Sample Credit Dispute Letter

Are you desperately wanting to have those stubborn negative items removed from your credit report but don’t know where to start? Maybe they’re dragging your credit score down and you’re being rejected for credit cards or loan products at every turn. Or maybe you just want a peace of mind knowing that your credit score is no longer in the trenches. Either way, a credit dispute letter is an effective tool to get you moving in the right direction.

Read on to learn more about credit dispute letters, how they work, and what type of negative items they can be used for. You’ll also notice a handy template towards the end of the article if you’re stuck and don’t know where to start.

What is a credit dispute letter?

In a nutshell, a credit dispute letter is a mechanism that’s used to notify the credit bureaus of inaccurate or untimely information in your report. It also prompts the credit bureaus to launch a full-fledged investigation by contacting the information furnisher to determine if the item in question is indeed valid or should be removed.

From the time the credit bureaus receive your credit dispute letter and any supporting documentation, they have 30 days to complete their review and respond with a written outcome. Otherwise, the item must be removed from your credit report.

It’s important to file disputes to rectify inaccurate or untimely information on your credit report because negative entries that don’t belong could be dragging down your score. This could result in exorbitant interest rates, unfavorable credit terms, or being denied altogether. You could also miss out on that dream job, be denied occupancy for an apartment, or receive a higher insurance premium.

What type of information can be disputed?

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, “both the credit reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.”

Therefore, any entries in your report that contain errors, are past the reporting timeline, questionable, or do not tell the entire story is eligible for dispute. This could include but is not limited to:

  • Incorrect identifying information, such as your name, address, or Social Security number
  • Late payments that were actually paid on time
  • Collection accounts or public records that have passed the reporting timeline and should be removed
  • Erroneous accounts that you have no knowledge of and are on your report as a result of fraud
  • Duplicate entries listed for the same account or collection item
  • Errors in the account details, including the credit limit, monthly payment amount, or account status

But what about negative information that’s timely and accurate? While it technically doesn’t fall into the parameters of what’s eligible for dispute, you can always take your chances and hope that the creditor or collection agency doesn’t respond or can’t provide proof to validate the debt. If this happens, the credit bureaus will be forced to rule in your favor and remove the negative item. You also run the risk of having your dispute classified as frivolous and thrown out.

How to submit a credit dispute letter

Credit dispute letters are sent directly to the credit bureaus. However, it’s not a bad idea to notify the creditor, lender or information furnisher of your dispute once it’s been filed. And in some instances, it may be worthwhile to contact the creditor before you file the dispute to try and rectify the issue.

But if you’re already at the point where the credit dispute letter is drafted up and ready to go, along with any supporting documentation, here’s how to submit the entire package:

By Mail

This is the best way to submit your dispute letters to the credit bureaus. The instructions for submitting credit dispute letters by mail is as follows:

Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Experian: P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

Be sure to only send copies, and not originals, just in case the package gets lost in the mail. And don’t forget to include photocopies of two forms of identification as it’s required by the credit bureaus to establish your identity.

Also, request that it be sent via certified mail with a return receipt so you’ll know exactly when the letter arrives at its intended destination.

By Phone

Do you prefer to speak with a customer service representative from the credit bureaus to file your dispute? They can be reached by phone at the numbers below:

Equifax: 1-866-349-5191

Experian: disputes can only be filed by mail or online

TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

Word of caution: filing a dispute by phone does not afford you the opportunity to maintain a paper trail, which could be problematic. For starters, there’s no way to prove that the credit bureaus stayed within the 30-day timeframe when investigating your dispute as you have no way of knowing when the clock started. Furthermore, there may be a delay in the processing of your dispute because you’ll have to go through a separate channel to submit any supporting documentation that substantiates your claims.

Online

Filing credit disputes online are a convenient way to get the ball rolling. But unfortunately, there’s a major drawback to this approach. When you file a dispute online, you forfeit the right to re-dispute the item in question if the credit bureaus side with the information provider. So, it may be best to send in your credit dispute letter and supporting documentation by mail so you won’t lose your ability to submit a follow-up dispute if necessary.

