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How Can I Get the Debt Collector to Stop Bothering Me?

03/24/2015 10:13 am ET | Updated May 24, 2015

Question:

Dear Steve,

I'm getting really tired of being hassled for an old debt I don't owe. I keep trying to explain to the debt collectors that I don't owe the bill they keep trying to say I need to pay.

What can I do?

Mary

Do you have a credit or debt related question you'd like to ask me? Just click here. I'm happy to help for free.

Answer:

Dear Mary,

Being chased for a debt you don't owe is not fun. I should know. It wasn't long ago that a debt collector contacted me in an attempt to collect an old bridge toll due from another state, years ago. Just one problem, I didn't live in the country at the time and owned no cars in the U.S. and had never owned one like the one they claimed incurred the toll. It took a bunch of back and forth communications and I had to send a certified letter or two to protect my rights but the matter was resolved and they went away.

When a debt collector contacts you about a debt you don't owe the first inclination is to take the issue personally, but don't. Instead, look at the issue like a process, a really annoying process.

In a perfect world you should not have to waste your time dealing with errors like this but sometimes stuff just happens and the biggest mistake you can make is not dealing with it properly.

The very first thing you should do when contacted is to ask the debt collector for proof you really owe the debt. Who knows, maybe you do owe it and just forgot.

To ask the debt collector to prove the debt is valid you can use one of these five sample letters to ask for more information and to protect your rights. Using one of those letters you can even ask the debt collector to stop contacting you unless they can show evidence you really owe the debt.

While it is not necessary, it doesn't hurt to send your letter by some type of traceable means to prove the debt collector received the letter within 30 days of contacting you. I certainly did that in my situation.

When people are first contacted by a debt collector they tend to get agitated and angry and wind up saying too much or the wrong thing. To avoid becoming on of those people, download the free ebook Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws by Gerri Detweiler and Mary Reed.

Be sure to read the chapter 'When a Debt Collector Contacts You for the First Time' to become incredibly smart about what to do. After you read the free ebook you'll be smarter than 99% of most consumers and prepared to handle the debt collector like an expert.

Steve
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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy. He's been helping people with personal finance troubles through advice and education since 1994. If you would like to ask a question you can visit http://GetOutOfDebt.org/ask and let Steve help you for free.

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This article first appeared on GetOutOfDebt.org.

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