If you dispute a debt, the amount of a payment, or incorrect information in your credit report, you may need to do so by writing a letter. A letter documents the fact that you disagree with the information in the creditor's file or on your credit report. Documenting the correct information is the first step to getting the incorrect information removed from your file, or to taking legal action to clear the matter up, if necessary. The best documentation is evidence in the form of a certified letter to the company or credit agency explaining what and why you dispute the information.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Word processing programme or typewriter (optional)
- Printer (optional)
- Stamp or fee for certified letter
Type or print the date at the top of the letter on the left-hand side. Skip a line and then add your name and your full address underneath the date. Begin each line on the left-hand side of the page, lining it up with the line above it, so that this paragraph looks just like it would look on an envelope being mailed to you. Skip a line and then line up the name and address of the company to which you are sending the letter, on the left side of the page. Insert the information just as you would if you were addressing an envelope to the company.
Skip another line. Place referencing information you have, if any, about the specific account in dispute, (for example, you might list an account number here, or if you are responding to a letter, list any information such as a claim number or reference number that was contained in the letter). Skip another line. Begin the next line with the salutation: "Dear Sir or Madam," or if you know the name of the person handling the account you can write "Dear" with their name (preceded by Mr. or Ms.) inserted in place of "Sir or Madam."
Begin the first paragraph of the letter by skipping another line. Clearly set forth why you are writing, for example: "I am writing to dispute the debt that your letter of June 19, 2010 states I owe." Place all other information that will identify exactly what you are disputing in this paragraph. Begin each new paragraph of the letter by skipping a line. Line up all paragraphs underneath the one above on the left hand side of the page.
Explain why you are disputing the debt in a new paragraph. Be concise and direct, for example: This debt is not mine, since the bill was for medical care for Scott Jones. I do not know Scott Jones and I am uncertain why I have received this bill." Explain what you are asking them to do, for example: "I would like you to remove this from my credit report." or "I am requesting you remove this erroneous information from my file and credit my account."
Insert a new paragraph, if applicable, that identifies any documents you are enclosing, why you are enclosing the information and how it supports your position: "I am enclosing a copy of the billing. I have highlighted the portion showing that the amount listed as a debt to my account was for Scott Jones' medical care."
Skip a line and end the letter with "Sincerely," followed by four blank lines. Type or clearly print your full name on the fifth line below the word "Sincerely". Skip another line and then, if applicable, insert the word "Enclosures" and list anything you intend to enclose. Sign your name in ink in the space between "Sincerely" and your printed name.
Tips and warnings
- It is a good idea to send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. It only costs a little more but means you will receive a receipt showing when the letter was received (and that it was, in fact, received). It is a good idea to store the return receipt with a copy of the letter.
- If you spoke to someone over the telephone or if you sent other letters about this same issue, you should include the name of the person you spoke to and the result of the conversation (for example, "I spoke to Ms. Smith, who identified herself as the manager of billing, on June 21, 2010. She requested I write a letter explaining I am unfamiliar with Mr. Jones.")
- If possible, you should always attempt to resolve the issue by telephone. If you are able to do so, you should write a letter explaining your understanding that the situation was resolved, how it was resolved and the date and name of the person you spoke with to resolve it.
- Many companies will provide you with their facsimile number and you can send the letter by fax. Set the fax machine to show that the letter was sent, as well as the date and time it was sent. If you have any doubts, mail a copy of the letter even after you send one by fax.
- Keep a copy of any supporting documentation you send with your dispute letter.
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