If you owe a debt that has been sent to collections, you may receive a notice from a debt collector demanding payment, however, you have the right to dispute the debt if you believe it is not valid or accurate. For example, you may dispute the debt if:
- You already paid it or settled it with the original creditor.
- You are not the person who owes the debt or the debt collector has the wrong information about you.
- The debt is past the statute of limitations and cannot be legally enforced.
- The debt collector is charging you fees or interest that are not allowed by law or by your original agreement with the creditor.
- The debt collector is trying to collect more than you owe or has added unauthorized charges to the debt.
Please continue reading and reach out to a New York City debt collector harassment lawyer from Rahman Legal to learn more about how to dispute a debt with a debt collector and how our firm can guide you through the process.
How to Dispute a Debt With a Debt Collector
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that protects consumers from abusive and deceptive debt collection practices, you have the right to request validation of the debt from the debt collector within 30 days of receiving their initial notice. To do this, you should send a written letter to the debt collector stating that you dispute the debt and asking them to provide proof that you owe it and that they have the legal authority to collect it. You should also keep a copy of your letter and send it by certified mail with return receipt requested, so you have proof that you sent it and that they received it.
Once you send your dispute letter, the debt collector must stop all collection activity on the debt until they send you verification of the debt. The verification should include:
- The name and address of the original creditor.
- The amount of the debt and how it was calculated.
- A copy of any contract or agreement that shows you agreed to pay the debt.
- A statement that the debt is within the statute of limitations and can be legally enforced.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Ignores Your Dispute
If a debt collector does not respond to your dispute letter within five days of their initial communication with you, or if they continue to contact you or try to collect the debt without sending you verification, they are violating the FDCPA and you have several options to protect yourself and your rights.
- You can report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which enforces the FDCPA and can take action against debt collectors who break the law. You can also report them to your state attorney general’s office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which also have authority over debt collection issues.
- You can sue them in court for damages and attorney’s fees. The FDCPA allows consumers to sue debt collectors who violate their rights and recover up to $1,000 in statutory damages, plus any actual damages (such as lost wages or emotional distress) and reasonable attorney’s fees. You have one year from the date of the violation to file a lawsuit.
- You can contact an attorney who specializes in consumer law and debt collection defense. An attorney can help you evaluate your situation, advise you on your legal options, negotiate with the debt collector on your behalf, or represent you in court if necessary.
Ignoring or avoiding a debt collector may cause them to use other methods to try to collect the debt, such as filing a lawsuit against you. If this happens, you should not ignore the lawsuit notice and respond within the deadline given. Otherwise, you may lose by default and face a judgment that could lead to wage garnishment, bank account seizure, or property liens. If you are sued by a debt collector, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
If you receive a notice from a debt collector, do not panic or pay without verifying. You have rights under the FDCPA and you can dispute any debt that you believe is not valid or accurate. If a debt collector ignores your dispute or violates your rights in any way, you can take action against them. Remember, you are not alone. Rahman Legal is here to fight for you.