Stopping creditor harassment for debts you don’t owe

It’s baffling to find yourself targeted by creditors for a debt you’ve already paid off or for a purchase you never made in the first place. Ideally, you’d be able to politely point out their mistake and put an abrupt stop to the matter. Of course, things are rarely so straightforward.

Debt collectors are dogged in their attempts to recover the money they think they’re owed. This can prove to be a major pain for targeted consumers. Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides some consumers with protection from creditor harassment. The following are some steps you can take to put an end to unfair collections practices.

Dispute the claim promptly

You can demand more information about the debt or dispute debts claimed by mistaken creditors. However, you only have a short time to do so. You should make any requests or dispute a charge within 30 days of receiving notice from the creditor. Failing to do so means the creditor will assume the debt is valid.

Verify the debt

If disputing the debt doesn’t force the creditor to back off, the creditor must send you verification of the debt. Unfortunately, verification may only consist of the name and address of the original creditor, or a judgment naming you as the person who owes the debt.

Demand that the creditor stops contacting you

If the verification provides strong proof that the debt isn’t yours, send a written demand to the creditor to have them stop contacting you. Sometimes, this may be enough to end the harassing phone calls.

You can always take legal action

If any of the above steps fail to put an end to collections activities, and you are still enduring creditor harassment, turn to a skilled legal professional. Understanding your available options can help you determine the best way to move forward.