If you would still like to file a dispute online, the credit bureau’s dispute websites are listed below:

Equifax: http://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes

Experian: www.experian.com/acrdispute

TransUnion: https://dispute.transunion.com

Writing credit dispute letters

What to include

When drafting up your credit dispute letter, be sure to include the following:

  • Your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
  • Date the letter was drafted
  • Reason for the dispute
  • Account name and number
  • Request that the incorrect or untimely information be removed or updated
  • The corresponding credit report or confirmation number

Some important tips

  • Always use language that’s clear and professional. While credit bureaus are mandated by federal law to investigate and respond to all disputes within a 30-day window, they also reserve the right to deem your dispute as frivolous and toss it out.
  • The more supporting documentation, the better. You want to make it as easy as possible for the credit bureaus to rule in your favor. And it never hurts to provide more than enough evidence to plead your case.

Sample Credit Dispute Letter

(Your Name)

(Your Address)

(Your City, State, Zip Code)

(Social Security number

(Date of Birth)

(Date)

Credit Report Dispute Department)

(Credit Bureau)

(Street Address)

(City, State, Zip Code)

To whom it may concern,

The reason for this letter is to dispute an item on my credit report. Attached is a copy of my credit report (insert credit report or confirmation number) with the item in question (circled/highlighted).

This item, (insert the name of the item, type, and any other applicable information like the account number) is (inaccurate, untimely, incomplete) because (insert your reasoning).

As a result, I am requesting that the item be (removed, updated, or any other applicable action).

I have also enclosed a copy of [describe any supporting documentation that you’ve enclosed]. Please investigate my dispute and rectify the issue as soon as possible. Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

(insert signature here)

(Your Name)

What to Do If My Credit Dispute Letter Is Ignored

If 30 days or more have lapsed and you still haven’t received a response, don’t be alarmed. Creditors don’t always answer right away, and when they do, chances are they will try to drag the process out by requesting even more documentation or something along those lines.

The smartest move is to give them what they what. But if you’ve already gone above and beyond to do your part, you’ll want to file another dispute using a new letter to plead your case once again. Be sure to include notes or documents that are related to any correspondence you’ve had with the creditor.

A thorough dispute letter with adequate documentation will usually get the results you’re looking for. However, it may be necessary to step it up a notch by seeking legal counsel or hiring a credit repair professional to turn up the heat on the creditor or credit bureaus.

The Bottom Line

Credit dispute letters are an effective way to clean up your credit report. But if you don’t feel comfortable drafting up letters on your own, you can always solicit the assistance of a reputable credit repair company to do the legwork for you.

Sample Credit Inquiry Removal Letter

Credit inquiries won’t necessarily tank your credit score, but they can lower it by more than a few points if you’re not careful. But what about credit inquiries that you didn’t authorize? Keep reading to learn how to have them removed. You can also use our credit inquiry removal letter template to get started.

What is a credit inquiry removal letter?

A credit inquiry removal letter is used to alert the credit bureaus of an unauthorized inquiry and request that it be removed. Upon receipt, it is the credit bureaus duty to investigate your claim with the information provider and make a decision about whether it should remain or be deleted from your credit report.

While inquiries don’t have a major impact on your credit score, damage could result if too many appear in a short window of time. That’s why it’s important to have unauthorized inquiries removed as your report should only reflect what is accurate.

What are the different types of credit inquiries?

There are two types of inquiries that appear on your credit report.

Hard credit inquiries

Also known as voluntary credit inquiries, hard credit inquiries are generated when you submit an application for a debt product. This includes personal loans, student loans, auto loans, home loans, and credit cards.

They are classified as voluntary because they stem from actions take on your behalf to obtain credit. In essence, you’re granting lenders and creditors permission to review your credit profile to reach a lending decision.

Each time a hard credit inquiry appears on your credit report, your credit score will decrease between two and five points. However, an exception to the rule applies to what’s known as rate shopping.

In a nutshell, rate shopping allows you to apply with multiple lenders without sustaining too much damage to your credit score. The FICO scoring model will recognize that you are shopping for the most competitive loan product and will group all related hard inquiries generated in a 45-day window into a single credit inquiry.

This means you have the freedom to apply with various lenders when you’re searching for the best deal on an auto loan, home loan, personal loan, or student loan. And while this may seem a bit too tedious for you, it’s definitely worthwhile to do your homework until you find a low interest rate as a small increase could cost you hundreds or thousands more over the life of the loan.

