Dealing with Debt Collectors Trying to Collect a Debt That Isn’t Yours

Dealing with Debt Collectors Trying to Collect a Debt That Isn’t Yours

If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you could have debts in your name that aren’t yours (and might not even know they exist until a debt collector tries to collect).

Make Sure It’s Real

Make sure that it’s not a scam and that you are dealing with a real debt collector.

Don’t Agree to Pay

You shouldn’t agree to pay a debt that isn’t yours. If you do, you're acknowledging the debt and might get a negative entry on your credit report for the late payment (even if you pay it in full).

Send a Letter to the Collection Agency

Send a letter to the collection agency (certified mail, return receipt requested) and explain that the information is incorrect and/or that your identity was stolen. Also request that the agency verify the debt by providing you with copies of any records associated with it (transaction receipts, statements, loan documents). You might still need to follow up by disputing the debt with the debt collector after you examine the records.

Dispute the Debt

You have the right to dispute the debt at any time. If you do, anytime debt collectors report the debt to a credit reporting agency, they must also report that the debt has been disputed. You should submit your dispute in writing and send it to the collection agency (certified mail, return receipt requested). You can also request that the debt collector give you the name and address of the original creditor (could be different from the current one). 

If you’re having trouble with the collection agency, you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Get Identity Theft Assistance

If you haven’t already, you should put together an identity theft plan as there might be other debts of which you’re not aware or that haven’t yet gone to collections.