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Do credit card debt collectors have to prove you owe them?

Let's say that over many months, you rack up quite a bit in credit card debt. After changing some of your spending habits and addressing the issue by paying off the debt, you finally make your last payment to clear your balance. A month or so passes, and you're feeling good about the whole ordeal.

But then one day, a debt collector calls you saying that you owe money. You inform them that you already paid off the debt and that their information must be wrong, but you can't prove that you paid it off either because (for whatever reason) you don't have record of payment. The caller assures you they are not wrong and again asks for you to pay off the debt.

So here's the question: what are your rights in this situation? Can you ask for proof of this debt? Does the collector have to provide this information?

The answers to these questions depend on the situation. For example, if you believe the debt that the collectors are asking for is incorrect or non-existent, then you can send them a written request within 30 days of receiving the collector's call that asks for proof of the debt. If you fail to do this, or if it falls outside the 30-day window, the collector does not have to honor your request for proof.

Another right that you have under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is to request (again, in written fashion) that the collector stop calling you. Once you do this, the collector can either stop pursuing your apparent debt, or they can file suit against you. Whichever option they choose, once they choose it, the only way they can contact you again is to inform you of their choice.

Source: Fox Business, "Can I Request Proof of Credit Card Debt?," Jeanine Skowronski, Bankrate.com, Aug. 20, 2014

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