Soft credit inquiries

Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries have no impact on your credit score. Why so? In some instances, they result from credit pulls that you did not authorize, which is more common than you may realize.

In fact, scores of creditors and lenders screen credit data to determine if consumers potentially qualify for their offerings. Those that seem to be a good fit will receive unsolicited correspondence by mail inviting the prospects to apply.

Your current creditors may also run soft credit checks to gauge how you’re managing your existing debt obligations. If there are signs of chronic mismanagement or financial trouble on the horizon, they may decrease your credit limit or close out your account altogether to minimize the risk of default on their account. On the contrary, current creditors could also like what they see and consequently increase your credit line or invite you to take advantage of a special promotion they’re offering.

You may also have soft credit inquiries on your report from a credit card or loan pre-approval. Select lenders and credit card providers afford you the opportunity to submit your information to determine if you have a strong chance of qualifying for their offerings with no impact to their credit score. This is a win-win for consumers as they can determine if a debt product is worth applying for without affecting their credit score.

How long do credit inquiries remain on your credit report?

Hard credit inquiries sit on your report for 24 months. However, they are only factored into the FICO scoring model for 12 months, which means your score will no longer be impacted after this time period.

What happens when you check your own credit?

Afraid to check your own credit? Don’t be. Credit checks you initiate count as soft inquiries and will not impact your credit score.

Writing credit inquiry removal letters

Have you reviewed your credit report and noticed hard inquiries that you did not authorize? The next step is to draft up a letter to have the items removed.

What to include

Before you sit down and start pecking away at your keyboard, be sure you have your credit report on hand. You’ll want to highlight or circle the inquiry in question. A photocopy of this report should be included with your letter. That way, the credit bureaus will know exactly which inquiry to investigate.

 

The next step is to draft up the letter using language that is concise and clearly conveys what you’re seeking. Be sure to include the following components in your letter:

  • Name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
  • Today’s date
  • Reason for the dispute
  • Description of the inquiry (including the creditor’s name, date of the inquiry, and page number of where it appears in your credit report)
  • Request for prompt removal
  • The credit report or the confirmation number that includes the unauthorized inquiry

How to submit a credit inquiry dispute letter (where to send)

When your letter is received by the credit bureaus, they have 30 days to respond or the inquiry must be removed from your credit report. Below are your options to confirm your package lands in the right hands:

By mail

Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Experian: P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

By phone

Equifax: 1-866-349-5191

Experian: disputes can only be filed by mail or online

TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

Online

Equifax: http://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes

Experian: www.experian.com/acrdispute

TransUnion: https://dispute.transunion.com

*Quick note: You should also contact the lender or creditor that reported the inquiry to your credit report. Make them aware of your active dispute and kindly ask that they remove the credit inquiry from your report. They may be willing to do so before the letter even reaches their office, which expedites the process.

Sample credit inquiry removal letter

(Name)

(Address)

(City, State, Zip Code)

(Social Security Number)

(Date of Birth)

(Today’s Date)

(Credit Report Dispute Department)

(Credit Bureau Name)

(Street Address)

(City, State, Zip Code)

To whom it may concern,

The reason for this letter it to dispute an unauthorized inquiry on my credit report. On (insert date of report), I retrieved a copy of my credit report (insert credit report number) and discovered an inquiry that I have no knowledge of.

Because I did not apply for credit with (insert creditor or lender), I have also reached out asking that they remove the inquiry from my credit profile.

Please launch an investigation into (creditor’s name) inquiry to determine who authorized it. Upon completion, please provide written correspondence that details the results of your findings.

If you find that the inquiry is invalid, I am requesting that it be removed from my credit report as soon as possible. But if (creditor’s name) is able to prove that the inquiry is indeed valid, please provide written proof and a description of how the investigation was conducted.

Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

(insert signature here)

(Name)

What to do if my credit inquiry removal letter is ignored

You have the option to initiate another dispute or hire a professional credit repair company to do the legwork for you. If you’re leaning towards the latter, keep in mind that it’s only a worthwhile investment if you have other negative entries in your credit report that need to be addressed.

But if the questionable inquiry is older or isn’t making a big dent in your credit score, it may be worthwhile to just ignore it altogether and let time run its course until it falls off your report.

Sample Pay for Delete Letter

If you’ve been searching for ways to clean up your credit report, pay for delete letters may a tool you need in your arsenal.

Let’s say you submit an application for credit and are denied as a result of past credit missteps. This prompts you to review your credit report. And when you take a look, you notice a collection account that’s dragging down your credit score and making it nearly impossible to qualify for credit card or loan products. Bummer.

Or maybe you were aware a collection account exists on your credit report because debt collectors call your phone day and night. But you aren’t quite sure what the best course of action is to make the calls stop and fix your credit at the same time.

That’s where pay for delete letters come in. Not only can they get the debt collectors off your back, but there’s also a strong possibility that they’ll help revive your mangled credit score.

How Do Pay for Delete Letters Work?

Pay for delete letters are relatively straightforward. It’s a request to the lender on your behalf to delete the collection item from your credit report in exchange for payment. And it doesn’t have to be for the full amount owed. Most consumers offer a fraction of what’s owed and negotiate from there.

But shouldn’t you just pay the debt off to make it go away? Not necessarily. Collection accounts linger on your credit report for seven years from the original date of delinquency, so you have the option to wait until the fall off. However, you could be sued in the court of law and handed a judgment, which does even more damage to your credit score. As a result, most consumers will pay the balance in full or work out a settlement arrangement to avoid this fate.

The problem is paid collections don’t magically disappear from your credit report. Instead, they linger until the reporting timeline lapses and simply updated to a paid or settled collection. End result: little to no improvement to your credit score, which is probably one of the primary reasons why you took care of the debt in the first place. (Quick note: if you’re applying for a home loan, the lender will require that you pay off or settle any outstanding collections before they can approve your application. You should also know that some newer credit scoring models ignore small collection accounts and select paid collections altogether).

Are Pay for Delete Letters Effective?

There’s a lot of chatter about the effectiveness of pay for delete letters. Some swear by them and others dismiss them as a shady, unethical, and borderline illegal way to clean up your credit report.

Reasoning: credit bureaus are legally required to report accurate and timely information on your report. In turn, lenders and creditors must ensure that the data furnished to the credit bureaus accurately depict what’s going on with consumer accounts. But if you’re able to convince the collection agency to enter into a pay for delete agreement, the information presented on your credit report is no longer accurate and doesn’t tell the entire story about a particular debt.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want to go this route. But pay for delete letters have worked for many who were willing to be persistent to go the extra mile to get the creditor or collection agency’s attention. And if you find that it works for you, be sure to only propose an amount that you can actually pay or you’ll burn the bridge. (And keep in mind that the debt collector probably won’t be open to payments).

Writing a Pay for Delete Letter

It doesn’t take a ton of effort to draft up a pay for delete letter. But before you get started, you want to peruse your credit report to ensure the collection account is showing up in multiple places.

If you find that this is the case, send dispute letters through the credit bureaus asking that the collection agencies prove that you actually owe the debt. Doing so will weed out those that have no claims to the debt and remove all the extra entries on your report. Once you’ve determined who actually has rights to collect on the outstanding balance, send a written request asking that they send a detailed breakdown of what you owe. (Important: never admit that you owe the debt).

Note the contact information as you’ll be using it to reach out. Also, come up with a number that you’re willing and able to pay to satisfy the debt. Once you’ve done so, draft up a letter asking that they delete the negative entry on your credit report in exchange for payment.

You should include the following components in your letter:

  • Your name and address
  • Debt collector’s name and address
  • Account number
  • Original creditor
  • Outstanding balance
  • Request that a goodwill removal be initiated without admitting that you owe the debt
  • The amount you’re willing to pay and by what method
  • Offer expiration date

Can you arrange a pay-for-delete agreement by phone?

You may be tempted to call, but refrain from doing so as you won’t have a paper trail. The debt collector can tell you anything on the phone, but what holds up in the event that they don’t fulfill their end of the bargain is written proof of the arrangement.

Sample Pay for Delete Letter

(Your Name)

(Your Address)

(Debt Collector’s Name)

(Debt Collector’s Address)

(Account Number)

(Balance)

(Original Creditor’s Name)

Dear (Debt Collector’s Name),

I recently reviewed my credit report and was made aware of a balance I allegedly owe for the account from (insert original creditor’s name) listed above.

