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How to Fight Debt You Don't Owe

Debt is hard to deal with. Dealing with debt you don't actually owe is even tougher. The Better Business Bureau recommends fighting back when debt collectors are wrong about what you owe them.

June Walbert, a Certified Financial Planner practitioner with USAA, passes along these tips:

Request written proof of the debt. By law, a collection agency must provide you a validation notice within five days of contact. Verify the debt by sending back a written request within 30 days of the validation. This can help distinguish identity thieves from real debt collectors.

Once you confirm you don't owe a debt, correct items related to the debt on your credit report. Write a detailed letter to the company that provided the info to the reporting bureau and provide proof to back your case. The Federal Trade Commission tells how to report errors at ftc.gov.
 
Check your credit report yearly with the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion at annualcreditreport.com. Victims of fraud or identity theft may be eligible for free reports. 
 
Finally, tell them to stop. Confirm you do not owe the debt, then send a letter by certified mail to the collector advising them to cease contact. By law, they must stop. Report uncooperative collectors to the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

-- Courtesy of USAA

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