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Can a debt collector still collect a debt after I’ve disputed it?

A debt collector must stop all collection activity on a debt if you send them a written dispute about the debt, generally within 30 days after your initial communication with them. Collection activities can restart, though, after the debt collector sends verification responding to the dispute.

You should dispute a debt if you believe you don’t owe it or the information and amount is incorrect.

While you can submit your dispute at any time, sending it in writing within 30 days of receiving a validation notice, which can be your initial communication with the debt collector, requires them to stop their collection activity until they’ve sent you a verification that responds to your dispute.

After they’ve sent you verification of the debt, the collector can continue to contact you unless you take other actions, such as telling them in writing to stop or by taking other legal action. If you still disagree about whether a debt is yours or whether the information or amount is accurate, you may continue to dispute the debt with the debt collector.

If you find the disputed debt on your credit report, you can also dispute it with the credit reporting companies. You can consider contacting a lawyer that specializes in debt collection cases if you don’t believe you can resolve the issue with the debt collector or credit reporting companies. If you win your lawsuit, you can recover lawyer fees and other court costs.

Keep a record of your contact with a debt collector

If you’re being contacted by a debt collector, it’s important to keep a record of any letters, documents, or communications they send to you. Write down dates and times of conversations, along with notes about what you discussed. These records can help you if you’re disputing the debt, meeting with a lawyer, or going to court.

Also, be careful what you say to a debt collector because they will keep records as well. They can track any information you provide, including personal information or if you apologize or admit to owing the debt. Those statements could be used against you.

We have sample letters to help you respond to a debt collector, along with tips on how to use them. The sample letters may help you to get information, set limits on or stop any further communication, or exercise some of your rights.

If you believe a debt collector is harassing you, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB. You can also contact your state's attorney general .

Learn more about debt collection.