Debt Collection Notice

Have you received a debt collection notice? Here, we explain what the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says about these notices.

You are reading Debt Collection Answers Ch1-8 (Chapter 1, part 8). If you did not start at the beginning of this free guide to dealing with debt collectors, please return to the Debt collection Answers introduction.

When a Debt Collector Contacts You For the First Time

A debt collector may contact you for the first time about a past due debt by letter or by phone. If a debt collector uses a letter, the FDCPA requires that debt collection notice includes the following information:

  • The amount of money that the debt collector says you owe.
  • To whom you owe the debt.
  • Your right to dispute all or part of the debt in writing within 30 days of the debt collector’s initial contact.
  • Your right to receive written verification of the debt or a copy of any court judgment against you that is related to the debt. However, in order to receive written verification you must notify the debt collector in writing within 30 days of his first contact that you dispute the validity of the debt or that you disagree with the amount of the debt.
  • Your right to request the name and address of the original creditor related to the debt if that creditor is not the current collector of the debt. Again, you must request this information in writing within 30 days of the date that the debt collector first contacts you.

Tip: Lawsuits related to the FDCPA have established that a debt collector must provide you with its address in this debt collection notice, so if the collection agency’s address is not on the debt collector’s initial letter, ask for it. The same is true if the debt collector contacts you for the first time by phone and does not offer his address. You will need the address if you want to request that the debt collector provide you with written verification of the debt, if you want to dispute the debt, or if the debt collector violates your legal rights and you want to file a complaint against the debt collector and/or sue the debt collector.

If a debt collector uses the telephone to contact you for the first time about a debt, the law says that he must:

  • Tell you that he is attempting to collect a debt that he believes you owe.
  • Tell you that he may use any information you share with him to collect the debt.
  • Give you his name, the name and address of his employer, his work number, and the name of the creditor for whom he is collecting the debt. Also, the debt collector must send this same information to you in writing within five days of his phone call. Even so, you should also request the information during your first conversation with the debt collector assuming you’ve not already received it by mail.

Again, you will need this information if you want to dispute the debt, or if the debt collector violates your legal rights and you want to file a complaint or sue.

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