When you’re dealing with creditors and debt collectors, it’s often better to make your requests and statements in writing. Many laws that protect consumer rights require you to send written communication. Sending letters, especially via certified mail with return receipt requested, gives you a paper trail that may be beneficial when businesses don’t comply with the law.
Debt Validation Letter
When debt collectors contact you about a debt and you’re not sure the debt is legitimate, you can request validation. The collector has to investigate your request and send you “competent proof” that the debt is yours and that they’re allowed to collect that debt. This means they need to send something from the original creditor that proves you actually owe that debt. While the collector is obtaining the requested proof, they can’t contact you about that debt.
Cease and Desist Letter
If you want debt collectors to stop contacting you about a debt, you can send a written request not be contacted. A cease and desist letter doesn’t have to be fancy, just request that you not be contacted again. The cease and desist letter only works for that particular debt collector. If a new collector starts collecting on that debt, you’ll have to send another cease and desist letter.
Offer for Settlement
While you can make settlement offers over the phone, some people prefer to make the settlement offer in writing. In your letter you should mention that you’re experiencing financial hardship and can’t afford to pay your debt in full. You should state that you only have a limited number of funds that you can use to settle your debt and make an offer for settlement for your full balance. With your letter you could include a settlement agreement that your creditor can sign and fax or mail back to you.
Credit Report Dispute Letter
If the credit bureau is not reporting debt accurately, you can use a credit report dispute letter to have the debt updated on your credit report. Credit bureaus are required to do an investigation and update your credit report if they find there’s indeed an error on your credit report. Alternatively, you can dispute credit report errors directly with the businesses that listed the error on your credit report. This may be a faster way to get your credit report updated. A credit report dispute letter simply states what type of error is on your credit report and requests that the error be removed. It may help to send copies of proof along with your dispute.
Letter to Remove Billing Errors
You’re not required to pay for credit card charges made in error. You can write a letter to your credit card issuer explaining that an error appears on your credit card statement and ask them to remove it. For example, if a merchant has charged you for an item you never received or that was damaged when you received it, you can write to your credit card issuer asking them to remove the charge. You should send your billing error dispute letter within 30 days from the billing statement to protect your rights.