Although there are strict rules when it comes to collecting a debt, you can’t always rely on debt collectors to follow them. Unfortunately, there are debt collectors out there who will take advantage of your confusion and anxiety about dealing with them and are more than happy to accept your payment for a debt that doesn’t belong to you.
If you get a call or a letter in the mail about a debt you don’t recognize, here are some things you can do to verify whether or not the debt is yours:
- Find out who you’re dealing with. Ask for the caller’s name and the company he works for. Get their address and phone number. A legitimate debt collector won’t have a problem giving you this information.
- Don’t give them any personal information. Don’t confirm whether or not the collector has your correct information, and don’t correct them if they have wrong information. If the debt is not yours, giving them correct information could make it harder to dispute the debt later. Don’t give them any information about your employment either.
- Ask for a debt validation notice. Collectors are required to provide, in writing, information about how much money you owe, who the original debt was with, and what to do if you dispute the debt. This information may help you in finding out if the debt is yours or not.
- Be your own detective. If you find out who the original creditor is, call them directly to find out more about the debt. You should also check your credit report to see if the debt appears on it.
- Dispute the debt in writing. Be as specific as possible as to why you don’t owe the debt, but remember not to give any current information about where you live or work or even your birth date or social security number. If you want them to stop contacting you, you must ask them to stop in writing. Keep in mind, however, that asking them not to contact you won’t keep them from filing a lawsuit if they believe you owe the debt.