While you are checking your credit score, you may notice that there is a debt on your score that is delinquent and that you do not recognize. You should not assume that the debt is valid; instead, you should instead investigate it. The debt may be a mistake that you will need to have corrected. Fortunately, there is a procedure you can follow to have your debt validated.
Request Evidence That Your Debt Is Valid
You can legally request that the debt collector provide evidence to validate the debt. Then, the debt collector has five days to send evidence. Illegitimate debt collectors will usually not respond, which helps you avoid losing money to a scam. Also, in the letter, you can set rules for how the debt collector can communicate with you in the future. For example, you can request that the debt collector only communicate with you through letter.
Before sending your letter, make a copy of it. Then, send the original. Keeping a copy for yourself can help remind you of what you asked the debt collector.
Dispute the Debt
Debt that you do not recognize may turn out to be legitimate, especially when one of the stores you have credit with receives the credit from a separate company. The creditor or debt collector is required to provide you with the name of the creditor, how much you owe and the process for disputing a debt. If you try to dispute the debt, the debt collector will be no longer able to make collection calls until they have investigated the matter for 30 days.
Verify How Much You Owe
Even if you know that you do owe a debt, you must investigate the original creditor to verify that the amount of money sought by the debt collector is correct. Debt is often sold to collection agencies, and sometimes mistakes are made regarding the actual amount of the debt. Also, you will want to investigate whether the collector owns the debt yet. It is not unheard of for debt collectors to try to collect on debt they do not own yet. Ask for proof that the debt has been assigned to the collector's company.
Speak With a Debt Defense Attorney
Depending on how complex your debt is, you may want to consult with a debt defense attorney like Brackett & Strunk LLC who will evaluate the debt you owe and will advocate for you. There may be other protections available to you that you are not aware of.