How to Make a Debt Collector Prove a Debt is Really Yours

Yes, it is entirely possible to receive a call from a debt collector about an obligation you don’t have. Mistakes happen, numbers get transposed on spreadsheets and sometimes — sometimes — contact is made in an attempt to scam you out of money. 

This is why it’s critical to know how to make a debt collector prove a debt is really yours — before you accept responsibility for it in any way whatsoever. Any time someone contacts you about a debt — regardless of whether you think you owe it or not — make them prove the validity of their claim, the exact amount you’re alleged to owe and verify they have the legal right to collect money from you at all. 

Why Should You Do This?
As we indicated above, every debt collection call isn’t an authentic one. They could be calling about a bill you satisfied years ago, of which you have but dim recollection. If they ask if you remember owing “X” company and you answer yes, that can be just as good as admitting you currently owe the debt in their eyes and they will pursue you relentlessly. 

There also exists a statute of limitations on debt, the expiration of which inhibits a collector’s ability to institute legal action against you to collect. Yes, you’ll still owe it and it can be listed on your credit report as an unpaid obligation. However, they can’t take you to court to force you to pay — unless they can get you to admit ownership of the debt. 

What’s more, they might just be trying to collect on a debt for which they have no authority to do so. One collection call sounds just like another, until you insist upon being provided with documentation to prove its veracity. 

Don’t Accept the First Call
Upon receiving the first call, tell them you have no recollection of such an obligation, and they’ve reached you at a bad time. 

Without accepting responsibility for the debt, indicate you are interested in getting to the bottom of the situation. Then give them a time at which to call you back. Choose a time affording you ample opportunity to download an app that will let your phone record calls. 

As many Freedom Debt Relief reviews attest, dealing with debt collection calls is stressful under even the “best” of circumstances. It’s easy to get flustered, confused or overwhelmed in the moment. Refusing the call gives you control — and time to prepare to deal with the situation properly.

Insist Upon Written Verification
Tell them you’re recording when they call back. Ask for their permission to record their voice and refuse to accept the call if they won’t consent. Tell them you have no recollection of the obligation after they’ve given you their spiel. Ask them to send you proof of what they’re saying in writing by traditional mail.

You will then be asked to submit a formal request in writing. Take that opportunity to dispute the debt, ask for the name of the original creditor, how much the total amount of the debt is, when the last payment was made and how much of that total amount is interest and added fees. 

Avoid admitting responsibility for the debt out front.

Send your request to the address they provide by certified mail with return receipt requested. This will give you written proof the letter was delivered. Tell them you’d appreciate them refraining from contacting you any further until they get proof the information you’re requesting was delivered. 

Doing this makes them have to prove the debt is really yours and recent enough for them to legally pursue. You can then try to work something out if they do so to your satisfaction. You can also use that letter to dispute the debt if they do not.

Either way, knowing how to make a debt collector prove a debt is really yours can protect you from scams and mistakes. It also helps you maintain control of the collections process. 

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