The first step before ever paying or disputing a debt is to VALIDATE it. Why? By Law, you have the right to seek the validity of the debt and the right to find out whether the Collection Agency has the legal right to collect by asking them for proof (original contract with original signature, payment history,etc.) Send the debt validation letter by certified mail. If you need templates of letters, visit www.creditwarriors.org. While you wait for a response, you should check to see if your state requires CAs to be licensed, and if so, whether the CA you are dealing with is licensed and bonded.  The states that do not require CA licensing are Georgia, California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina (may change- use Google)… Go to your Secretary of State website for your particular state (use google- this requires research on your part because the website varies).

If the CA violates Collection laws, file a complaint with your Attorney General and CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/).

If the CA doesn’t send you satisfactory proof, you have options. Under the FDCPA, if the collection agency doesn’t validate your debt, then they can no longer collect the payment and they are required to stop contacting you and remove the debt.  You can file a complaint with the attorney general and CFPB or You can also send a letter to the collection agency asking them to remove the collection listing. You should also inform them that if they don’t remove the collection listing, you might sue them for violation of the FDCPA. Wait 15-20 days for a reply from the collector. They’ll either remove the negative listing or they won’t respond at all. At this point, you can file a complaint and upload all proof to the CFPB website. Again, these are just options that you have. You can do more research on how to start the lawsuit process.

If the CA (collection agency) sends you a bill for proof of debt validation or anything other than real proof, this is NOT enough. You will then need to send a certified letter to the CA requesting METHOD OF VERIFICATION. Ask them what methods did the Credit Bureaus use to verify the account, especially a collection account. Ask the CA what did they send the credit bureaus to verify that the account was accurate and then ask them to validate the debt. You have to be persistent! This is a process and it is NOT QUICK! Sometimes multiple Letters will be needed along with Multiple Complaints!!!!! Send every letter handwritten in blue ink, certified and keep copies of everything you send along with receipts.