What Do I Do If I Receive a Debt Collection Letter from an Attorney's Office?

Respond assertively to a debt collection attorney.
Respond assertively to a debt collection attorney. (Image: Derek E. Rothchild/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Debt collection attorneys frequently send letters to people, demanding payment on debts. These attorneys buy unpaid credit card debts and loans from creditors, then they turn around and attempt to collect the money from the people identified by the creditors. In some instances, these attorneys may not legally own the debt--but they’re going to try to get back some of the money they spent buying the debt.


Before you decide to make payments to the debt collection attorney, verify whether the debt is truly yours. Look through your credit records and make sure the debt is yours. If it is not, start putting all your documentation together, showing you don’t owe the debt.


You have the right to dispute the debt. Do so in writing. By law, your letter must be sent within 30 days after you receive the collection letter, according to the Maximizing Money website. Date your letter and include your name and address, along with the attorney’s name and address. Refer to the debt he says you owe and specifically tell him you do not believe you owe the money. Refer to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Validating Debts – this section requires the debt collector to stop collection efforts until he has verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment or the name and address of the creditor. Ask the attorney to send the amount of the debt, the creditor’s name (to whom the money is owed), a verification of the debt and written proof that the attorney is licensed to collect debts in your state. Let the attorney know you are aware of your rights under the FDCPA. Further, let the attorney know he doesn’t have to respond to your letter, but if he tries to start collection efforts, he’s violating the FDCPA.


Tell the debt collection attorney that you are the only person to contact regarding the debt--you don’t want him contacting your spouse, siblings, parents, friends, neighbors or employers. Remind him he knows where you live and how to contact you and now that you’ve claimed your right to privacy, he would be in violation of the FDCPA, according to the Privacy Rights website.


Make a copy of the debt collection letter the debt collection attorney sent to you. Include copies of your records, showing why you are disputing the debt. When you do so, this forces the attorney to stop collection efforts as he now has to take the time to verify whether you owe the debt or not, according to the Maximizing Money website.


Don’t give in and pay the debt just to get the collection attorney off your back. Sending in even one payment signals your acknowledgement that you are responsible for the debt, according to the Privacy Rights website. Instead, wait until you receive written confirmation that you do not owe the debt, if this is the case.

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