I have had a lot of people calling lately asking what to do when a debt collector sends the first letter. By law, you have 30 days to dispute the debt and ask for validation of the debt. You should put your request in writing to the debt collector, preferably by certified mail, return receipt requested. This way you have proof of receipt.
I am providing an updated validation letter to use when you are contacted by a debt collector.
12345 Difficult Street
Very Difficult, CA 90015
Re: Account Number
Dear Debt Collector:
I am in receipt of your letter of July 1, 2009. Please note that I dispute the above-referenced debt. Therefore, please verify this debt as required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Rosenthal Act.
While this debt is being disputed, you cannot report this debt to the credit reporting agencies. If you have already reported it the credit reporting agencies, please contact the credit reporting agencies, inform them that the debt is disputed, and ask them to delete it from my credit report.
As you know, reporting information that you know to be inaccurate, or failing to report information correctly, is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable laws.
Mr. (or Mrs.) Consumer
Upon receiving this, the debt collector must stop all collection activity until they can validate the debt. Once the debt is validated, they can continue with their collection efforts. But, many debt collectors cannot validate the debt.