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Debt collection response letters provided by US Government Department

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - Posted by Philip Harvey

In the US, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released letter templates for consumers to use when corresponding with debt collectors and debt collection complaints, and called them Action Data Letters. There are 5 Action Letter templates including;

1. Needs more information on the debt.
The first letter is for consumers who need more information about a debt the collector has told them that they owe. The letter states that the consumer is disputing the charges until the debt collector answers specific questions about what is owed. This letter may be useful, for example, for a consumer who may not immediately recognize the debt as their own or for those who want to find out more about the debt before they pay it.

2. Wants to dispute the debt and for the debt collector to prove responsibility or stop communication.
This letter tells the collector that the consumer is disputing the debt and instructs the debt collector to stop contacting the consumer until they provide evidence that the consumer is responsible for that debt. For example, consumers who do not want to discuss the debt until they have additional information verifying the debt might use this template.

3. Wants to restrict how and when a debt collector can contact them.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from contacting a consumer about a debt at a time or place they should know is inconvenient. With this letter, the consumer is able to tell the debt collector how they would like to be contacted. This may be a useful option for a consumer who wants to work with a collector to resolve their debt.

4. Has hired a lawyer.
If a consumer has hired a lawyer, generally, the debt collector should be contacting the lawyer instead of the consumer. This letter template provides a way for the consumer to give the debt collector the lawyer’s information and instruct the collector to contact only the lawyer.

5. Wants the debt collector to stop any and all contact.
Consumers have the right to tell a debt collector to stop all communication. It is important, however, to note that stopping contact from a debt collector does not cancel the debt or prohibit the collector from potentially pursuing other remedies, such as filing a lawsuit. This letter template could be beneficial for those consumers who feel they are being harassed by a collector’s communications.

The CFPB database has recently opened its complaints database to debt collection complaints.

It is interesting to compare to what the ASIC MoneySmart website provides. It provides a template about how to make a complaint about harassment as well as links to hardship, budget calculators and other general information.

This article was sourced from www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/debtcollection/July 2013.


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