After you receive the first written communication (usually a letter) from a debt collector (a debt collector for these purposes is a debt collection firm; a law firm; or a lawyer trying to collect the debt), you should, within 30 days of receiving that communication, send a letter to the debt collector that includes the following:

  • Make sure your letter to the debt collector is mailed to the debt collectors proper address.
  • Make sure your letter to the debt collector includes the current date you mail it.
  • Make sure your letter to the debt collector includes copy of the initial communication (the letter from the debt collector to you).
  • Make sure your letter to the debt collector includes a letter, note, Post-it note, etc., stating the following: “This alleged debt, or at least some portion of it, is disputed.” and “Furthermore, I request the name and address of the original creditor.”

You do not need to include any other information, but you do need to keep a copy of everything that you send to the collector. If you send the letter requesting a return receipt or proof of delivery, which you should do unless you simply cannot afford that (it is not required by law, but it still helps), keep a copy of the return receipt.

Keep the original letter you received as well as the envelope it came in. And again, make a copy of everything you send to the debt collector.

Once you do this, if you hear from the debt collector again (in any manner – by telephone, letter, etc.) before the debt collector validates the debt, the debt collector has violated the law.

Also, remember that this only applies to the person sending you the letter. If the person who sends you the letter subsequently transfers the debt to someone else, and that someone else writes you a letter, you must do everything above for that new person as well.

If the letter comes back to you for any reason, do not open the letter. Keep the entire envelope for your file.

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