If you have received a notice from a collection agency regarding a debt you believe is inaccurate, unverified, or resulting from identity theft, you have the right to dispute the debt under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It is important to understand your rights as a consumer before engaging with a collection agency.
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Under the FDCPA, a collection agency must provide you with certain information regarding the debt, including the name of the original creditor, the amount owed, and your right to dispute the debt. The agency must also cease collection activities until they have provided verification of the debt.
Under the FCRA, you have the right to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you have the right to dispute the information with the credit bureau and the collection agency reporting the debt.
Writing a Dispute Letter to the Collection Agency
To dispute a debt with a collection agency, you should start by writing a dispute letter to the agency. Your letter should include:
- Your name and address
- The date
- The name of the collection agency and their address
- A statement that you dispute the debt and request verification
- A request for the agency to cease all collection activities until they have provided verification
- Any supporting documentation, such as a copy of your credit report or identity theft report
- Your signature
Make sure to keep a copy of your letter for your records and send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested. This will provide proof that the agency received your letter.
Following Up on Your Dispute
After sending your dispute letter, the collection agency has 30 days to provide verification of the debt or cease collection activities. If the agency is unable to provide verification, they must cease all collection activities and remove any negative information they have reported to the credit bureaus.
If the agency provides verification but you still believe the debt is inaccurate or unverified, you may want to seek legal advice or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your state’s attorney general’s office.
In addition, you should check your credit report to ensure that the collection agency has removed any negative information related to the disputed debt. If the agency has not removed the information or continues to report inaccurate information, you can dispute the information with the credit bureaus.
Disputing a debt with a collection agency can be a daunting process, but understanding your rights as a consumer and following the proper procedures can help protect your finances and credit score. Remember to always keep copies of your letters and supporting documentation, and seek legal advice if necessary.