Within the first five days that the agency contacted you (whether by phone or mail), they must send you a debt validation notice, which is a letter letting you know you have the right to dispute the validity of the debt within 30 days. If you don’t dispute the debt within 30 days, the collector can assume it is valid. In order to dispute the debt, submit a written validation request. As soon as you do that, they cannot continue to try and collect the debt from you until the dispute is resolved.
Send the debt validation letter via certified mail with return receipt requested (so that you have proof that you sent it, and that it was received). See the sample letter below.
Your Name Address City, State Zip
Debt Collector’s Name Address City, State Zip Re: Account Number
Dear Debt Collector:
I am writing in response to <phone call/letter> received from you on <date>. Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I am requesting that you provide validation of this debt. Note this is not a refusal to pay, but a request that your offices provide me with evidence that I have a legal obligation to pay you.
You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the [your state here] Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued.