When you have a complaint or dispute with a creditor, lender, credit bureau, or debt collector, it's best to communicate in writing. Many disputes are time sensitive and a letter, especially sent via certified mail with a return receipt request, gives you a timestamp to track the business' response time.
Here are eight sample letters you can customize and send to handle tough issues like billing statement errors, credit report disputes, and debt validation requests.
You have the right to an accurate credit report
. If you find an error on your credit report, for example, a delinquent account that doesn't belong to you, send a dispute letter to the bureau who issued that credit report. The credit bureau has to investigate and let you know the result within 30 to 45 days.
To stop calls from debt collectors
, use a cease and desist letter. The letter essentially says you no longer wish to be contacted regarding the debt. You don't have to admit to anything or promise to pay later (you probably shouldn't do either of these anyway), just state that you want contact to end.
The cease and desist letter only applies to a particular debt collector, so you may have to send another one if a new collector takes over that debt. You can also use a cease and desist letter to stop wrong number collection calls.
Within the first 30 days of being contacted by a debt collector, you can dispute the validity of the debt and request the collector send you proof that the debt is actually yours. Once the debt collector receives your written validation request, they have to cease collection efforts until they've provided you with proof of the debt.
You can close a credit card account over the phone, but following up with a letter provides confirmation that you requested the account closed at a certain date. The letter might come in handy if there's a future discrepancy over when your account was closed.
A "pay for delete
" is an offer to a creditor or debt collector to remove a negative credit report entry in exchange for payment. These types of offers can also be made over the phone, but a signed letter from the creditor or collector is better proof that an agreement was made. Otherwise, it's your word against theirs.
The statute of limitations
doesn't relieve your obligation to pay a debt and it doesn't stop collectors from trying to get you to pay. You can customize this sample credit letter and send it to debt collectors who continue to attempt collections on a debt that has an expired statute of limitations.
Be careful that you don't say anything in your letter that could restart the statute of limitations. Even acknowledging that you owe the debt can restart the clock, giving the collector more time to sue you.
Many people instinctively call their credit card issuer when they spot a billing error. But, a written billing error dispute letter is necessary if you want the card issuer to abide by the Fair Credit Billing Act
. The law requires creditors to investigate your dispute as long as your letter is sent within a specific timeframe.
Credit card issuers have to give a 45-day advance notice before they raise your interest rate. You can opt-out, but you must do it in writing within the opt-out period. Here's a sample letter you can use to reject a new interest rate.
Letters are a powerful tool to use in communicating with creditors, debt collectors, and other businesses. Keep in mind that thousands or even millions of people may be using the same letter templates are you. Customize sample credit letters when necessary to fit your circumstances.