No one wants to get that dreaded call from a debt collector. However, you can not ignore them. Debt collectors will only continue contacting you, even more so if you actively avoid them and don’t communicate. Even if you don’t believe the debt is correct, you must communicate and go through the proper channels to stop collectors from calling you.

So, if you start getting calls from debt collectors on debts you don’t owe, here is what you must do. 

Collect Validation Information 

Fortunately, debt collectors are legally required to provide you with certain information about the debt, also called validation information. This information can help you properly assess the debt and determine your next steps. 

Validation information can include: 

  • The amount owed
  • The creditor’s name
  • The option to dispute the debt, but you must do it within 30 days, or else it will be assumed valid.
  • Verification of the debt if you dispute it within 30 days
  • The option to request the original creditor’s name and address within 30 days

What to Do if it’s Not Your Debt

Once you obtain the verification information and conclude that it is not your debt, you must get to work immediately. Your first step is to dispute the debt altogether within 30 days of getting the notice. Once you have disputed the debt, the debt collectors can not contact you any further. 

If you believe that the debt was put on your record illegally, for example, through identity theft, you must take further action to report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and start the process of analyzing your accounts, credit report, and finances to see if there are any inconsistencies elsewhere. This can help prevent and stop further identity theft issues.

What to Do if You’ve Already Paid the Debt

If you obtain the verification information and are able to see that the debt being reported is past debt that you have already paid off or released from your record, you can take steps to stop the collectors. Firstly, ensure that the collectors calling you are who they say you are and not part of a scam to collect your information illegally. You can be sure they are who they say they are if they have the proper validation information. 

Then, take the time to explain that the debts have already been paid and send over copies of documents to prove you made the payments. This could be canceled checks, credit card statements, and correspondence on settling the debt. If you don’t have this information on hand, you can always go back to the original collector and ask for documentation saying you’ve paid off the debt. Once you have sent that over to the collectors, communication will cease. 

Keep Records and Collect Evidence 

Throughout this process, it is wise to keep records of any files or documents that debt collectors send you, along with detailed documentation on when they call and what was discussed. These records might never be necessary, but on the off chance you need to speak with an attorney about the debt because it is a larger problem than initially thought, having these records can be helpful. 

Additionally, if you take steps to dispute a debt, hold onto any and all records of that process. Essentially, if you are doing anything that revolves around your debt or the debt of an identity thief, you want to keep careful and detailed records for your sake. 
Debt collectors can call any of us, but picking up the phone is essential. If you have further questions or are dealing with creditors who are not taking your situation seriously, contact the team at Stecklein Robertson Law.