What to Do When You’re Contacted About a Paid Debt

Sometimes collectors contact consumers and ask for payment on a debt that was already satisfied. Whether the collector made calls or sent letters, the consumer may be left confused and uncertain about whether there was a clerical error or if the collection effort is a scam.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines actions that debt collectors can and cannot take. If collectors contact you about a debt that was already paid, you have the right to request proof of the debt and how it was calculated. You can also request confirmation that the collector is permitted to collect the debt.

When Collection Contact Continues

Check Your Records

Once a debt has been assigned or sold to a collector, the consumer may request information about the debt from the collector, not from the creditor. If you are not sure whether a claimed debt is owed, gather your account statements, bank records, and payment history. It may also be helpful to obtain current credit reports. These documents will assist in determining whether money is still owed. Once you’ve reviewed your papers, write the collector to dispute the debt.  Be sure to enclose documentation with your letter that proves the debt was satisfied.

Request Proof from the Collector

If you do not have proof showing payment of the debt, obtain payment information from the debt collector. You may request that the collector provides account statements from the creditor, which show the period when your last payment was made. Send a Validation and Itemization letter to the collector asking for verification of the debt and how the claimed balance was calculated.

Document Your Contact

Maintain documentation of all correspondence with the collector, including letters sent and received, and proof of payments. Good record-keeping, the ability to show account history, and proof of collection disputes and responses become helpful in evaluating whether there is a claim against the collector for violating your consumer rights.

If collectors contact you by phone, keep a call log. Note the date, time of day, caller ID, name of collection agent and agency, phone number where the call was received, and details of any phone conversations, messages, or texts. This information may be useful in determining whether the collector failed to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Seek Legal Help

A qualified consumer protection attorney can help evaluate whether the debt collector has violated your consumer rights. Once you’ve hired an attorney, you may inform the collector with your attorney’s name and contact information. If the collector continues to contact you after you obtain legal representation, your consumer rights may have been violated under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.