If you receive a collection letter and question some of the details the debt collector supplies, request a written formal verification of the debt and the name and address of the original creditor, reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you disagree with the debt, dispute it in writing within 30 days. If the debt is genuine and you need to pay it back, try to negotiate a deal with the collector, advises Bankrate.
A debt collector contacting you about a debt must inform you of the creditor's name, the amount you owe and your means of disputing or verifying the debt, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Otherwise, the debt collector must supply this information within five days. Date any letters you send, make copies for yourself, and send the originals by certified mail so you have proof that the debt collector receives them. If you dispute the debt promptly, the debt collector is not allowed to contact you again until the investigation is resolved.
Retain records or copies of all phone calls, messages or voice mail that debt collectors send, states Bankrate. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forbids debt collectors from harassing you with constant calls, using abusive language, and calling too early in the morning or too late at night. It also forbids them from communicating with anyone but you and your attorney about the debt, exaggerating the amount you owe, or threatening you with any action they do not plan to take. File a complaint if the debt collector is being abusive or deceptive, counsels the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.