How to challenge debt claims

Updated February 21, 2017

Have you been getting collection agency calls or letters for debt that you do not believe is your debt? If so, you can challenge those debt claims instead of paying. Some debt collectors may attempt to try to scare you into paying for debt that is not yours by telling you that it will go on your credit report. If you challenge their debt claims, they cannot legally report the debt to the credit bureaus until they can prove that the debt is actually yours.

Write a debt validation letter to challenge the debt claim. (See Resources) Be sure to not take any responsibility for the debt. Instead, ask the company to verify the debt is yours and to provide proof that they are authorised to collect the debt on behalf of the original creditor.

Mail the debt validation letter to the return address on your debt collection letter. Send the letter by certified mail from the post office so you will have a receipt that they have received your letter.

Wait for a response from the company about your debt. You may be told that they cannot prove it and are closing their collection file. Or you may be provided some documents to prove that the debt is yours.

Check the debt statute of limitations for your state. Look at the original date of the debt to see if it is past the statute of limitations. If it is, then you cannot legally be sued for the debt.

Retain an attorney if you continue to get debt claims for debt that is not yours. Collection agencies can sue you for the debt that you owe, or that they think you owe, but cannot collect if they can't prove the debt is yours.

Check your credit report with each credit bureau to see if the debt is listed on it. The credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. If you need to also dispute the debt on your credit report, just follow the dispute process as outlined on the back of the credit report or on the sidebar if you are viewing it online.


Report harassment by a debt collector to your state Attorney General's office.

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About the Author

Jamie Lisse has been writing professionally since 1997. She has published works with a number of online and print publishers. Her areas of expertise include finance and accounting, travel, entertainment, digital media and technology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.