has violated the FDCPA for not sending it,
but this does not give you the right to seek validation.

Many people believe that simply writing the collector a letter
seeking validation at any time requires a response.  This is
untrue.  Unless you have a writing from the collector offering
to provide validation, a debt collector can ignore your
request.  However, just because they can ignore some requests
for validation, there are still other dispute letters they cannot

Any letter advising a collector that you dispute the debt must
be given some credence.  A debt collector receiving notice
that the debtor disputes the debt must be mindful of that dispute
when communicating about that debt to the credit bureaus or when
they pass off the debt to other collectors.  Also, a letter
that advises the collector to either cease and desist all
communication or that you refuse to pay the debt must be heeded and
all communications must cease.  The collector can only contact
you one time after that for the purpose of advising you either that
they are no longer collecting, or that there is a specific remedy
they plan on invoking.

When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have
rights,  and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C., has
over 30 years of combined experience practicing law protecting the
rights of consumers around the country. If you feel that you’re
rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.