- 5 min read
- Pull your credit report regularly to identify any errors.
- Dispute an inaccurate debt amount with a debt dispute letter.
- Stop collection calls with a cease and desist letter.
Tools & Knowledge to Get Debt-Free on Your Own
We created this Debt Portal to help you solve debt problems, from validation letters to credit repair forms. Bills.com’s “Debt Do It Yourself Center” will put you in the driver’s seat to solve your debt problems on your own for free.
Disputing a Debt with a Collector
Under Federal law, you have the right to request documentation proving that you actually owe the debt being claimed by a collector. If you have any doubts as to the validity of a debt being asked to pay, you can dispute the debt in writing (this process is also called “requesting validation”). Once you have notified the collection agency of your dispute, it is required to cease all collection activity until it has responded to your request by providing documentary evidence, such as a signed credit agreement, demonstrating that you are the person who is responsible for the debt. Below are three letters which you can use to help you in disputing your debt with a collection agency.
The following sample letters are PDF-formatted files. Your browser or mobile device will need a PDF reader to view the files.
Debt Dispute Letter
If you receive a call or letter from a collection agency for a debt that you don’t think you owe, you can send the agency this letter to put it on notice that you dispute the validity of the debt and that you are demanding that the agency provide proof that you are responsible for paying it.
Notice of Insufficient Validation
Frequently, collectors will respond to a request for validation with nothing more than a computer printout of the balance owed. Generally speaking, this is not sufficient proof of the debt. If you receive a response to the first letter which you think is insufficient, you can use this letter to put the creditor on notice that it has not satisfied its obligations to provide proof of the debt.
Failure to Validate Debt
If you do not receive a response to your debt dispute letter within a reasonable time (usually 30-60 days), or if the creditor continues its collection efforts without validating the debt, you can use this letter to notify the collector that it is legally required to stop its collection activity against you. Having sent the debt dispute, and following up with this letter, may put you in a better position if the creditor refuses to stop its collection efforts and you are forced to file a complaint with the FTC, your state Attorney General’s office, or even to file a lawsuit against the collector for violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).
Debt Settlement Offer Letter
If you work out a debt settlement on the telephone with an original creditor or collection agent, and want to reduce your agreement down to the written word, send the person you negotiated your agreement with the following letter. See the Bills.com article Settlement Letter to learn the eight terms and conditions that should appear in a debt settlement letter.
Cease Communication Notice
The Cease Communication Demand letter is a general letter designed to stop all collection calls.
Cease and Desist (C&D) Letters
Here are four letters you may use if you wish to stop a debt collector or other lender from contacting you, or from making ACH withdrawals from your accounts.
Federal law, the FDCPA specifically, requires debt collectors to stop calling you if you make such a request in writing. However, this rule applies to third-party debt collectors, and not necessarily to original creditors. Some states have their own version of the FDCPA, which extends this rule to original creditors. For example, if you owe money to CitiBank, and CitiBank calls you, a cease-and-desist letter may not stop these calls. Also, many creditors will abide by such requests, not because they are legally required to do so in all states, but because they do not want to violate the law in error and want to maintain a positive public image.
Work Harassment Letter
This letter is specifically targeted to collectors who call you at work, which are a particular problem, as some collectors will make multiple calls to a consumer’s workplace in an effort to shame or irritate the consumer into paying the debt. Use these letters sparingly and only when needed; there is no need to send a cease communication demand to every collector who calls, but you should know you have this option if a collector’s calls become harassing or abusive.
Expired Statute of Limitations
Download and adapt this letter if a collection agent contacts you in an attempt to collect a debt on an account that is time-barred by your state’s statute of limitations.
Revoke ACH Payments
Use this letter to revoke a lender or other business from using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system to make withdrawals from your checking or other financial account.
Credit Repair – Dispute Listing
We strongly encourage consumers to pull a copy of their credit reports from all three major U.S. credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — at least once each year. It is important that you review your credit reports on a regular basis, as credit reports can be inaccurate and contain derogatory information about accounts for which you have no responsibility. This erroneous information can cost you thousands of dollars in the form of higher interest rates and reduced access to lower-cost forms of credit. Reviewing your reports will also help you find if you are the victim of identity theft, as you will be able to see if any large credit transactions have taken place about which you were unaware. If you find any erroneous or surprising information on your credit reports, you have the right under federal law (the Fair Credit Reporting Act) to dispute the debt. You may order copies of your credit reports, free of charge, through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q3 2023 was $17.291 trillion. Housing debt totaled $12.489 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.802 trillion.
A significant percentage of people in the US are struggling with monthly payments and about 26% of households in the United States have debt in collections. According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, the median debt in collections is $1,739. Credit card debt is prevalent and 3% have delinquent or derogatory card debt. The median debt in collections is $422.
The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Rhode Island, 21% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1575. Medical debt is common and 5% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $526.
To maintain an excellent credit score it is vital to make timely payments. However, there are many circumstances that lead to late payments or debt in collections. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to deal with debt including debt consolidation and debt relief solutions.