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How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt

If you have been contacted by a debt collector that is not the original creditor or representing the original creditor, I think it would be smart to ask the debt collector to validate the debt and prove you actually owe it if there is any doubt on your part you owe the debt.

Many debts were sold to debt buyers that wound up collecting or even suing consumers but never had sufficient information to prove the debt owed was accurate or valid. Asking for debt validation is a smart thing to do.

This process does not have to be complicated or difficult. You don’t need a form letter and in fact you can write the letter out by hand if you want. But I have provided somewhat of a sample letter below.

The hardest part of this process will be taking the letter at a Post Office so you can send it certified, return receipt requested. You must do that. You will need the proof when they received your letter.

When you get the green postcard back showing when they received your debt validation request, put that card in a safe place with all your other important papers. If you kept a copy of the letter you sent, staple the green card to it.

It is important to send this letter within 30 days of you being contacted by the debt collector. Do not delay.

Sample Debt Validation Letter

Debt Collector Name
City, State Zip

The Date Today

Your Name
City, State Zip

(Account: If the collection notice has an account number on it, put it here.)

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you today to dispute the debt you are trying to collect from me and to request you provide validation the debt is legitimate.

If you have notified the credit reporting agencies of this debt you must notify them promptly that I have disputed the validity of this debt.

I have notified you in writing within the 30-day period and request you cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until you can verify the debt and provide me, by first class mail, the following materials:

  • All documents, including electronic records or images, which bear my signature and which concern the debt being collected;
  • A ledger, account card, account statement copy, or similar record, whether paper or electronic, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances, and charges concerning the debt, including but not limited to interest, fees, charges or expenses incidental to the principal obligation which the creditor is expressly authorized to collect by the agreement creating the debt or permitted to collect by law;
  • The name and address of the original creditor, if different from the collecting creditor; and
  • A copy of any judgment against me.


      Your Name

Now, go to your local Post Office and send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.

You will need to complete a return receipt card, like the one below, and attach it to the back of your letter before mailing.

How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt

There is an additional charge to send a letter certified and request a return receipt.

And Now You Wait

After you send your letter, just wait for their response.

If they call before they get the letter, there is no reason to be nasty, just let them know you sent the letter and will await their investigation and response by mail.

Unless the collector can prove the debt is valid then there is no reason for you to deal with them anymore.

How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt
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    About Steve Rhode

    Steve Rhode
    Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
    • Chris M.

      Most of this sample letter is unnecessary and demands information that collection agencies don’t legally have to send you. Debt validation is a simple task: Verify you’re the person they are looking for and the amount owed per the original creditor. For example, if it’s a credit card debt then they need only to send you a copy of your most recent statement from the credit card company and the debt is validated. They don’t have to include a copy of your application with your signature or a list of every charge you’ve put on the card. The only thing they really can’t send as suitable validation is a print out of their screen. Whatever they send must be generated from the original creditor.

      That said, a validation request (aka dispute) is much simpler than what’s posted here. The following sample letter will invoke all of your rights under the FDCPA and prevent the agency from calling you, even if they validate the debt.

      Your Name
      Your Address
      City, State, Zip

      Collection Agency Name
      Their Address
      City, State, Zip

      Re: Account/Reference # or phone number they’ve been calling
      Certified Mail: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 (if you have the number beforehand)


      Dear [Collection Agency Name],
      In response to your [telephone call on | dunning notice dated] xx/xx/xx, I dispute this debt in it’s entirety. All telephone calls are inconvenient.

      Your Name


      Don’t sign the letter – you don’t need to and if they are a shady agency then you probably don’t want them having a copy of your signature anyway. As stated, this much simpler letter invokes all of your rights. The collection agency must stop contacting you until they send you validation and will stop all phone calls, even if they do validate.

      Send the letter as outlined by the author: certified mail with a return receipt. If possible, pick these labels up from the post office before you write your letter. This allows you to know the tracking number in advance and you can put it in your letter. This prevents them from trying the “we got a letter but it wasn’t a dispute, it was a promise to pay” approach (it’s happened before).

      The last point I’d like to bring up: if you’re dealing with a sleazy collection agency, don’t volunteer information or tell them how to do their job (like what to send you as validation or proof that they are licensed.) They should already know what they must do after receiving this letter. If they don’t take their next steps properly, then they are digging their own grave and you’ll end up with an FDCPA violation claim against them should you choose to pursue it.

    • Jose Perez

      Hi can a collection agency ask you for your financial status in order to make a payment arrangement. Like giving them information as far as how much does your wife make and list all your finances so they can make some type of arrangement. And how do they calculate the interest rate is it by day or by month?

    • Gene

      I had a problem with phony charges from a past landlord. When I asked for validation, they sent a list of charges, which were vague and nonsense. (Prorate paint, blinds, cleaning $100, empty trash $50, etc.) I asked for justification of these charges, and they ignored me. I asked for the identities of maintenance men and the cleaning person, and for copies of checks issued, and this was ignored.

      They ceased collection attempts, but put a critical note in my credit report. My lawyer was unwilling to pursue a defamation claim, and said that the most they had to do was add “disputed” to the report. I have been turned down for credit twice since, though I am completely out of debt and earn $60,000.

