How much do I really owe the Debt Collector?

Contact from a debt collector is always cause for concern, but not everything the debt collector tells you is fact. Debt collectors often use certain tactics to intimidate consumers, such as threatening IRS reporting or a lawsuit when none is intended. They may also tell you that you owe more than you actually do. If the amount of debt they claim owed sounds incorrect, take the following steps.

Review Correspondence

Within five days after the debt collector first contacts you by phone, they must send a letter that details the amount of the debt with the name of the original creditor. Review this letter and ensure that the amount owed and the name of the creditor are accurate.

Dispute Incorrect Information

After you receive this letter, you have 30 days to dispute any inaccuracies. Send a written letter via certified mail with a return receipt, along with any documentation that supports your claim. Request that the collector respond promptly to your dispute.

Request a Validation and Itemization of the Debt

You can also request that the collector provide a Validation and Itemization of the debt. This will require the collector to send proof of the debt, such as agreements or statements from the creditor, as well as confirmation that the collector is allowed to collect it.

The itemization will provide a detailed summary of how the claimed balance was calculated. It will include the principal amount plus interest and any additional late fees. The collector is prohibited from any further collection activity until he responds to your request with proper validation of the debt claimed to be due.

If the collector ignores your dispute or continues to try to collect based on inaccurate information, contact a debt collection lawyer to discuss your options.