I assume no ownership or responsibility for this debt, but I would like to propose a settlement offer if you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • The amount paid will satisfy the outstanding debt obligation in full. This means that you cannot sell the debt to another party.
  • You agree to keep this arrangement confidential and not disclose any part of it to third parties.
  • Upon receipt of payment, your company will remove any entries or information related to this account in its entirety from my credit report. This should be done for each of the credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).
  • Once the account is deleted, you will not relist it as settled or paid in full.

If you’re willing to follow these terms and conditions, I will remit payment in the amount of (insert amount). Funds will be sent by (insert payment method; cashier’s check or money order preferred).

I’d like to reiterate that I am not assuming responsibility for this debt or promising to pay. I’m simply proposing a settlement offer that will only be executed if you agree to the terms and conditions listed above.

This offer is valid for (insert timeframe) days. If you’d like to move forward, please respond in writing on a company letterhead. The letter should also be signed by a member of upper-management that has the ability to uphold the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

(Your Name typewritten; do not insert your signature)

Sample Debt Validation Letter

Is a collection agency pestering you about a debt you don’t think you owe? You can either pick up the phone and give them a tongue lashing, demand more information, or ignore the calls altogether. Or, you can take the high road and send them a debt validation letter.

How Do Debt Validation Letters Work?

A debt validation letter is a written request sent to the creditor or collection agency by the consumer requesting that they prove they can legally collect on the debt. In other words, you are asking that they provide evidence that the debt is valid, belongs to you, and is not outside of the timeframe, or statute of limitations, in which they can collect the outstanding balance owed.

The burden of proof is on the creditor or collection agency to substantiate their claim when you submit a debt validation letter. But if they fail to respond to your letter, you can follow it up with a dispute letter to the credit bureaus requesting that the account be removed from your credit report.

Are Debt Validation Letters Effective?

The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors send you a written notice validating their rights to collect on the debt. This should be done within five days of the initial contact they have with you.

But if you never received it, you shouldn’t have a problem receiving a response this time around as they debt collector is aware that not responding could result in them forfeiting their opportunity to collect on the debt altogether if you take it up a notch and notify the credit bureaus. Furthermore, they are in direct violation of the FDCPA for not responding and could face harsh penalties.

Writing a Debt Validation Letter

You can’t just draft up a letter demanding that collection agency prove that you owe them. Instead, you want to use a professional tone and include the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • The date of initial contact made by the collection agency (if applicable)
  • A request for more detailed information, including the name of the original creditor and supporting documentation to prove you actually owe the debt
  • The most recent billing statement the collection agency received from the original creditor
  • A copy of the original contract between yourself and the original creditor

Also, refrain from mentioning any intentions to repay the debt. And be sure not to offer any language that suggests you owe the debt.

Where to Send Debt Validation Letters

Since you’re technically not disputing the debt, your letter should not be mailed to the credit bureau. Instead, you’ll want to send it directly to the collection agency via certified mail with a return receipt. This way, you’ll have proof of when the letter arrived and can start the countdown to receiving a response.

And as mentioned earlier, in the event they don’t respond, you can file a formal dispute with the credit bureaus. In the dispute letter, you can cite the collection agency’s failure to respond to your request as grounds for removal of the collection account from your credit report.

Some Important Tips

  • Don’t bother if the statute of limitations for collection is almost up. Remember, the impact on your credit score will diminish as the collection account ages. And even if there’s some time left for it to be reported, you won’t have to worry about the debt collector chasing you down after the statute of limitations has passed. But if you go forward with the debt validation letter, you could awaken the sleeping beast.
  • Use the letter to your advantage to buy time. Has the debt collector contacted you for the first time regarding the account recently? If you respond in writing using a debt validation letter within 30 days, all collection efforts must come to a halt until they can provide proof that the debt is yours and they have the right to collect on it.
  • Debt validation letters may also be effective for credit repair if the account has been passed from agency to agency. This usually means that documentation has slipped through the cracks and they won’t be able to prove you owe them.

But if you don’t receive a formal response, don’t hesitate to file a formal dispute to have the item removed from your credit report. It also doesn’t hurt to file a formal grievance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is sure to get the collection agency’s attention and could result in hefty fines and penalties.

