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What information does a debt collector have to give me about a debt they’re trying to collect from me?

When a debt collector contacts you about a debt, they are legally required to provide information about that debt, including the name of the creditor, the amount owed, and your right to dispute it. There are some limited exceptions to this rule.

The CFPB’s debt collection rule requires debt collectors to provide you with certain information about your debt, known as validation information. Generally, this information is provided in a written notice sent as the initial communication to you or within five days of their first communication with you, and it may be sent by mail or electronically.

This information will help you recognize whether the debt is yours and, if not, how to dispute it.

This notice generally must include:

  • A statement that the communication is from a debt collector
  • Your name and mailing information, along with the name and mailing information of the debt collector
  • The name of the creditor you owe the debt to
    • It is possible that more than one creditor will be listed
  • The account number associated with the debt (if any)
  • An itemization of the current amount of the debt that reflects interest, fees, payments, and credits since a particular date
  • The current amount of the debt when the notice is provided
  • Information you can use to reply to the debt collector, such as if you believe the debt is not yours or if the amount is wrong
  • An end date for a 30-day period when you can dispute the debt

You may see other information on your notice, but the information listed above generally must be included. If you think a debt collector failed to give you this information, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.

Disputing a debt

As mentioned above, once you receive the validation information, you have 30 days to dispute the debt in writing. Failing to request verification in writing or within this time period can affect your ability to assert your rights under the CFPB’s debt collection rule.

Also, if you send the debt collector the written verification request or request for information about the original creditor within this 30-day period, the debt collector must pause collecting the amount of the debt you are disputing until they’ve adequately responded to your verification request.

If you’re being contacted by a debt collector, you have rights and protections under federal law, including how and when they can contact you. Learn more about your debt collection protections.

Learn more about debt collection.

Still having trouble with debt collection?

Companies can usually answer questions unique to your situation and more specific to the products and services they offer. If you have a complaint, tell us about your issue—we’ll forward your issue to the company, give you a tracking number, and keep you updated on the status of your complaint.

Learn how the complaint process works