Richard S. Lundin
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Personal injury and family law attorney licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia

There are debts you think you owe and those you think you don't.  Both should be formally disputed.


Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have the following rights:

  • Right to NOTICE of the debt
  • Right to CONTEST the debt
  • Right to VERIFY the debt

There is a 30-day time limit in which to dispute the debt.  This means that within 30 days of receiving written notice of a debt, you should send a written dispute to the debt collection agency, by certified mail, return receipt requested.  Click here for a sample letter you can use.


Once you dispute the debt in writing, the debt collector must stop all debt collection activities against you until it sends verification of the debt.  And the debt collector can't report the debt to credit reporting agency until it verifies the debt.


Don’t just dispute it over the phone.  If that’s all you do, the debt collector can continue debt collection activities and will not have to verify the debt.  Send the letter!


Even if you think you probably owe the money, you should formally dispute the debt.  Why trust the word of the debt collector?  The debt collector could be lying or have bad information.  You are entitled to accurate information about your alleged debt, and there is no reason to give your hard-earned money to a debt collector who cannot or will not provide you with this information.


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