Sample Debt Validation Letter

(Name)

(Address)

(Today’s Date)

(Debt collector’s name)

(Debt collector’s address)

Re: (Account number provided by the debt collector, if applicable)

To whom it may concern:

This letter is in reference to an attempt by your company to collect a debt. The date of initial contact was (insert date here), and you reached out via (phone or mail) inquiring about (insert details provided by the debt collector to you about the debt).

In order to fully understand your request, I’m asking that you provide me with a written response that includes the following:

  • Information pertaining to the creditor that the debt is owed, including their name, physical address, and phone number. If there are multiple creditors or collection agencies associated with the debt, please provide their information as well.
  • The total amount that is owed to the creditor, including a detailed breakdown of any applicable charges that have been incurred since you initially received the debt.
  • A photocopy of the last billing statement the creditor sent to me before the debt was turned over to collections.
  • The outstanding balance when you received the debt, and the date you initially received the debt.
  • Proof that I owe the debt and that you have the legal right to collect on it. This could include the original contract from the creditor with a signature or any other documentation from the creditor that proves I owe the debt.
  • Proof that the debt is still within the statute of limitations and the method you use to make this determination.
  • A photocopy of the agreement
  • Proof that you are licensed to collect debt in my state of residence. Please provide a copy of your license or the name on the license, date it was issued, along with the applicable address and phone number that corresponds with the license. I also ask that you provide information on the agency that issued the license. And if not, why you feel that you can initiate debt collection efforts.

By providing me with this information, I’ll be able to make an informed decision regarding the outstanding debt and your claim that I’m liable and owe it.

I’m also interested in knowing how much you are willing to accept in exchange for settlement of the debt that you claim I owe. Please provide this information in writing when responding to this letter.

Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

(Name- refrain from typing your signature)

Sample Cease and Desist Letter

Calls from debt collectors got you down? If you’re in a financial bind and can’t afford to negotiate settlements to take care of the debts you owe, you may be tempted to change your number so they can think you disappeared off the face of the Earth. A better option: draft up a cease and desist letter to bring the calls and letters to a halt.

Keep reading to learn more about how they work, potential drawbacks you should be aware of, and how to draft up your own cease and desist letter to send to debt collectors.

How Do Cease and Desist Letters Work?

When you’re fed up with debt collectors and no longer want to hear from them, you can send over a cease and desist letter. It’s a formal request that requires them to stop reaching out regarding the debt you allegedly owe.

An important note: cease and desist letters only work with third-party debt collectors. If the original creditor has an in-house team that makes calls and sending out letters in an attempt to collect on the debt, a cease and desist letter won’t do anything to impede their efforts.

Are Cease and Desist Letters Effective?

While cease and desist letters are an effective remedy to the frustration, anger, and guilt caused by constant calls and letters from debt collectors, they do come with drawbacks that you should also consider.

Benefits of Cease and Desist Letters

  • Could halt collection efforts forever: If the debt is minimal or the collection agency feels the costs of collecting on the debt will outweigh the benefits, they may decide to move on. In this case, the debt will remain on your credit report until the reporting timeline lapses, but they will no longer attempt to contact you.
  • Peace of mind: Do you toss and turn at night thinking about debt? Or maybe you’re stressed out throughout the day and the constant calls and letters from debt collectors make it difficult to function like a normal person and get through the day? Requesting that all forms of communication be stopped through a cease and desist letter could give you the peace of mind needed to focus on what you need to accomplish. While it’s a risky move, it beats having anxiety attacks and restless nights.

Drawbacks of Cease and Desist Letters

  • Could accelerate collection efforts: As mentioned earlier, receiving a cease and desist letter could cause the debt collector to abandon the debt and move on. But there are no guarantees that they won’t sell it off to another debt collector. In fact, they can do so without violating the law, and this could mean even firmore calls and letters for you. (This also means you’ll have to send out a new cease and desist letter to the new collection agency to make the calls and letters stop). On the other hand, the debt collector could decide that it’s a worthwhile investment to pursue a lawsuit against you to collect what’s owed. This could result in a major financial blow to your wallet as you could be forced to pay through wage garnishments.
  • More damage to your credit report: Accelerated collection efforts also have serious implications for your credit report. If the debt is sold to another collection agency, you’ll receive another negative mark on your credit report, which dings your credit score once again. And if the debt collector sues you in the court of law and a judgment is issued, you’ll also incur more damage to your credit report and score.

