Remember that you have rights. For instance, by law, debt collectors can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They can't threaten you with arrest or suspension of your driver's license.
If a debt collector calls, the first move is to get out a paper and pencil and take down the name of the collector, the collection company, along with its name and phone number.
If a debt collector won't give you this information, it's a potential red flag of a scam.
Next, within five days of the call, debt collectors are required to send you a "validation letter" telling you the amount of the debt, the current creditor, with directions to get the name of the original creditor.
After you get a letter from a debt collector, you have just 30 days to dispute it by mail. Either ask for verification of the debt or if you already paid it, send proof of payment. Make sure you send it out certified with a return receipt requested so you have proof it was received.
The big takeaway is to keep good documentation. Make a note of every call, what was discussed, and save copies of all letters sent and received.
Watch out for high-pressure scammers who use threats to get you to wire or use a cash app to send out money immediately. Remember you the right to dispute.
7 On Your Side has sample dispute letters.
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