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Letters to the Creditor: Keep Debt Collectors Off Your Back

By Benjamin Platt, Contributing Writer

When creditors relentlessly contact you about a debt, the best thing you can do is often to send a simple letter. It’s a small act, but it can be remarkably powerful. With just one or two pieces of mail, you can force debt collectors to prove what you owe, gather evidence to dispute your debt or mount a legal challenge, or simply stop the harassing phone calls and letters and bring some peace and quiet back to your life.

Debt collectors make their money off of sheer volume. They know that if they make even a minimal effort to collect, they can intimidate the majority of people into paying up just to make the calls and letters stop. When you respond with a letter of your own that makes it clear you know your rights and their responsibilities under the law, you send a clear message: I’m not going to be pushed around so easily. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get a creditor to back off, particularly when they know they don’t have the information to back up their claims.

Don’t let the cost of postage stand between you and a life blissfully free of debt collectors. Here’s a look at just a few of the letters you can use to keep creditors off your back. 

(Remember, for any letter you send a creditor, always keep a copy for yourself, and send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested so they can’t claim they never got it.)




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Dispute and Validation Letter

This is the first letter you should send to anyone who contacts you saying you owe them a debt, especially if you’ve never heard of them before. Companies buy and sell debts every day, and your debt may have changed hands three or four times before this company reached out to you to collect. It’s extremely rare for those debts to be sold along with all the original accompanying documentation, and not all that uncommon for debt buyers to try to collect debt from the wrong person, collect a debt that was already paid, or collect a debt they have no legal right to pursue.

The Dispute and Validation Letter states your legal rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), informs the debt collector that they have 30 days to prove you actually owe them a cent, and forbids them from taking negative action against you with any of the credit bureaus until they do. It also lets them know you’re ready and willing to take legal action or report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just for good measure.

 

debt collector documents

 

Sending this letter tells debt collectors, “I’m not just going to roll over. Now put up or shut up.”

 

Notification that Employer Restricts Personal Calls to Workplace

One of the most common and aggravating tactics debt collectors use is contacting you, your boss, and your coworkers at work. They do this to make you feel like you can’t get away from them, and to shame and embarrass you into paying them to leave you alone. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors can’t call your place of work once you’ve sent them this letter officially telling them to stop.

 

Cease Contact Request

Sure, getting debt collectors to stop bothering you at work is nice, but have you tried getting them to stop bothering you altogether? Under the FDCPA, once you send them this letter, the phone calls have to stop. No more calls at home, no more calls at work, no more calls on your cell. In fact, they have to stop bothering you altogether, unless it’s to let you know that they are filing a lawsuit against you or to tell you that they’re not pursuing the debt anymore.

Like all of the letters here, this won’t stop them from insisting that you owe the debt, or from trying to collect it. But it’ll stop them from making your life so miserable while they do it.

 

Document Request

You sent a Dispute and Validation letter. They insisted you owe the debt and they have a right to try to collect. Now you’re gearing up to fight, DebtCleanse style. This letter is a request for all the most common documents that any creditor ought to have on file for any loan. Note that we said “ought to.” If your loan has been purchased by a debt buyer, it’s entirely likely that they could be missing any number of these critical documents. That’s why this letter is the perfect place to begin looking for creditor deficiencies that you can use to get your creditor to settle your debt for a fraction of its initial value, or even forgive it altogether.  

 

Qualified Written Request

In some ways, the Qualified Written Request is like a more advanced version of the Dispute and Validation Letter above, with the Document Request thrown in for good measure. But whereas the Dispute and Validation Letter is what you send when you’re first contacted about the debt to let your creditor know you’re prepared to fight, the Qualified Written Request is what you send when you’re ready to go to war.

The Qualified Written Request contains highly specific and extensive requests for documentation and processes from your creditor. This letter can help you gather the kind of information you’d want to have if you’re gearing up for a court battle. It’s also a request for documents that you (and/or your DebtCleanse attorney) can analyze to find mistakes and deficiencies that you can turn to your advantage. As a bonus, it’s really long, and it’s a huge pain for the creditor to respond with all of the necessary documentation.

This letter tells your creditors that you are ready to play hardball, and they had better be ready to have their every mistake exposed.

 

Reasons for Objection to Garnishment

If a creditor files a lawsuit against you, always be sure to respond right away. If you just ignore it or wait too long, they win by default. If you respond in a timely fashion (and particularly if you follow it up with a Qualified Written Request), you might scare them off, or at least get them to the negotiating table.

If you miss your chance, or if somehow everything goes wrong and the creditor successfully sues you and gets a judgment against you, they may get your wages garnished. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. There are a number of legal grounds to fight a garnishment. This letter is a simple and straightforward tool for doing just that, and with any luck, keeping more money in your pocket where it belongs.

 

And more…

The letters described above are just the beginning. The DebtCleanse Letter Generator also includes numerous letters custom-tailored to help you fight specific forms of debt.

If you need to:

  • Contact the U.S. Department of Education to request a hearing to fight an unfair student loan debt
  • Dispute an incorrect medical bill and you want the hospital to provide information about their notoriously opaque billing system
  • Notify a payday lender that you are revoking their access to your bank account
  • Request a mortgage loan modification, file a dispute if your request is denied, or make a counter-offer on a modification that would still charge you unreasonable fees
  • Or fight your debt in writing in a number of different ways without driving yourself crazy about the right way to do it

Become a DebtCleanse Premium Member and get these letters and more at the touch of a button.

At DebtCleanse, we know that it’s one thing to know how powerful a letter can be, but another thing entirely to actually write one. What do you say? What should you ask for? Are there certain magic phrases you need to know for a letter to be enough? That’s why we’ve taken all the guesswork out of it. DebtCleanse Premium Members get access to our Letter Generator, among other online tools.

Just input your information to quickly and easily generate over 20 different letters, ready to be mailed, filled with everything you need to assert your rights and keep the debt collectors on the defensive. Additionally, if you select a DebtCleanse Plan Attorney they’ll be able to generate letters on your behalf, and make any customizations they see fit. They'll also be able to print those letters and mail them out on their own letterhead, letting creditors and collectors know that you've got legal representation of your own on your side.

Don’t forget to sign up for DebtCleanse’s email list to stay up to date on all the latest news in our fight against America’s consumer debt crisis.

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