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Editor's note: In addition to the letters presented below, you also may wish to coinsider sample letters for dealing with debt collectors created by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They were published July 10, 2013.
Debt collectors are limited in what they can do and say by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Often, people in debt can restrict how and when debt collectors can contact them, but to be heard, debtors should assert their rights in writing.
CreditCards.com has assembled sample letters to let debtors state their preferences and make them stick. Select the letter below that best describes your circumstance.
Verification of debt request
This is the first letter a consumer should send if a debt collector calls and asserts a debt is owed. By law, creditors must show you evidence that a debt is owed; until they show it to you, debt collection activity must cease.
Cease communication, harassment
Demands creditor cease communication and harassment without acknowledging a debt is owed. Source: National Consumer Law Center
Text only; customize to describe the harassment
Cease communication, harassment letter, version 2
Demands creditor cease communication and harassment, acknowledging a debt is owed. Source: "Credit Hell: How to Dig Out of Debt" by Howard Dvorkin
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Using the letters
Print it out (PDF) or copy and paste it into a word processing program and customize to your situation. In every case, you will need to fill in your account number; if you don't have it, obtain it from your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each credit bureau. Any letter you send to a creditor should be sent by certified mail.
The letters are provided in simple text (.txt) and PDF formats. Any word processing program can open the text files; to view the PDF formats, you need Adobe Reader (free download).
All letters used with permission.
See related: FTC urges changes to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Struggling debt collectors to debtors: Let's make a deal, Debt collection goes virtual, Ignoring credit card debt can lead to garnishing wages, State by state bankruptcy map, Tips for those considering bankruptcy, Bankruptcies up 38 percent in 2007, What is debt reaffirmation?, 9 questions to ask before reaffirming a debt