Writing a Cease and Desist Letter

Are you ready to draft up a cease and desist letter to stop the constant calls and letters once and for all? Be sure to include the following components:

  • Your name and address
  • The debt collector’s name and address
  • Date
  • Account number associated with the debt (provided by the debt collector)
  • A formal request to cease all contact with you, per the FDCPA
  • Your next course of action if the contact doesn’t stop

When drafting up the letter, use language that is objective but professional. And refrain from discussing whether or not you owe the debt. The last thing you want to do is admit that you owe the entire balance or even a portion of it. Your goal is to make the debt collector stop contacting you, which can be accomplished by this letter is drafted correctly.

The letter should be sent to the debt collector via certified mail with a return receipt so you’ll know when it arrived at the collection agency’s office. Also, be sure to send a copy of the letter and keep the originals for your records.

What Happens When You Send a Cease and Desist Letter?

Once the collection agency is in receipt of your letter, they are only permitted to contact you a final time notifying you of their next course of action. Depending on the type of debt and the amount owed, they could choose to step up their collection efforts by suing you in the court of law. Or they may choose to ignore the debt altogether.

Either way, you should no longer hear from them. And if you do, the debt collector could be in direct violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Sample Cease and Desist Letter

(Your name)

(Your address)

(Debt collector’s name)

(Debt collector’s address)

(Today’s date)

Re: (Account number)

Dear (Debt collector’s name):

Per my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), I hereby request that you cease all communication with me, my relatives, or friends in relation to this or any other alleged debts you claim I owe.

If you fail to acquiesce to this request and continue to initiate contact to collect on the alleged debt, I will proceed with filing a formal complaint to the (insert your state of residence) Attorney General’s office. I will also submit a grievance to the Federal Trade Commission.

In addition, I will seek civil and criminal damages in exchange for your violation of my rights under the FDCPA.

Sincerely,

(Your name-typewritten)

Tips to Deal With Debt Collectors

Has a debt collector has been breathing down your back and using ridiculous tactics to get your attention? You should know that you have rights that they could be in direct violation of. Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from:

  • Contacting you before 8 am or 9 pm unless you explicitly give them permission to do so
  • Calling you at work if you’ve asked them to refrain from doing so
  • Divulging any details related to the debt with anyone you know (outside of your spouse)
  • Using harassing or deceptive language or tactics when contacting you

Violations of the FDCPA should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the state attorney general’s office in your state of residence. You can also file a lawsuit again the debt collector in the state or federal court of law within a year of the violation, notes FTC.gov.

Sample Goodwill Letter

You hit a rough financial patch and fell behind on your credit card or loan payments. Since then, you’ve managed to get your finances back on track and bring your accounts current. But there’s one major problem; your credit score is now in the trenches because of the late payments. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you can start by drafting up a goodwill letter to clean up your credit report and bring your credit score back to life. But what is a goodwill letter, and is it really effective?

Read on to learn the answers to these questions and view a sample template to help you write your own letter.

What Are Goodwill Letters?

A goodwill letter is a formal request written by a consumer to a creditor to have a late payment removed from their credit report.

Are Goodwill Letters Effective?

It depends on the creditor and the strength of your letter. Some creditors are more willing to respond and make remove late payments than others. If you have a valid reason for being late, your chances of having success are much higher.

But some creditors aren’t willing to consider goodwill letters at all. However, you won’t know how your creditor will respond if you don’t draft up a letter and send it up. Doing so won’t hurt considering you’re not disputing the item. You’re technically taking responsibility for the late payment and kindly requesting that it be removed out of generosity.

