What should I do when a debt collector contacts me?

Answer: There are different ways to respond appropriately to debt collectors. Depending on your situation, we have sample letters you can use if you're experiencing common problems.

When contacted, find out the following:

  • Identity of the debt collector, including name, address, and phone number
  • The amount of the debt, including any fees such as interest or collection costs
  • What the debt is for and when the debt was incurred
  • The name of the original creditor
  • Information about whether you or someone else may owe the debt

When a debt collector first contacts you in writing regarding a debt, it must provide you a written notice that has certain, legally-required information. If the collection agency first contacts you by phone, insist that they contact you in writing. Do not give personal or financial information to the caller until you have confirmed it is a legitimate debt collector.

The following sample letters will help if you’re experiencing common problems that may come up with debt collectors.

If you use any of these letters, it’s important to do so as soon as possible after you’re first contacted, and to keep copies of any letters you send. In certain situations, you only have 30 days after you’re contacted to ask for certain information, but even if more than 30 days pass, it’s still a good idea to ask for what you need.

Warning: These sample letters are not legal advice.

Tip

If you’re being sued or think you'll be sued, contact a lawyer.

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