    • genedoug

      I am presently trying to pay a bill to Haband, a mail-order clothing store, for about $150. At first I thought I had paid with my MasterCard, but the record did not show that. Comenity bank is handling the Haband credit card. I received a letter saying I owed $150, and shortly afterward a phone call from Comenity saying the same.

      After checking, I tried to pay on the Haband website, and it said I owed only $19, and would not take more. Email did no more good. I just want to get them the money, and don’t want a delinquent record because I can’t get the money to them.

    • genedoug

      I had a problem with a former landlord over some phony charges. I asked them to say what the charges were for (just globally alluded to) and they sent me a list that was vague and false. (prorate paint, cleaning house for $100 for a 2 bedroom apartment, empty trash $50, about a hundred steps to the dumpster and bad for trash that could be carried in one hand, blinds, etc.) I wrote to them asking them to describe and justify those charges, and they ignored me.

      They ceased contacting me, but gave a negative report to the credit bureau. My attorney was unwilling to pursue a defamation claim. He actually proposed that I settle with them for 50%, even though I had already paid him more than 50% of that, and the claims were 100% fraudulent. (It’s the principle of the thing– I’m unwilling to cooperate with a mugging.) He said the most the bureau has to do is note that the charge is disputed.

      Since then, I have been turned down for credit twice. I would like to get the apartment management in court, but apparently they have to sue me, as I seem to be out of luck in attempting to sue them.

      • genedoug

        Correction: line five– to the dumpster and “back,” not “bad.”

    • kim

      What do you do when they are trying to collect a debt that is over 7 Yrs old.

      • Steve Rhode

        They can attempt to collect a valid debt till you die. The statute of limitations only controls how long they can sue you for.

    • A Jones

      I sent a letter of validation to a creditor and what I received back was NOT the information I requested. It was a very generic bill with a letter from the creditor saying due to HIPPA, they could not provide me with the documentation I asked for (it’s a hospital bill). What do I do now?

    • Paul

      I would just like to say thank you i was on line and saw your ad and read it about credit cards and third partys .I did what you said and i filed a responce to them .i never got to court !!! Because you were right they sent all there paper work thru the sheriff dept trying to intemdate you but the best part at the end was a letter OF A MOTION TO DISMISS the case. Thank you

      P.S to all out there do it just like Steve says

    • Jared Strauss

      Steve, I would like to add some insider perspective to your information. When debt buyers or collection agencies are assigned debt, it is generally done by way of an Excel spreadsheet. There is no contract. There are no statements.

      The information generally provided is as follows –

      Personal Information



      Home phone

      Work phone – sometimes

      Cell phone

      Social security number

      Date of birth

      Account Information



      Account number

      Date of last payment – sometimes with the amount

      Interest rate

      So it’s enough information to communicate and collect from consumers who don’t have a dispute. This system has been in place essentially forever.

      This is also mainly true for debts with large banks.

      Medical, apartment leases, commercial, credit union, and bad check debt often differ from this normal protocol on a fairly consistent basis. It is fairly common for the “Back-up” (industry term for contract, credit app, statements, or affidavit) to either be included or readily available for these classes of accounts.

      The common practice when an account is disputed is to order the Back-Up. When it’s ordered, there could be an 90/10, a 50/50, or a 20/80 chance that it will be obtained. The chance of acquisition is generally dependent on the creditor and the age of the debt.

      The time for acquisition generally varies as well. Its range can be from anywhere from a few days to possibly as long as 6 months, and sometimes longer.

      The reason why lawsuits are fairly uncommon when consumers go through the typical collection cycle, as opposed to hiring a long-term debt settlement company or requesting validation on valid debts, is because the validation isn’t readily available.

      It is a COMMON practice for an agency or debt buyer to become much more aggressive once they acquire the Back-up. That aggressiveness can lead to them being less negotiable in respect to settlements, or even monthly payment plans. And if resolution can’t be found, it is also COMMON practice for them to become aggressive with litigation.

      When consumers dispute a valid debt they are likely to arm their creditors with the information they need to get nasty. It’s no different than Israel handing over a nuke to Iran.

      Steve, you’ve never been on that side of the fence so you would have no way of knowing, but disputing valid debts is a very bad idea.

      The only time I would ever recommend it, is when the accounts have exceeded statute of limitations.

      • Steve Rhode

        I agree, I modified the first sentence to now read “If you have been contacted by a debt collector that is not the original creditor [or representing the original creditor]”

        These days the waters on secondary owners of debt has become so murky that if the consumer does not recognize the debt that they should ask for clarification.

        I would agree that disputing valid debt someone recognizes as a stall tactic is not a wise thing to do.

        But disputing a debt from foreign caller that is threatening you with jail time is.

        • Jared Strauss

          I agree on the murkiness. If consumers suspect that it COULD be a debt they owe, but don’t recognize the name, it is in their best interest to inquire on the chain of title.

          This can be done verbally by asking the debt collector who their client is and for their contact information. Then consumers should call the agencies’ client and inquire on who the original creditor was. Then, once they are provided that information, they should call the original creditor to confirm who they sold or placed the account with.

          And in respect to threatening jail time, no doubt. I’d also recommend they tape record those conversations, providing that they’re able to per their state law, and call an attorney along with filing AG (both in their state and the state the agency is located in), FTC and BBB complaints.

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