When to Use a Goodwill Letter

Here are some instances where it may be worthwhile to use a goodwill letter:

  • You only missed one or two payments but you’ve worked hard to get back on track and haven’t been late since.
  • The delinquency resulted from a major life-changing issue, like a major illness or death of a close relative that impacted your finances.
  • You’re trying to qualify or get a lower rate on a mortgage loan, and a late payment or two from past financial missteps are holding you back. (This approach only works if you reiterate that you’ve taken the proper steps to clean up your financial act and turn a new leaf).
  • You were overwhelmed with life and made an honest mistake by forgetting to remit your payment on time, which is very uncharacteristic of you.
  • You didn’t receive the bill in time due to a change of address or mail that wasn’t forwarded.
  • A late payment was reported as a technological glitch that you didn’t catch until it was too late.
  • Automatic bill-pay from your financial institution failed and the payment wasn’t submitted in a timely manner.

When Not to Use a Goodwill Letter

If the late payment(s) are connected to accounts that are currently delinquent, a goodwill letter isn’t the way to go. Instead, you should focus on working with the creditor to make payment arrangements so you can get the account current and stop the late payments from being reported each month. This will also minimize the damage being done to your credit report.

On the other hand, if the account is current but you have a chronic history of being late on your debt obligations, the creditor will more than likely be reluctant to remove the late payments from your credit report out of goodwill.

Remember, goodwill adjustments are reserved for occasional issues, and not repeat episodes of financial mismanagement that lead to late or missed payments. So, if you fit these criteria, take some time out of your busy schedule to create a spending plan that allows you to cover your expenses and take care of your debts in a timely manner each month.

Writing a Goodwill Letter

Ready to get started with drafting up your goodwill letter? Even if you’re angry about the entire ordeal, take a deep breath and force yourself to get into a good mood. You want the tone of your letter to reflect someone who’s made a mistake and would be grateful if the creditor would be forgiving and lend a helping hand. Otherwise, they will quickly toss your letter into the nearest trash bin and move on.

You also want to refrain from pointing the finger at the creditor. The idea is that you’re taking responsibility for your wrongdoing and trying to make things right.

It’s also a good idea to explain why it’s so important to have the negative payment(s) removed. Are you purchasing a new home? Searching for that dream car? Whatever the reason is behind the letter, be sure to communicate it.

When writing your goodwill letter, include the following:

  • Current date
  • Creditor’s name and address
  • Account number
  • Formal request to have the late payment removed
  • The reason for the delinquency and your commitment to not letting it happen again
  • Any other applicable information (i.e. how the late payment is holding you back from making a big-ticket purchase or achieving a particular financial goal)

What Happens When You Send a Goodwill Letter?

Best case scenario: the creditor agrees that you deserve a second chance and removes the late payment(s) from your credit report with no hesitation. Your credit score improves instantly and you’re back on track.

Worst case scenario: the creditor ignores your request. In this case, don’t lose hope. There’s a possibility that your goodwill letter got lost in the mail and they didn’t receive. Or perhaps they reviewed your letter but it wasn’t convincing enough for them to help you out. The good news is you can always return to the drawing board and beef up the letter that it’ll be more convincing the next time around. It may take several rounds of revisions to convince the creditor to remove the late payment, but your efforts won’t be in vain.

Sample Goodwill Letter

(Current Date)

(Creditor’s Name)

(Creditor’s Address)

Re: (Account Number)

Dear (Member of Upper Management),

My name is (your name) and I am a proud (customer or account holder) of (creditor’s name). The reason for this letter is to thank you for providing me with exceptional service over the years and express a concern regarding an entry in my credit profile related to my account.

Approximately (insert the number of years) years ago, I opened my (credit card or loan) account with your company and consistently made payments on-time each month. However, I experienced (insert detailed description of the major life-changing event) and was unable to do so during the month of (insert month) 20xx.

As a result, a past-due payment of 30-days was reported to the credit bureaus. Since that time, I have gotten back on track and made all subsequent payments on time. I’ve also taken extra precautions that include creating a detailed budget, minimizing expenses, and creating an emergency fund to ensure that this does not happen again.

Unfortunately, that one negative mark is hurting my credit score and making it extremely difficult to (insert a detailed description of why you would like the negative mark removed). As a result, I am asking that you forgive this financial misstep made by me and grant me the opportunity to get my credit score back on track by revising the late payment noted on my credit report.

It is my hope that you and your team at (insert creditor’s name) will give me a second chance by making this goodwill adjustment on my behalf.

I am extremely grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to read this letter. Thanks in advance for your assistance concerning this matter.

Warmly,

(insert typewritten name here)