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I’m Not Sure What to Say In My Letter to a Collection Agency

November 17th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Collection Agencies

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: April 5, 2011)

Many people know they need to respond to a letter or phone call from a collection agency, but they might not know exactly what to say. In general, it’s not usually a good idea to speak to a collection agent when they call, let alone respond to a letter over the phone. This leaves the written response as the recommended avenue. There are two types of letters to send to a collection agency in response to first contact – debt validation and investigation request.

In any letter to a collection agency, the language you use is very important. One term you should NEVER use in a letter to a collection agency: “debt verification”. Asking for this is covered neither under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) or the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If you send a letter with these words, the collection agency is legally bound to do NOTHING.

Let’s cover the specific language you should use for each type of letter:

Debt Validation Request
You need to use the magic words “debt validation” to invoke the protections under the FDCPA. In addition, you need to have sent this letter within the first 30 days after first communication from the collection agency (phone or letter). For a review on debt validation, read our debt validation. Here is a sample debt validation letter.

Investigation Request
You need to use the magic words “request investigation” to invoke the protections under the FCRA. Requesting an investigation is technically the same as disputing a negative listing with the credit bureaus. It’s a very effective technique. To learn more about this method, read our Dispute with Original Creditor article. Here is a sample investigation request letter.

Other Types of Letters
If the collection agency can correctly respond to your requests, you can always tell them to go away with a cease and desist letter as is your right under the FDCPA. You can also try making them a settlement offer.

Cease Communication – You can send a “cease and desist” letter asking a collection agency to stop contacting you, but you can’t tell them to only contact you in writing or only by phone etc. It’s an all or nothing letter – stop all communication. Here is a sample letter.

Debt Settlement Offier – If you want to make the collection agency or junk debt buyer an offer to settle, you should read up up on this article.

We hope this article helps clear up some of the confusion, but if you have any more questions, tell us by leaving a comment!!

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Kerl

    Thanks dear.
    Your article is kool

  • DidIDoIt

    I’ve had excellent help from this site this week on how to respond to a summons. I think the only hurdle I have for the moment is figuring out the proper form to use for Oregon State Circuit Court. It specifically says to use the correct form. I can’t make sense of the Oregon State Circuit Court forms website by the names they give them. What is the correct form to respond with for Oregon Circuit Court? Where can I locate it?

  • Kevin

    I have always found it helpful to ask the clerk of court. They cannot give legal advice, but they can tell you the correct form to use and send it to you. They also have to check it before they file it. Regardless of which form you use, an attempt to file the form is a timely response in most states. In my state, Maryland, the clerks office is very helpful to pro se people.

  • Hostage

    Portfolio Recovery Associates (bottomfeeders) are saying I owe a debt that is 17 years old, this is not my debt, I don’t owe. They say I have to get an attorney (cannot afford) to prove I don’t owe. I have made complaints in my state and VA and FTC. Now what do I do with the dispute packet as I cannot pay for an attorney and debt is not mine. PRA said I will get a 1099c!

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