The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB) has released self help letters. These DIY letters are intended for consumers who are looking to deal with a debt collector without hiring an attorney. There are five letters that consumers can send to debt collectors.
1. The need more information letter: You send this letter out to a debt collector when you do not have enough information to identify the debt or figure out what they are talking about. Be careful sending out this letter because you will still only have 30 days to dispute the debt.
2. The dispute letter: You send this letter within 30 days of receipt of a letter from a debt collector. This is the letter that allows you to properly request validation of the debt.
3. The restrict contact letter: You send this letter to a debt collector when you do not want them to contact you. This letter should usually go out with the dispute letter.
4. The representation letter: You send this letter to a debt collector when you have hired an attorney. This will tell them to stop contacting you and to contact your attorney.
5. The stop contact letter: This letter tells a debt collector not to contact you at all. You should not use this letter and the restrict contact letter, but you should use one or the other with your dispute letter.
Of course, then you need a logbook. After you send one or more of these letters, excluding letter 1, the debt collector cannot attempt to collect the debt without providing validation of the debt (if you use letter 2), or cannot contact you via certain means (if you use letter 3) or at all (if you use letters 4 or 5). At that point, it is in your best interest to keep track in a notebook or a spreadsheet of any contacts by the debt collector. Any contacts may be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Rosenthal Act.